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Optimize universal end-user tasks


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Yes, I'm grumpy. Start rant:

Lacking documentation (and now, contextual help) the ACP is difficult enough, but now I'm seeing fundamental usability problems in the interface design of universal end-user tasks, such as starting topics and posting responses.

See Big fat Manage Topic Poll button -- wha? and Streamline Posting New Topic wasteland and Move Twitter icon from here to there above text box

How could Invision, which claims to be influenced by Apple, make such awful interface design bloopers in sequences that will be used by every active member in every single forum in every package of IPB sold? Those end-user interfaces should be tight tight tight.

A fundamental usability principle is to optimize an interface for the greatest number of users. It looks to me that on the end-user side, vBulletin has done a much better job of this. Maybe a better ACP in IPB is the tradeoff, which leaves me in a quandary because a relatively painless end-user experience is very important to me. Maybe I should look at Xenforo.

I would think IPB, to be competitive, would clean up universal end-user tasks so that their interfaces will work right out of the box.

These very basic interfacess are no doubt ancient history to the developers and they would much rather work on something more exciting. Perhaps they haven't taken a good look at them in years.

Some developers think they can put something half-baked out there and let the customer "customize" it so that it will be properly designed. I hope this is not Invision's philosophy. From my perspective, less than an hour of developer time would fix this stuff while it would take several hours for each customer to make the same fixes, for many more cumulative hours of effort.

Having made this point, I hope Invision will demonstrate that it respects its customers' time and allocate some resources to polishing universal end-users task sequences.

PS How do you determine which are essential universal tasks? By the usability design technique of creating scenarios for a hypothetical composite universal end-user. For example:

1) View forum list
2) View topic list
3) Read topic
4) Reply to topic
5) Start topic
6) Register

Except for Register, these are tasks that all active users on every forum ever invented would do, and items 1, 2, and 3 apply to lurkers as well. (Register is on this list because for many forums it is essential.) These are absolutely the bare bones of forum software, and the end-user interfaces should be absolutely elegant for each.

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