Jump to content

Questions about IP.Board 3.2.0: Search/VNC Interface Improvements


Recommended Posts

.... It is showing my both read and unread content that was posted since my last visit. Those topics that are unread have a visual indicator showing me that they are unread.

Charles, the MY has confused me ... are you saying all members new content or only all new replies to you content since you last visit?
That's not the same thing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While there's a balance, I find it difficult to accept this on the face of it. Google recently added a filter bar to the search results page. Possibly the most important screen on the internet, traditionally a bastion of usability in which even variations of the color blue are A/B tested for months. Yet they feel a filter bar improves usability over 'advanced' options and screens.

Not to mention eBay, Amazon and every other eCommerce store in existence.

I'm not claiming ours is perfect. That's why I asked if you dislike filter tools as a rule, or if there's an issue with ours specifically. You've just suggested using a horizontal bar though. How can we improve the vertical one that is far more common online, in your opinion?

Whether you use a horizontal filter bar or a vertical filter bar depends on the kind of content you're filtering. Design of a tool is specific to the type of site and what you intend for it to do.

What Google does is very different from what IPB does. The way Google lists content is entirely different. What Google considers most important is at the top of the list, to minimize scrolling. This justifies, somewhat, crowding its topic list.

Google's text and display are more condensed than IPB's. There are no columns in Google's rows.

Google's livelihood does not depend on a user being able to browse the topic list, select a topic to read, post in it, and return to the topic list. Business-wise, Google wants to present ads. The search results are there as a win-win for Google and the user. Remember the huge uproar when they introduced the ads in the right-hand column?

Google has carefully designed its tools to be good for Google. They do user-test them to make sure Google's users get what they want from Google, and Google gets what it wants from its users.

Ebay has come a long way in usability. They are changing things all the time. The loading time and scrolling used to be excruciating. Note they also offer tab filters at the top of the list. They haven't figured out how to condense the left-hand filters because their metadata is a mess. They don't have any choice but to allow it to be as long as it wants. (I have personal knowledge of the usability issues and processes at Ebay.)

I think Amazon has its head up its armpit usability-wise, and I would never copy anything Amazon does (except maybe the checkout process). Amazon also has a massive metadata problem: finding anything is a chore because it can be in any number of categories.

Ebay and Amazon have filters because they make finding things a little bit easier. They have lengthy vertical filters because their metadata is so sloppy the number of categories cannot be anticipated. This is not an optimal usability situation or an optimal sales situation, but they're coping with it the best they can.

If you're looking for models, how about craiglist? Here's a wildly successful but minimal site that uses horizontal tab filters. The few other controls are in the search mechanism. (Of course, craigslist doesn't have any more in common with a topic list on a forum site than Google does.)

There is no one-size-fits-all pattern for arranging filters. It depends on what you need to get done to optimize the main focus of the user activity. What I find interesting about usability design is that you need to choose the right tool for the job, and if necessary invent your own.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Crabpaws, it honestly sounds like no matter what they give you as a rationale for their decisions, you will simply argue that it's wrong because it does not comply with your view. They tried tabs - that's what 3.1 uses now. No one likes it, except maybe yourself. You claimed that there was a cost to using filters that somehow would be of earth shattering significance. Rikki gives examples of no less than 3 major sites that do it this way, and you reply by eliminating 2 of them, and claiming the third isn't usable and that you shouldn't copy them (actually, I would like to copy them thanks - they rake in millions upon millions a year, I only wish I could do that), and countering by giving them as a usability example a site so difficult to use, I had trouble working out where exactly you go to create a new post - as well as being so painfully ugly I wanted to tear my eyes out. Thanks, but I would most emphatically NOT ever want IPS to copy Craigslist.

You claim that Google's option is inappropriate because of the type of content. I say this is complete codswallop. Google does search. View New Content is also search. The pages you are saying are nothing alike are, for all intents and purposes, the same page with the same purpose. Search. What you're saying is that Google doesn't know how to lay out a search results page. In the words of a local brewing company, Yeah Right. Filters in the side bar make sense. They take up less room than the horizontal bar, they can be reached in one click, and thanks to Google, they're ubiquitous and intuitive.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Management

I have to say that if you're using Craigslist as an example of usability then we are from different planets :) ... Just because something is "simple" doesn't make it "user friendly" and one can simply browse Craigslist to see the varying and confused postings from people stumbling to make it work. Unless you're a spammer or out to offer someone... special services... I don't think anyone can look at Craiglist and say "oh yes this is very clear, organized, and easy to use!" It's Craiglist's ability to post anything, even ridiculous things, for free that makes it popular: not its amazing and inspired interface ;)

If that's what you point at for usability then I am sorry to say that I do not think your vision for usability will ever match with ours.

(going to lock this topic as there's another topic about VNC with some good ideas being floated around for improvement)

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...