Suggestions to improve the User eXperience of IXDA
20 Jun 2010 - 8:04am
2 years ago
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
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.