Monday, July 17. 2006
Welcome to Usability Reviews, a new video podcast run by me and David Barrett. Excuse the lack of polish, we are quite new to this. Hopefully the content is what you'll enjoy if not the beautiful scenery of my front porch
Welcome to Usability Reviews, a new video podcast run by me, and David Barrett. Usability reviews is kindly hosted by YouTube and Minds. Click on the show to play it, otherwise you can access it in Quicktime format(45 megs)or in iPod format(31 megs). Hope you enjoy
Apologies, we've pulled the video down from youtube, as their terms and conditions basically mean we give up all our rights to the material, and as ZeFrank put it "They can make money off our work however the f**k they want". It's now on Googles video site, and you can watch it here.
What is this show about?
Web applications are dialog by dialogue between the end user and the server. You can test how usable a web application is by simply examinig the dialog between the user and the application. If it seems like a friendly interaction that is short sweet and to the point, it's a good sign. If the user wants to say things and the application simply isn't listening, or is mis-understanding them, it's a really bad sign.Simple changes in the dialog can result in massive improvements in the usability of the application. Take a simple signup page for example. If I want to sign up for the latest greatest hippest application out there, I am hoping to do so very quickly. Lets look at 2 sign up pages...
When you're designing an application you should look at eliminating as much fluff as you can from aspects such as sign up. For example, there is no point in having a separate page that simply says "Do you agree to our terms and conditions? Yes/No" Why not have that as part of the first page, or do as Yahoo! does, have the Next Button actually say "I agree to the terms and conditions".
So where does this show come in?
In this show we're gonna look at the good and the bad in terms of dialogue. We may move onto Comparing and Contrasting web applications at a later date, at the moment we are still finding our feet. We may at a later date look at tailshq or FogBugz, or another web based bug manager, if you'd be interested in that, let us know.
Did you manufacture this dialogue?
Nope. Bugzilla is an application I use quite often, while trying to do my bit for the open source community. The bug I was reporting had been solved, I was just recollecting the experience I had while reporting it. Here are the screenshots if you don't believe me. In my opinion, many of these screenshots could be amalgamated easily, and some of them just shouldn't be there.
Bugzilla is free and works for soo many projects, why are you ragging on it?
So why a video podcast?
I like blogging, and I think video podcasting gives you an oppurtunity to say a lot more, while not taking up too much a visitors time. People can listen quicker than they can read, and I certainly talk faster than I type, so its a new medium that could work out well for this type of article. If its popular enough, we'll probably do a mini series assessing various applications we find around the web. If it bombs, then I'll go back to writing articles/posts here for the few that read them.
I've created a new category for this show, so that if you just want to see Usability Reviews and not the rest of my weblog, you can subscribe to the above feed exlusively. Alternatively, you can subscribe to the whole weblog by using the feed in the side bar.
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I love the idea of showing what's wrong with websites using a human to human dialog as a metaphor.
However... please get a decent microphone set that you can clip on. It sounds like you're in the shower right now
Also, it's good to make fun of usability issues, but how about talking about the solutions to them as well?
Finally, bugzilla might be the wrong project to have a go at, it is meant (mostly) for developers or "geeks" who know what they're doing or actually sort of enjoy the challange of finding out how it works.
I recommend giving "The inmates are running the asylum" by Alan Cooper a read.
Keep up the good work, usability is an important subject to talk about!
Wow, talk about usability... I didn't notice that there was a long article under the video, I actually thought the sign-up pages were a part of THIS site haha.
Okay, I've read the answers to "Bugzilla is free and works for soo many projects, why are you ragging on it?"
If you want to solve answer #1: you're targetting the wrong audience with this video
For #2: It could be so much better, but (as I mentioned above) please come up with idea how it could be better.
One more thing, I'd love an RSS feed for the podcast episodes so I can subscribe to it.
Thanks for your comment and your advice. We will try to get better equipment if we do another show.
As for targeting the wrong audience, you may be right, but this is really just a testing the water step into video blogging. We will look at commercial web apps in our series, and as such hopefully we won't step on as many toes
As regards coming up with a better idea, I have been thinking about this, and I will, when I get a chance, do up a mockup as to how an end user should be asked to report a bug. I will show how I think it should work, I will do it in a follow up post under this category.
Finally regarding an RSS feed for the podcast, I am not entirely sure how to do this. Could you plesae explain how or point to links. (I am still quite new to the video blogging etc)
The audience point is only partly true. Many open source projects direct users to log bugs via bugzilla. The users may not be terribly geeky, and their patience with something like bugzilla may evaporate really quickly. Maybe it just needs a streamlined path for non-developers to log bugs.
I agree that there should be a non-technical interface to bug submission. Funnily enough, the interface we reported there, calls itself the "Simple Bug Submission" interface
I also think that it should be easy to see what are the "Top 10 most reported bugs", or something. So that if they release a verison of the product that has some glaringly obvious flaws, people won't keep reporting them. They'll realise that its known about. This would be nice cause it'd save you the hassle of searching. Suse do this really well, on their download page...
"Read the Most Annoying Bugs for Alpha2 before you decide to download and test it."
If Bugzilla had a decent API maybe developers of a project could create their own interface to bugzilla, basically using the database layout, issue tracker etc, but not having to use the gray and dismay interface itself.
Cheers for reading,
Even though Bugzilla is used by developers, it is still a very good idea to design for the least technical user. Even if your user is a geek, he is typically using your system while doing 10 other different things, maybe on a laptop with a bad trackpad, in hurry, being interrupted and distracted etc etc. This means he/she only has max 10% of his brain devoted to figuring out the app.
And poor bugzilla usability was a big factor in us developing our own bug tracker - since we could not get normal people - our clients to make good use of Bugzilla.
Nice work lads.
I AM a developer and I still find Bugzilalge gets in my way. The project I'm using it on is not that big so I spend more time putting in bulshit answers than the important bits.
I'm sure it's fine for big projects but other than that it's as annoying as hell!
Fair juice to you guys for actaully sitting down in front of a camera and doing this ..... I'm not sure I'd have the balls! My audio podcast was pushing it for me!
Anyhow, looking forward to the next installment!
Bugzilla treats me like a gimp. Have to use it down here at the TSSG in Waterford though.
Good video guys and look forward to more. Maybe you can do one on the new Office 2006 interface (which I think works well.)
Thanks for your comment, My condolences are with you if you have to work with bugzilla on a regular basis.
As for Office 2k6, I am not sure if the dialogue metaphor extends to Office style applications, but I will have a look at it when I get a chance. I do agree that it looks like microsoft have done really fantastic stuff with the new interface. Probably their best work in years.
Hope you keep watching,
Have a look at Gnomes bugzilla (bugs.gnome.org), they've pimped it. Also, any chance of that video in an open standard format like Ogg Theora? Is it Creative Commons licenced? If so I'll convert it myself (when I get back from honeymoon).
Aidan, it was Gnomes bugzilla that I was using. To submit a bug report I went here...
and when you click on the "Submit a bug report" it takes you to Gnomes Bugzilla.
If that's a pimped up Bugzilla, I'd hate to see it before Xzibit got near it.
re: The show. It's in quicktime, and flash. So I have a .mov file. If there is any command I can run that will make it easy for you to watch it, let me know. You have permission to transcode it to anything you want, and if you do, please let me know, and I'll link to the new options you create.
As here (http://www.annodex.net/node/57) says, to convert mov to theora you can do one of
ffmpeg2theora -o example.ogg example.mov
mplayer -ao pcm -vo yuv4mpeg example.mov
* gst-launch -v oggmux name=mux ! filesink location=example.ogg filesrc location=example.mov ! qtdemux name=demux ! queue ! ffdec_h264 ! ffmpegcolorspace ! theoraenc ! mux. demux. ! queue ! faad ! audioconvert ! vorbisenc ! mux.
The GStreamer pipleine is a bit hairy, but it breaks down all the steps a-la UNIX.
Great start lads I am looking forward to the next one. Hey, if you want to do myweb app...
If you want any tips on improving the video and sound give me a shout.
Thanks a million for your kind words. We may look at your web app(s) soon enough, we'll be sure to give you a heads up of course.
Thank you also for the offer of help, it may well be called in.
Good work lads. I laughed out loud a couple of times. I really like the conversation metaphor, it makes your points really well. Might I suggest that you do an episode on the Gimp itself? Though, it's so hard to use it might even be difficult to dramatise
Thanks for that Tg,
I'd very much like to offer a shitload of constructive criticism and suggestions for the Gimp, but I see 2 obstacles.
1) I don't think desktop software lends itself neatly to the conversation metaphor, when there is a user/server its easy enough to script, but its difficult to express what is being said with desktop software.
2) I don't think the Gimp developers really give 2 shits about the usability of their product, honestly. Its the only way I can explain an article like this...
Gimp has made me learn MS Paint, thats how annoying it is to me.
Brilliant - more please! As for software suggestions... I'll think of one - webmail,maybe? The idea is fantastic.
I disagree about desktop software, in so far as the conversation aspect of the interaction still holds true; it's probably more a case of how much you abstract it from what it's actually doing.
The review is great. Very informative and well conducted.
However, I have a usability request of my own from this website. Could it find a better way to let users know which comment is a child of which previous comment and which is a root level comment. The site does attempt to show that using indentation but it is not very intuitive. A better visual cue shall help.
Hey Des, I just got round to watching this.
+1 for more of the same.
Maybe with a few more screenshots to show what you're on about.
Had a good laugh over this.. reminded me somewhat of my own first time struggling through Bugzilla.
(Like #2 said.. better audio would be appreciated; Episode two is a bit better, but volume is low.. )
My name is Des, I'm the UX Lead and COO of Intercom, a fantastic CRM & messaging tool for web sites and web software.