Suggestions to improve the User eXperience of IXDA

20 Jun 2010 - 8:04am
4 years ago
2 replies
598 reads
netwiz
2010

A week ago I posted some suggestions to the discussion list, to which there were a couple of 'hear-hears' (thanks), but little other response. So I'm having another go in a new thread, in the hope that there will be some more debate on whether these are good ideas, and some formal response.

The reason I'm doing this is because previously I found the discussions interesting and stimulating, and couldn't find the same level of debate anywhere else. I'm afraid that now I find that the quality has been significantly reduced, largely I feel due to the 'spam' of out of office messages, and the flood of job postings. As I said previously, I know that I'm not alone in having been significantly deterred from posting questions and helpful replies to this forum because of these issues.

I also said that I think it would be reasonable for occasional updates from 'the management', given the desire for this to be a 'community'. Let me say that I appreciate the efforts of those who give their time to providing these facilties, and that I write not in the spirit of complaint, but in a sense of collaboration to improve things. Note: I happened to stumble across the 'board blog' on the website. Even if the posters don't want to duplicate the message in the discussion forum, couldn't they at least post a link to it? And, for goodness sake, put a date on the post. I've no idea if the most recent one was posted yesterday or a year ago.

I use the mailing list almost exclusively, but it seems that there are some who use the website, and so any improvements need to work for both.

Broadly, there are three types of posts 1) IXD discussions, which is what the discussion list/forum is for 2) Job posts 3) Issues with the site, registration etc

If I am the type of person who only uses email, then I need something in the email to point me to the right place to make my particular post. Therefore, in the common footer of the email, there should be a link to Post job notices here.....http://www.ixda.org/jobs Post admin [or similar words] problems here....http://www.getsatisfaction.com/ixda In passing though, I'm not clear about the purpose of get satisfaction. It seems to be convenient for management, but will only reach other community members who take the trouble to go there.

Similarly, on the website, there should be links to "Get Satisfaction", and "job postings" right next to the "start a new thread" button. The site design at present assumes people will direct themselves to the right place from which to post a message. Good design practice would group the options together, making it clear what the different choices are. Doing these things might stand a chance of tidying up the discussions.

With regret, I have to say that I find the web interface for discussion as dysfunctional a method as I've seen. The 'standard' of all those bulletin boards out there, and threaded email readers have for a long time now provided far better methods for engaging in these sort of debates. Both of these methods allow for much easier scanning of the main topics, and an understanding of who is replying to whom.

I still don't understand why the email discussion messages sent to the group list are still shown as 'to me', when actually they aren't. It means I can't easily distinguish between general replies to the list, and replies that are actually privately to me. I can't recall any other list (of many) that I've subscribed to that has done this.

On the website, there is a resources section. As I look at that page now, my first reaction is one of confusion. There are links at the top to things that I have no clue as to what they are, or why I should be interested in them. The first one seems to be related to urban design, which only has peripheral relevance to the core discussions that go on here. My suggestion here would be that there's a short blurb about each resource, that would facilitate browsing. The alternative at present is to click on each one just to find out if you're interested or not. I've no idea whether these resources get used much, but there's no discussion here about them, which I would expect if they were.

There are five pages of resources, but the 'popular' ones and the search box appears on each page, and I can't control how many resources show on each page, which I'd like to do, as I don't want to have to click through n number of pages as the collection grows. I clicked on "personas" in the tag cloud on the resources page, and found it took me to results from the discussion list - I thought it was going to help me filter the resources, especially as it says 'tag cloud of hot resources'. And again, why not post a link to the discussion forum when there's a new resource added? Use the discussion forum/email list to signpost new events to the community.

To register my vote, whilst email may not be a perfect solution to discussions, if it stopped, and switched to RSS or site only, I would stop using it.

So, good ideas or not? I'm not a developer - that's not my job, so some of the suggestions may be harder than others, but some are surely easy. What do you think?

PS Ironically when I first sent this earlier today, I received a reject message that I couldn't initiate new discussions, even though I had been replying to posts. There's been an issue in the UK that @gmail hasn't officially been permitted, and I've had to use googlemail. This has caused issues with the site (but not others). Fortunately I can now use @gmail. Changing this did cause me to go to the membership area of ixda to check my details. The 'view' option on the site does not display my current registered email address - I had to click 'edit' to find it, but wasn't sure that I'd be able to 'edit' things I couldn't 'view'. I also don't understand what the sections for 'favorites' 'groups' and 'signups' are for. There's no explanation - which surely a good user interaction would require? Therefore, my suggestion - where there is a capability on the site, explain what it's about, and enable a view of all relevant personal info.

-- Nick Gassman UX, design and insight, ba.com

Comments

20 Jun 2010 - 9:55am
Matt Nish-Lapidus
2007

Thanks for checking in on these issues.  I can address some of your comments directly, others will have to be addressed in action (more frequent list updates, etc).

Let me start with the easiest question to answer: posting form your googlemail.com address.  The site/list only allows posts from registered addresses, your registered address is your gmail.com address.  This is a necessity to make sure that only registered users are posting, and that we can link the email posts to their accounts properly.  However, your issue brings up the idea that we might want to let people have multiple email addresses linked to their account.  I'm going to add this to our issue/feature tracker at tracker.ixda.org.

Some of your suggestions for small changes are good and I'll also record those and start work on getting them implemented (the cross linking form discussions to jobs and feedback is a great idea, as well as updates to the email footer some of which i've been trying to implement already).

I'm finding that the board blog does not have enough visibility to be useful, so I will make sure all updates get posted to the list.

We know there are lots of issues still, and a lot of them are captured at tracker.ixda.org.  The biggest problem is finding enough developers who can work on it with us, either volunteer or trying to find some money for a little paid help now and then. 

If you'd be interested in getting involved in the non-development side of site maintenance and improvements please let me know.  We're happy to have your input.

I'm going to post another messages with the current updates to issues that will address some of your other points.

Matt & the IxDA

21 Jun 2010 - 10:05am
netwiz
2010

Thanks for your positive response.   I find myself wondering if the setup - with the best of intentions - is overstretched? A new website and mailing list has been set up with a number of acknowledged issues, and there aren't the resources to fix things easily. My concern would be that there will in fact be an ever-lengthening list of feature requests and an ongoing sense of disatisfaction from users.

  Would it not be possible to establish a more maintainable presence using cheap or freely available tools? There might be some compromise in overall capability, but might give a better experience overall. Even using something like (free) Yahoo Groups, or pre-templated and hosted websites?

  just a thought   Nick

On Sun, Jun 20, 2010 at 3:56 PM, emenel <mattnl@gmail.com> wrote:

Thanks for checking in on these issues.  I can address some of your comments directly, others will have to be addressed in action (more frequent list updates, etc).

Let me start with the easiest question to answer: posting form your googlemail.com address.  The site/list only allows posts from registered addresses, your registered address is your gmail.com address.  This is a necessity to make sure that only registered users are posting, and that we can link the email posts to their accounts properly.  However, your issue brings up the idea that we might want to let people have multiple email addresses linked to their account.  I'm going to add this to our issue/feature tracker at tracker.ixda.org.

Some of your suggestions for small changes are good and I'll also record those and start work on getting them implemented (the cross linking form discussions to jobs and feedback is a great idea, as well as updates to the email footer some of which i've been trying to implement already).

I'm finding that the board blog does not have enough visibility to be useful, so I will make sure all updates get posted to the list.

We know there are lots of issues still, and a lot of them are captured at tracker.ixda.org.  The biggest problem is finding enough developers who can work on it with us, either volunteer or trying to find some money for a little paid help now and then. 

If you'd be interested in getting involved in the non-development side of site maintenance and improvements please let me know.  We're happy to have your input.

I'm going to post another messages with the current updates to issues that will address some of your other points.

Matt & the IxDA

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