Archive for the ‘Usability’ Category

Xobni feedback: Missing tooltips

January 16, 2008

In various areas in the sidebar, when there is not enough space for a string, ellipsis is used, but when I hover over it with my mouse, I expect to see a tooltip showing me the entire string, so I don’t have to make room for it to see what the string is. This is common UI pattern, which is missing in Xobni.

Sample for such problems can be see in panes titles (such as “People connected to…”, “Conversation with…”), messages subjects and some more.

Xobni makes excessive use of “what’s this” tooltips at the upper part of the sidebar, explaining each of the items, and also when the links for a person (“schedule time with…”, “e-mail…”) are truncated in a narrow sidebar, the tooltip shows their full text, but that’s less important. The count in the end of a pane title, or a message’s full subject is much more important, and for this, Xobni fail to show tooltips.

Dotted Lines in Tree

February 16, 2007

Our product is probably going towards using our company’s common UI. This will probably mean re-writing its GUI in a more Web 2.0 manner, which is nice.

The developer of the company’s common UI library is visiting us this week, so I had a first-time look into the library and trying to use it. BTW, the library is based on prototype and scriptaculous.

I noticed that in their sample page they use a tree that doesn’t display dotted lines that connect the dots. I asked the library developer if I can use our current tree implementation that does use dotted lines, and he said he doesn’t think that’s matter, but forwarded me to the usability guru of the company.

She said that from their experience, the dotted lines adds nothing to the tree usability and should be removed. I planned to say “do you know better than Microsoft” as I remembered Windows Explorer did display dotted lines, but when I took a look, I was amazed to find out that Windows Explorer in Windows XP no longer shows dotted lines in the folder tree (I’m pretty sure those lines were there in a previous version of Windows), and Outlook also displays a tree of folders without dotted lines. I guess this is the new convention of showing trees. There are some Microsoft exceptions for this rule, though. For example, the project explorer in Visual Studio has these dotted lines (from Visual Studio 6 until the recent Visual Studio 2005) as well as the advanced printer settings dialog.

Oddly enough, I can’t find any discussion about it on the web.