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Fog creek web site usability

Hi,

I was just wondering why there isn't a link to "What does CityDesk do" in fog creek's main page - I had to find my way in not very visible links just to learn what is City Desk all about.

By the way - the underline text boxes are pretty cool and, even though I was lost in my first access, now I believe then to be more natural-looking than that horrible (and sometimes inevitable) text boxes.

Ricardo Shimoda Nakasako
Monday, October 15, 2001

Are you the guy who works for Algarnet?

Friend
Monday, October 15, 2001

oops... worked... :-)

Friend
Monday, October 15, 2001

CityDesk is still not officially shipping... while it's in beta there's no mention of it on the main Fog Creek Site.

Joel Spolsky
Monday, October 15, 2001

Well, what do you call this fragment of HTML (straight from the front page of fogcreek.com) then?

<BR>
<BR>

<td valign="top" style="border-top: 1px solid gray" width=108><img alt="CityDesk" border="0" src="citydesk-soon.jpg" width="108" height="90">
        </td>
        <td valign="top" style="border-top: 1px solid gray" width="50%"><div class="headline">CityDesk</div>
          <div class="teaser">Desktop Content Management</div></td>

Anon Lover
Monday, October 15, 2001

just an amuse-bouche!

http://newtimes.rway.com/2001/090501/eats.shtml

Joel Spolsky
Tuesday, October 16, 2001


>>just an amuse-bouche!




Gesundheit!

Anon Lover
Tuesday, October 16, 2001

On a small issue of usability, why are the links back to the discussion topics & fog creeks home only at the bottom of the page? Combined with long threads makes navigation slightly awkward.

It would also be nice if there was a direct link back to the JoelOnSoftware home on the thread page, rather than just the topic page.

Actually while I'm griping, why isn't the JoelOnSoftware header a link back to its home, like the fog creek header?

Maybe you can over analyse these things :)

Oh yes, the design's nice.

Graham Carlyle
Tuesday, October 16, 2001

Oh, Joel never follows his own advice.

fogBUGZ, for example.  The Admin Tools menu line has some fields that are clickable and some that are not--but they all look exactly the same.  Joel complains about exactly this on p.28 of UI Design. <g>

Chris Dunford
Tuesday, October 16, 2001

If there is a usability problem with our software, its because of oversite, not because of design.

Just point it out and we'll fix it (or ignore you because you are one of those people who installs Opera and turns off CSS and javascript, and then complains cuz our website doesn't look right to you :-)

Now what do you mean with the Admin Tools menu...
You mean the part that says "Projects Users Site"?  What isn't clickable there that looks like it should be?

Michael Pryor
Tuesday, October 16, 2001

Michael Pryor wrote:
> Just point it out and we'll fix it (or ignore you because
> you are one of those people who installs Opera and
> turns off CSS and javascript, and then complains cuz our
> website doesn't look right to you :-)

I find this attitude slightly disturbing. But that might be because I have this pipe dream that good HTML and web site design will render well on *any* browser, not just on one of the "Big Two" running under Windows. ("Graceful degradation" is, I believe, the word here -- even if a browser doesn't support, say, HTML 4 or CSS or JavaScript or whatever, it should still work.) Even people with Opera, or Lynx, or Cello/Amaya/Konqueror/HotJava or whatever, should be able to navigate and use your website and should not be subject to derision just because they don't use MSIE 6.0 on Windows with at least 1024x768 resolution, 32K colours, and all the exploits^Wactive code options turned on.

This includes, for example, not relying solely on style sheets to distinguish headers from inline text :) (though I'll admit you changed that a little so it works better).

Cheers,
Philip

Philip Newton
Wednesday, October 17, 2001

<What isn't clickable there that looks like it should be? >

Well, -nothing- looks like it's clickable, and that's half of the problem. FogBugz appears to violate the precepts set down in the Affordances section of Joel's book--in this case, things that are clickable should -look- clickable.  Projects, Users, and Site don't look clickable, but they are.  (Ditto for the other two "menus", by the way.)

The other half of the problem is that some of the items are clickable ("Projects Users Site") and some aren't ("Admin Tools"), but they all look the same. I had to laugh because Joel uses a picture of the E*Trade home page (p.28) to complain about this exact thing.

This is NOT a big deal.  It was simply amusing because I happened to be reading that section of the book at the same time we were implementing FogBugz.  FogBugz is a terrific product, and we're extremely pleased with it.

Chris Dunford
Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Philip wrote:
"I find this attitude slightly disturbing. But that might be because I have this pipe dream that good HTML and web site design will render well on *any* browser, not just on one of the "Big Two" running under Windows."

I learned from selling shrink wrapped software that no matter what you do, someone always wants you to do it differently.
I learned from Joel On Software that no matter what you say, something will always be there to disagree with you.

Now both of these things are not necessarily bad (in fact criticism makes you <and your product> stronger), but you learn to take it with a grain of salt.

Someone suggested you shouldn't never set your body background to white because someone might like white text on a black background.  Also they thought you should never set your font in a web page.  Why would you want to do something which is going to cause you pain on almost every site you visit?

If you can design your site so it looks good AND displays perfectly on every known browser, then you should.  If it will take you 3 times as long to get your site to look good in the .1% of people who actually use HotJava, then is it really worth the effort? (Not for me... but maybe if your the NYT web designer it is)

If someone emails me and says their .1% market share browser can't read my page and the fix is easy, then I'll do it.  If it isn't, I'll thank them and get back to fixing bugs.

Michael Pryor
Wednesday, October 17, 2001

I think one of the things to keep in mind is "know your audience".

Realisticly, if you are designing shrink wrapped software, you need to design for people without much of a clue.

However, FogBugz and this discussion forum are designed for DEVELOPERS who should know the basics of finding their way around a webpage.

I think people are just having a bit of a whine. It is waaaaay to easy to criticise just for the hell of it.

Damian
Thursday, October 18, 2001

Michael, thanks for your comments.

You wrote:
> Someone suggested you shouldn't never set your body
> background to white because someone might like white
> text on a black background. Also they thought you
> should never set your font in a web page. Why would
> you want to do something which is going to cause you
> pain on almost every site you visit?

Perhaps because they have vision problems and they prefer the contrast of white on black? Similarly, perhaps someone sets their fonts really big in order to be able to distinguish text, and then they get pain whenever someone says "you must use FooFont in 10 point size". But they can't help their eyesight.

Or people who turn off JavaScript for security reasons, or whose company proxy filters it out -- that causes people pain on some websites which rely on it for navigation or whatever. But the benefits outweigh the risks and pain, for them.

Also, some people just have weird tastes, and they prefer to exercise their control without someone else's tastes being foisted on them. Often, the main point of a web site is delivering information, and not presenting a graphical "experience" -- in that case, it can be worth while giving people the power to be themselves if it won't hinder your ability to convey that information. Otherwise one might as well use PDF for all web sites to make sure that they look exactly the way the designer wants, then you don't need any single pixel transparent GIFs, style sheets, or anything funky like that, and it'll "work" on *all* browsers.

> If you can design your site so it looks good AND displays
> perfectly on every known browser, then you should.

Sometimes it seems as if it's easier to *not* break things for specific browsers. (Simple things such as not *requiring* JavaScript or CSS support, by providing "graceful fallback", for example. Or not requiring the use of colour for navigation -- "click the red picture to go on and the green picture to go back" is not useful for colour-blind people. In other words, using tools to enhance your web site but not making them necessary.)

Cheers,
Philip

Philip Newton
Thursday, October 18, 2001

Sorry, have never worked there...

Ricardo Shimoda Nakasako
Wednesday, October 24, 2001

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