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jpalik

Posts: 111
Registered: 19-Feb-2012
UI Clarity Recommendations
Posted: 05-Aug-2017 21:09
 
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Even though I have been using jAlbum for a long time, as a result of testing the new Tiger skin I decided to do some in-depth jAlbum testing to better understand jAlbum’s structure and take full advantage of jAlbum. I really like jAlbum and I want new users to have a good experience.

As an old UI designer, inconsistencies jump out. jAlbum is so good overall I decided that I will post what I find during my testing and make recommendations when I see that a UI implementation can be changed easily and not impact current users or past installations. I am always most interested in how the UI is perceived by new users while taking into consideration existing projects.

1. Most new users will use the default skin for their first album, this is normal. However, after the first album is created, another skin is likely to be tried.

My intuition to try a new skin was to first select a skin and then create a new album. When I did this, the default skin replaced the skin I selected. I thought this was a bug. I had several discussions in the forum about this and found that this is the code, not a bug.

Recommendation: If a person selects a skin first, override the default.

This will not negatively impact any existing users or replace the default but it will prevent confusion for new users.

2. When a new album project is created an image directory with the user defined New Album Project name is appended to jAlbums default:

C:\Users\UserName\Documents\MyAlbums\*New Album Name*.

An Output directory is simultaneously created named “album”.

The documentation states that this output directory can be placed anywhere but the default (unless overridden) place is in the Image directory under the New Album Name.

When I saw the Output directory contained only “Album” I thought this was also a bug.
Testing confirmed that it was placed according to the documentation but the visual feedback contradicts this. The visual feedback to any experienced computer use says that “Album” was placed off the root even though the C:\ was missing.

Recommendation: When a new album project is created, create mirror image of the image directory with album appended at the end. This will give the visual feedback of the actual implementation. The new directories will show:

Image directory: C:\Users\UserName\Documents\MyAlbums\New Album Name
Output directory: C:\Users\UserName\Documents\MyAlbums\New Album Name\album

This will not negatively impact any existing users but it will provide a more positive experience for new users.

Note: People read pictures before they read the documentation. At HP we did a number of usability tests that confirmed this. If the picture is self-evident, users ignore the documentation. This is the foundation of good UI design. It is why so many of today’s kids never bother with reading documentation. The important point here is that the visual feedback should not contradict the actual implementation or the documentation. Visual feedback always trumps documentation.

3. When albums are created they all get the name of jalbum-settings.jpa. This means that a lazy user can have many albums with the same name. This contradicts basic UI and system design. All experienced users understand that you cannot have folders under the same hierarchy and jpgs in folders with the same name.

Recommendation: Inherit the new album name as the .jpa name when a new album is created instead of jalbum-settings.jpa. This would eliminate the need to do a "save as" to keep .jpa albums unique. It could be desireable to keep the word settings following the new album name for clarity purposes. This would show as: New Album-settings.jpa

If I haden't done "save as" for all my albums I would have more than 50 jalbum-settings.jpa files on my system. I always wondered why I had to go to the extra work.

None of the above recommendations will impact current users but will make the new user experience better. Items two and three have a number of threads in the forum confirming that many times new users are confused by their first experience. Hopefully my explanations above and recommendations will help.

I will be traveling for a couple of days. I look forward to your questions and comments after I return. Another reason I like jAlbum so much is the responsiveness of the forum.

Jim

Edited by: jpalik on 05-Aug-2017 21:10

Edited by: jpalik on 05-Aug-2017 21:13
jGromit

Posts: 33,207
Registered: 31-Jan-2006
Re: UI Clarity Recommendations
Posted: 05-Aug-2017 21:29   in response to: jpalik in response to: jpalik
 
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And yet you still don't know what the correct file extension for project files is. A great example of attention to detail.
jGromit

Posts: 33,207
Registered: 31-Jan-2006
Re: UI Clarity Recommendations
Posted: 05-Aug-2017 21:37   in response to: jpalik in response to: jpalik
 
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Attachment ss003162.png (3,8 KB)
jpalik wrote:
Recommendation: If a person selects a skin first, override the default.

The default skin appears only if the user selects File, New Album Project. But if you just select a skin, you're still looking at this rather large message in the middle of the application window - see screenshot. And if you do that, the skin you've just chosen is, in fact, the skin that the new project will use.

In short, you really have to go out of your way to have your skin selection overridden.

And now let's consider what happens if the user has saved another skin as his default, like Gromit, complete with customized settings. He's staring at an empty non-project. He chooses ExhibitPlus, just to see something on its settings panel.

But now he chooses File, New Album Project, intending to start a new project with his default skin and settings. But instead, under your proposal, he's still getting ExhibitPlus. How does he get back to his desired default settings? You're going to make him go the extra step of choosing File, Import, Default settings?

That doesn't seem very intuitive, to me.
jGromit

Posts: 33,207
Registered: 31-Jan-2006
Re: UI Clarity Recommendations
Posted: 05-Aug-2017 22:09   in response to: jpalik in response to: jpalik
 
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jpalik wrote:
Recommendation: Inherit the new album name as the .jpa [sic] name when a new album is created instead of jalbum-settings.jpa.[sic]
...
If I haden't done "save as" for all my albums I would have more than 50 jalbum-settings.jpa [sic] files on my system.

I don't necessarily disagree with the recommendation, but how many files on your system are called index.html? Are you confused by this?

And in your album project directories, how many files are called comments.properties? And albumfiles.txt? Is this confusing?
davidekholm

Posts: 21,496
Registered: 18-Oct-2002
Re: UI Clarity Recommendations
Posted: 05-Aug-2017 22:49   in response to: jpalik in response to: jpalik
 
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I just want to comment for now that, although I have objections to the idea of keeping the last used skin when starting a new project, I will consider your points. Most of all, I want to say that I appreciate feedback on how to make jAlbum a better software!

In my world, any file path that doesn't begin with a slash or C:\ (D:\ etc) is a relative one. I've never heard of a user that has the misconception that "album" refers to a folder under the root, but it is probably not that hard to present a translated path to users so once they've entered "album" and the editing field loses focus, it displays the full path from the root
jpalik

Posts: 111
Registered: 19-Feb-2012
Re: UI Clarity Recommendations
Posted: 08-Aug-2017 09:46   in response to: jGromit in response to: jGromit
 
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Funny, Jeff. I have made this typo so many time in my life. I had a company for many years called J Palik and Associates. so my default typo for anything that was jap bcame jpa. Good catch. I do like your other comments :-)

Please change the recommendation to read.

Recommendation: Inherit the new album name as the .jap name when a new album is created instead of jalbum-settings.jap. This would eliminate the need to do a "save as" to keep .jap albums unique. It could be desireable to keep the word settings following the new album name for clarity purposes. This would show as: New Album-settings.jap

I can't believe the number of times I repeated typo. just see the edited by....

Edited by: jpalik on 08-Aug-2017 09:47

Edited by: jpalik on 08-Aug-2017 09:48

Edited by: jpalik on 08-Aug-2017 09:49

Edited by: jpalik on 08-Aug-2017 09:51
jpalik

Posts: 111
Registered: 19-Feb-2012
Re: UI Clarity Recommendations
Posted: 11-Aug-2017 15:24   in response to: jGromit in response to: jGromit
 
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Dear Jeff

I have thought about your comments for several days and I want to be sure to reply in a positive sense. I am just providing my observations based on experience. As I said at the top of my original post, my comments are intended for new users to have a positive first impression and experience.

I am reflecting what jumped out at me. None of these are bugs just recommendations that I believe will improve the “New user” first impression and experience. I will however answer your comments in the spirit of discussion. Hopefully my answers below each comment clarifies the recommendation.

jpalik wrote:
Recommendation: If a person selects a skin first, override the default.

The default skin appears only if the user selects File, New Album Project. But if you just select a skin, you're still looking at this rather large message in the middle of the application window - see screenshot. And if you do that, the skin you've just chosen is, in fact, the skin that the new project will use.

In short, you really have to go out of your way to have your skin selection overridden.

Nothing in that message says don’t select new album project. My comment was that if a new user selects a skin first, then selects New Album Project the selected skin is replaced with the default skin with no warning. My recommendation stays the same. If the user overrides the default by selecting a different skin, that is the user’s choice. It has nothing to do with the screen message.

And now let's consider what happens if the user has saved another skin as his default, like Gromit, complete with customized settings. He's staring at an empty non-project. He chooses ExhibitPlus, just to see something on its settings panel.

But now he chooses File, New Album Project, intending to start a new project with his default skin and settings. But instead, under your proposal, he's still getting ExhibitPlus. How does he get back to his desired default settings? You're going to make him go the extra step of choosing File, Import, Default settings?

I’m sorry Jeff but the two above arguments are not valid. If the person’s intent was to open his default skin with all its predetermined settings, he would not have selected a different skin. If he sees his mistake after opening the wrong skin, he just closes the project and the default skin is reset. Where is the problem. This is intuitive.

Recommendation: If a person selects a skin first, override the default.], it’s the users choice.

Alternatives would be:

1. Add a warning message if the skin was changed to “Replace default skin” with a yes/no radio buttons or yes checkbox before the project is implemented.
2. Change the wording in New Album Project to New Default Album Project.
3. In the New Album Project dialog box, add a text box above the Album Name text box showing the skin to be used (based on the user selection) with a drop-down list box of available skins for the user to correct an error. This text box would be named Album Skin. This would then avoid any confusion.

Option 3 is the clearest. I have attached an illustration

Edited by: jpalik on 11-Aug-2017 15:25
jGromit

Posts: 33,207
Registered: 31-Jan-2006
Re: UI Clarity Recommendations
Posted: 11-Aug-2017 15:38   in response to: jpalik in response to: jpalik
 
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This all seems like a lot of mucking about to fix a "problem" that I don't recall any other user ever complaining about.

A user chooses New Album Project, and he gets the default skin (whether his chosen default, or the jAlbum default). He says, "Oh, I want to use Classic Aligned 2, instead," so he chooses that skin. Is this really a source of bewilderment? Does this send a new user off to reading manuals and help pages, or posting in the forums?
jpalik

Posts: 111
Registered: 19-Feb-2012
Re: UI Clarity Recommendations
Posted: 11-Aug-2017 15:58   in response to: jGromit in response to: jGromit
 
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Again, I disagree with you. There are multiple kinds and purposes for file naming conventions. The three most common are:

1. File names that must be kept unique such as images directories, or unique containers that may be located outside an applications framework such as .jap file. In fact one of the jAlbum user threads comments on a keeping all the .jpa files in one folder for easy access.
2. Industry defined standards such as index.html. This file could not be unique or you would break web page.
3. Files that belong to applications that you do not move outside the applications framework.

Unless I am missing something hear, there is no downside to creating the default .jpa name the same as the album name, just upside. My recommendation stays the same.

Recommendation: Inherit the new album name as the .jpa sic name when a new album is created instead of jalbum-settings.jpa.sic
jGromit

Posts: 33,207
Registered: 31-Jan-2006
Re: UI Clarity Recommendations
Posted: 11-Aug-2017 15:59   in response to: jGromit in response to: jGromit
 
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A final thought...

Thinking about virtually every other application I use, when I choose File, New, I get a new document, spreadsheet, project, whatever, and it's using the program default settings, or my chosen default settings for that application. I can't think of a single one that creates a new file that reflects my most recently-used settings. That would be very strange, indeed.
jpalik

Posts: 111
Registered: 19-Feb-2012
Re: UI Clarity Recommendations
Posted: 11-Aug-2017 17:08   in response to: davidekholm in response to: davidekholm
 
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Dear David,

Thank you for acknowledging that I am only trying to make jAlbum a better tool. You have done an excellent job. I am not criticizing your work.

As I said in my post, when I see something that causes me to question "why" or does not adhere to accepted design, and I like the software, I point it out to the developer.

I would like to correct one thing. I was not recommending that your keep the last skin used when starting a new project. What I was pointing out is that if a user happens to choose the skin before creating a new project their decision should override the default. As I pointed out to jGromit, it is the users decision. If the user found that a mistake was made, closing the project returns the default.

In answer to his objection, I created an alternative recommendation that would clearly solve the problem. Show the skin selected as part of the New Album Project dialog box. Please see the illustration I created.

The Output directory path recommendation also has no downside. It would just make it clearer where album will be located. Hopefully you noticed that I acknowledged the lack of the C:\ etc. was not necessary for knowledgeable people. Unfortunately not all people are knowledgeable.

UI design is a totally different discipline than coding. So if I make recommendations or observations that contradict coding possibilities or conventions, I expect to be called out. My coding skill is proficient "cut and paste". However, my jAlbum experience is tempting me to try to learn how to create a skin. If I do take on this challenge there will probably be a lot of "help me" posts :-).

I stand by my three recommendations. They will just make jAlbum more friendly.

1. If a person selects a skin first, override the default skin if New Album Project is selected.

2. When a new album project is created, create a mirror image of the image directory with album appended at the end. This will give the visual feedback of the actual implementation. The new directories will show:

Image directory: C:\Users\UserName\Documents\MyAlbums\New Album Name
Output directory: C:\Users\UserName\Documents\MyAlbums\New Album Name\album

3. Inherit the new album name as the .jap name when a new album is created instead of jalbum-settings.jap.

Thank your jAlbum. it is a great tool.

Jim

Edited by: jpalik on 11-Aug-2017 17:09
jpalik

Posts: 111
Registered: 19-Feb-2012
Re: UI Clarity Recommendations
Posted: 11-Aug-2017 17:27   in response to: jGromit in response to: jGromit
 
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You still do not understand. What I was saying is that when the user decides to override the default, it is a user decision.

I agree with the examples you used. Word is another. It has a template called Normal.dot that is the default. However, of you want to override normal you first select the template you want when you create a new document.

Jim
jimberry

Posts: 7,466
Registered: 30-Aug-2004
Re: UI Clarity Recommendations
Posted: 12-Aug-2017 06:07   in response to: jpalik in response to: jpalik
 
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On the issue of 'new project" and changing skins, while I can see your argument, i am with jGromit on this.
If I change skin, I expect this to "override the default" in the current project. Then if I choose a new album project i expect all previous selections to be overriden by the default settings.
If I want to use my current settings in a new project, I would probably save the current project under a new name and start again.
jpalik wrote:
You still do not understand. What I was saying is that when the user decides to override the default, it is a user decision.
But, in my opinion, it is a user decision to overide the default in the "current" project, not in a new project that I then elect to start. For me, this new project really is a new project with default settings.
davidekholm

Posts: 21,496
Registered: 18-Oct-2002
Re: UI Clarity Recommendations
Posted: 12-Aug-2017 09:55   in response to: jimberry in response to: jimberry
 
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I tend to a agree with Jim and jGromit. Just how a skin was chosen (via direct user choice or indirectly by loading a project) shouldn't affect how sticky it is. It feels like a software that tries to be "clever" to the extent that one actually wonders how it behaves.

Let's agree to disagree on this one. I'll look into presenting the full, implicit path, grayed-out as a prefix to the relative "album" path entered for "Output directory"
jpalik

Posts: 111
Registered: 19-Feb-2012
Re: UI Clarity Recommendations
Posted: 12-Aug-2017 11:47   in response to: davidekholm in response to: davidekholm
 
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Even though we agree to disagree I really appreciate the conversation.

Will you consider changing the New Album project dialog box (while retaining the current logic) to the mockup I created showing the selected skin. This would satisfy everyone. :-)

Thank you for considering the full path for the user feedback in the output directory. This will clarify where album is being placed for non-techies.

As I said before, many studies show that when all else fails, people read pictures before reading the documentation. In both instances above, the jAlbum feedback would make jAlbum clearer. See the attached screen shots.

It is interesting that when I reviewed attaching the two screen shots of the above recommendations, I remembered that an unexplained change in the Image directory to the original jAlbum default is what started me looking at the jAlbum new project UI.

After going through many iterations of creating new albums to see how jAlbum responded, I realized that this unexplained path change could have been the result of Change directory locations being set as selected being the default. This in combination with some form of user mistake or computer glitch could have resulted in the unexplained directory path change. Just guessing.

Note: when I first reported on this unexplained path change there were a couple of threads from people that said they experienced the same thing.

Maybe changing the default from selected to clear for the Change directory locations would be a better or safer default?

You did not comment on the naming convention to the for the .jap.

Have a great day guys.

Jim Palik
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