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Design Decision No.3

Okay, for those who know that I am busy writing a little piece of software, it is nearing completion.

However I am struggling under a decision for the UI.

Currently the program looks like this (yes I do believe this is the first time I have let anyone look at it, so all comments are appreciated):
http://actionplant.com/calebsoftware/refmate001.jpg
http://actionplant.com/calebsoftware/refmate002expanded.jpg

If the screenshots are clear, there are two 'preview' screens. The top one has the reference that will go at the end of the essay, the bottom one has the reference that will be inserted in the body of the essay.

The program is a Word Add-in.
The program works that I can change the insertion point on the Word document and then press the insert button on the program, and the text inserts.

However as the program looks at the moment, I only have one insert button, however there are two possible sections of text that the user could be wanting to insert. (note they will never need to insert both at once).

I am not sure how to best display this to the user.

Option 1:
http://actionplant.com/calebsoftware/refmate003option201.jpg

This option goes with two insert buttons. However space is cramped and what I can write on the insert buttons is limited. ie 'insert' & 'insert', or 'reference' & 'in-text', however the latter does not nessecarily imply insertion.

Option 2:
http://actionplant.com/calebsoftware/refmate004option202.jpg

In this option I mean to allow the user one-click on the chosen preview, this will highlight the preview, and then the insertion button will work for the highlighted preview.
For a user who does not user his mouse this would provide less keystrokes then option 1, however more mouse clicks.

Could anybody offer any thoughts, suggestions, other ideas.

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Radio buttons next to each choice and two command buttons at the bottom: one for "insert into document" the other for "copy to clipboard"

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

"The top one has the reference that will go at the end of the essay, the bottom one has the reference that will be inserted in the body of the essay."

Does that mean that they will use one style of referencing other documents? Either reference on the page it is cited, or reference at the end of the document? Perhaps this should be a mode the add-in runs in, or a formatting selection in the UI. Just some initial thoughts.

Great idea btw!

m
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Also, have you thought about running some usability tests with (potential) users?

m
Tuesday, February 17, 2004


I think she's going for hallway usability here, which is far better than nothing ...

Matt H.
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

>Also, have you thought about running some usability tests with (potential) users?

Glad you like it.

No, I haven't really considered usability tesing, I suppose it is possible, but  it just seems beyond my scope at the moment.
Unless I rocked up to the university library, laptop in tow and interrupted random people.....

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

>hallway usability

What does this mean?

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Philo's suggestion +

What option is picked more often? 
Have that selection already highlighted and the "Insert" button in focus that way the user can just hit "enter" and the reference will inserted with minimal user interaction.

apw
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

>Does that mean that they will use one style of referencing other documents? Either reference on the page it is cited, or reference at the end of the document? Perhaps this should be a mode the add-in runs in, or a formatting selection in the UI. Just some initial thoughts.

Not sure what you mean by this, however each essay will use both insertions. When I am writing the body of test I might put in a quote ie

"Radio buttons next to each choice" (Philo, 2004)

And then at the end of the essay the proper reference is inserted.

ie
Philo (2004) "Design Decision No. 3" http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware accessed 18th February, 2004

See, both insertions are used in the same essay.

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

>What option is picked more often?

For full on academics this would be estimate would be different, however this program is not aimed at them.
The average Joe at uni studying something and having to knock up an essay will probably use both fairly evenly.

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Great idea for a software product. Let's hope it catches on like Endnote did in the late 80's.

The 2nd one with Insert Reference or Insert In-Text buttons on the bottom.

BTW Massachusetts is spelled wrong.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

>BTW Massachusetts is spelled wrong.

I *knew* someone would say that.

>The 2nd one with Insert Reference or Insert In-Text buttons on the bottom.

The second one only has one insert button, and the user must first highlight the choice.

Or do you mean have two insert buttons side by side at the bottom?

> Let's hope it catches on like Endnote did in the late 80's.
This would be a dream come true...

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Do you want the ability to insert one without the other?  It seems to me that you want both inserted whenever you hit insert and the two edit panes are so you can edit them before they are inserted.  Is that correct.  If so I think the second design is slightly better.

What kind of feedback will you give the user after the insert is done?

name withheld out of cowardice
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

BTW, I just showed it to Mrs. Philo, whose computer expertise epitomizes "opposites attract" - I just showed her the dialog and her eyes lit up - she wants to know when she can buy it.

I'd call that a successful usability test. ;-)

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Yes, I mean two buttons side by side on the bottom, for a total of 3 buttons. I think that would be the clearest, and conforms to Don Norman's "one button per action" edict as well.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

On the other hand if it is one or the other gets inserted I like Philo's solution.  If one or both can be inserted change his radio buttons to check boxes.

name withheld out of cowardice
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

>Do you want the ability to insert one without the other?  It seems to me that you want both inserted whenever you hit insert and the two edit panes are so you can edit them before they are inserted.  Is that correct

- Yes, the ability to insert one without the other (in fact, they will never need to be insert at the same time).
- The edit panes are just preview panes (I think this was discussed in my Diesgn Decision No. 2 post), since this is being inserted into a full blown editor (ie MS Word) there is no need for the user to edit in the program.
- As for user feedback, the program itself will provide none (too annoying to the user), however the user will be able to see the information inserted into the word document. Maybe I could minimise the program so the user can see the results? Good for new users, not so good for experienced users who want bulk data entry and not have to double check things.

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

>Yes, I mean two buttons side by side on the bottom, for a total of 3 buttons. I think that would be the clearest, and conforms to Don Norman's "one button per action" edict as well

See I don't like having it that way. Because then I have the previews running vertically, and the buttons running horizontally, which seperates the button from the preview, as opposed to making the user understand intuitively (sp*) that they work together.

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Definitely use two separate buttons; much easier to make the right choice.  In fact, make it even easier to pick the right button by placing each one below the text that it would insert, rather than to the right.

The second design choice (first click a reference, and then "insert") will probably lead to many cases of inserting the wrong reference, as people just press "Insert" without thinking about which reference is currently selected.  Then they'll have to Undo and insert again.  "Bother", said Poo.

Oren
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I have knocked up a quick demo of Philos idea (option 3), with it I would make the option button change if any part of the preview window is clicked on. There is a term for that, something about giving the user a bigger target area to click on.

However I have zero ftp ability at the moment, consequently the only way I can get a jpp up for viewing is to email it to the guy designing my website who has kindly been putting them up for me....I think he is in bed...

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Make the words Reference and In-Text buttons themselves?

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

>The second design choice (first click a reference, and then "insert") will probably lead to many cases of inserting the wrong reference, as people just press "Insert" without thinking about which reference is currently selected.  Then they'll have to Undo and insert again.  "Bother", said Poo.

I would have to agree with that.
The insert button is never a sure thing until the user first checks which radio button/prreview window is highlighted.

Having seperate buttons means that each insert button is a sure thing. Every single time you click on it, it inserts the exact same preview window.

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

>Make the words Reference and In-Text buttons themselves?
That is what my first option does:
http://actionplant.com/calebsoftware/refmate003option201.jpg

I have just moved the buttons to the right-hand side. I would consider renaming them back to 'Reference' and 'In-Text', however is it clear then that this means 'insert'?
What to do, I hate having two buttons that say 'insert' as it looks like a porrly written program.

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I would prefer a button for each running across the bottom. Given that you don't like it, my second choice would be radio buttons.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Just a thought: presumably this is being done to enforce a references standard, and that once a reference has been inserted in the text it should have the detailed reference put into the end of the document in the references section.

Wouldn't another solution be to not worry about the inserting at the end option entirely, and have your program automatically build the references section when the document is closed, or provide another option for the user to build the entire references section rather than just adding them one by one?

Chris
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

>Wouldn't another solution be to not worry about the inserting at the end option entirely, and have your program automatically build the references section when the document is closed, or provide another option for the user to build the entire references section rather than just adding them one by one?

Things like this have crossed my mind. But I am aiming for simplicity. Think windows calculator as opposed to MS Money.

To do the above suggestions would mean a heck of a lot more usability questions. So yes the idea has crossed my mind, I haven’t given it much thought because it is not really the ‘feel’ that I am after. But if I did give it any thought it wouldn’t be in this release.

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Two buttons.

"Insert reference" or "Insert at end".
"Insert in text"

Are the references added at the end?

If so, then put the "insert in text" stuff on top of the reference stuff.

Have tool tips that describe what is going on a bit better.

The "insert" button at the end is confusing because it is too far from what is being inserted.

Since (english) users, typically associate left-to-right with order-in-time, the buttons should be to the right of the stuff being inserted.

njkayaker
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

+1 for the two button approach-  it's nice when you can count on a given button always doing the same thing.

Suggestion - place each of the previews and their corresponding "insert" button in their own frames:
-------------------------------------------
-                                                  -
-  <in-text preview> <insert btn>-
-                                                  -
-------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------
-                                                  -
-  <rfrnce preview>  <insert btn>-
-                                                  -
-------------------------------------------

or something like that.

Ken
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Well, that didn't come out as expected.  Don't take any UI advice from me!

Ken
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

+1 to Philo's radio button proposal.  A big problem I see with option 1 is that you have two identical buttons and the difference between them is only apparent in context.  Imagine explaining to someone using your program which one they're supposed to press.

The only problem that's been brought up with the radio button plan is that someone might hit the insert button before making the right selection, thereby inserting the wrong text.  This can easily be avoided by not having a default option chosen, and disabling the insert button until the user has made a selection.

Kevin
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

> This can easily be avoided by not having a default option chosen, and disabling the insert button until the user has made a selection.

This is a good point.
The form autoupdates, so why not on update, remove any default ‘insert’, could even disable the insert button until a preview is chosen.
Still it means (without fail) a two button click for every insert.

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

>A big problem I see with option 1 is that you have two identical buttons and the difference between them is only apparent in context. Imagine explaining to someone using your program which one they're supposed to press.

You are right, I should mention I would not consider releasing the program with both buttons saying the same thing. However I am still throwing around ideas for what to put in the button caption.
‘Insert Reference’ and ‘Insert In-Text’ just won’t fit.

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Definitely go with two action buttons, forget the checkbox; why try to guess what they want when they still have to click a button anyway?

Nice idea by the way. In the USA you could probably have patented this, but now it's out in the public so you lost your chance for legal blackmail.

Tom H
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

How is it different from EndNote?

GuyIncognito
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

>How is it different from EndNote?

Endnote is a much bigger, more expensive program. Aimed more at academics. It stores information about books, you can run your essay through it and it will fill in the blanks etc. Academics understand was different referencing styles are about.

My RefMate program is just aimed at the average uni student. Doesn’t know the difference between one style and the next. Needs to reference 5 books for an essay he just wrote, has to be ‘Harvard’ style (or pick any style, the program will cope with many) so he pulls out his ‘style guide’ and gets ready to spend an hour (I kid you note) trying to figure out what to italise, what to underline, etc etc. He is never going to ever need to reference these books again, so he doesn’t need a full blown reference program that has a database.

Just a simple $9 program that is buil-tin word (yes the average uni student has no idea what LaTex is etc), up pops a little dialog box, he pops the info in and presses insert. Turns 1 hour in ten minutes.

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

>Nice idea by the way. In the USA you could probably have patented this, but now it's out in the public so you lost your chance for legal blackmail.

Lost my chance for legal blackmail…I am lost, what do you mean by this?

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Cool, $9 is a lot less than $249. 

Although, university students are pretty cheap, so it might be hard to collect even $9.  They don't want to pay for anything, except maybe alchohol and condoms.

GuyIncognito
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Uni students aren't cheap, they're POOR!

Having to pay $1000+ for books for one semester will do that to you.

Chris Tavares
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Yeah, and then the best part is when the professor never even uses the book.  Then you try to sell it back and you get like .0565% of what you paid for it even though it's never been used.

What a racket!

GuyIncognito
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

>Cool, $9 is a lot less than $249.

My point exactly, every uni student will open there wallet and see a $10 note.
When I was a uni student I know I would have shelled out $9, but I still haven’t shelled out the $25 for a text-editor that I can’t live without. Why not? Because $25 is a lot of money. $9 falls into the impulse category.

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Just an update, loaded some of the other options discusses:
Option 3
http://actionplant.com/calebsoftware/refmate005option203.jpg
Option 4
http://actionplant.com/calebsoftware/refmate006option204.jpg

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I'm getting confused as to which suggestion is which, but here's my thoughts.

Idea 1: two buttons with the full text on them, which means they don't fit to the right. So, instead, put them below the appropriate preview box. You'll probably need to make the previews wider, but (at least for the full reference one) shorter.

Idea 2: two buttons again, to the right as you have them on one of the screenshots, with "Reference" and "In text" on them, and to take care of the ambiguity of the missing verb, a label above the buttons that says "Insert:".

Dunno if either suggestion is any better than the ones already given. Personally, I don't have anything against Philo's radio button approach, but I can see where it would be annoying to have to click two things instead of one. (And radio buttons and amateur keyboard navigators don't get along very well.)

Martha
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

>Idea 2: two buttons again, to the right as you have them on one of the screenshots, with "Reference" and "In text" on them, and to take care of the ambiguity of the missing verb, a label above the buttons that says "Insert:".

Hmm, this may be the way to go.

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

There are a lot of good suggestions here, and if you're still looking for ideas, I have yet another possible variation for you.

In the lower section of the form, include the following controls:
[left side] a listbox sized high enough to show both entries, with the lines "Reference" and "In-text", and with the first entry already selected (place the "In-text" item at the top if it's used more often)
[below this] the checkbox for "First reference for this publication" (this can wrap to 2 lines)
[below the checkbox] a single "Insert" button
[right side, spanning the height of both the listbox and the checkbox] a read-only textbox or label containing the text for the reference or in-text (the contents of this box change when the other entry is selected in the listbox on the left, and the Insert button inserts whichever item is currently selected)
[below this] a "Cancel" or "Close" button
There should also be a label above each of the listbox and the read-only textbox (perhaps something like "Select:" or "Insert:" above the listbox and "Text/Reference for Insertion:" above the textbox). Also, double-clicking the "Reference" or "In-text" entry on the listbox should select that item and insert it without needing to also click the insert button.

This approach still has the problem of requiring 2 clicks in some cases (if the default selection is not the one that's wanted), but it may make the intent a little clearer.

Separately from the above suggestion (and whether or not you use it), you may want to consider a few other minor details in the UI:
- the dropdown control at the top (showing "Book") probably needs a label above it or to the left of it (to explain its purpose) such as "Insert Reference for:"
- add a keyboard accelerator to each of the navigable controls (or at least the most commonly used controls, since you have a lot in the expanded form and you may run out of reasonable accelerator characters)
- remove the underlines from "Reference" and "In-text" if you still use those labels (unless these are intended to be clickable and open an edit dialog, for example)
- either move the "More/Less" button a little higher or space the text boxes above the button a little further apart
- if you haven't already, add tooltips for some of the controls especially the controls for selecting the reference or text and the insert button(s).

Philip Dickerson
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

After seeing the two mockups, the radio buttons option is the least ambiguous, even if it means more clicks.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Mark, I agree, less ambiguous, but I still agree it has a huge 'oops'/annoyance factor.

I am just about to post my final mockups (as much for myself as for anyone interested).

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

(Original Designs:
http://actionplant.com/calebsoftware/refmate001.jpg
http://actionplant.com/calebsoftware/refmate002expanded.jpg)

Option 1 (and associated variations):
(a)http://actionplant.com/calebsoftware/refmate003option201.jpg
(b)http://actionplant.com/calebsoftware/refmateoption1b.jpg
(c)http://actionplant.com/calebsoftware/refmateoption1c.jpg
(d)http://actionplant.com/calebsoftware/refmateoption1d.jpg
(e)http://actionplant.com/calebsoftware/refmateoption1e.jpg

Option 2
(a)http://actionplant.com/calebsoftware/refmate004option202.jpg
(b)http://actionplant.com/calebsoftware/refmate005option203.jpg

Option 3
http://actionplant.com/calebsoftware/refmate006option204.jpg



Okay so I think I have messed around the option1/2 etc title, but the picutres are the same.
I am probably liking (1d) best. Simpler, but doesn't look as nice as my next preference.
Or a hybrid of 2a & b (ie bullets with highlighting), with the highlighting/bullets defaulting to nothing and reseting everytime the form is updated. ie it would have to be a two-click insert. This would avoid the 'oops' factor mostly, but would up the annoyance factor.

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I don't really understand how this will be used, but if the user generally uses one insertion style throughout a document, it would not be a problem to have to choose style (in-text or reference) independently from inserting the reference. As long as the program remembers the previous setting.

I think the confusion and risk of pressing the wrong button would be reduced if you got rid of the two textareas at the bottom with one PREVIEW area, then move the radio buttons above the preview area, something like:

Choose a reference style:
o  Inline
o  Page Footer

And simply a OK and Cancel at the bottom.

Also, make the caption of the dialog box "Insert Reference" (if that's all it does.)

Big B
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I don't completely understand the workflow (i.e. would anyone ever fill out both the Reference and In-Text boxes, but I'm leaning towards 1e now. The lines around the sections really IMHO helps seperate them, though I think the Reference button should be bottom aligned like the In-Text one because it happens after you type the text.

Though the problem is "Reference" as a button just doesn't mean "Go" to me. I don't know what action to expect if I click it. For all I know it spell checks it, or sticks it in a database for later use.

So what about taking 1e as a template, and making the button "Insert" again. Since it's contained in a box, it's pretty much gauranteed they associate it with that text area, and with the label above it's pretty much gauranteed they know what they're inserting.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Or even "Go" as a button. ;-)

Oh, and I'm missing a close paren in the first paragraph.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Because the idea of the preview window is to show what the output would look like and there are two different types of output.

ie->Aussie Chick Writes Essay.
Makes a big stack of all the books she wants to reference (she always just waits until she has finished referencing to do the bibliography, bad habit but she does).
Takes each book in turn, enters the details in the 'RefMate' program. Moves the cursor anywhere in the body of the text where she quoted the book then presses the 'insert intext' button, the 'intext-preview' is inserted. Then goes to the last page of her essay which she has titled 'References', and moves the cursor to the spot she wants the reference then presses 'Insert Reference'.
Repeats this for each book she wants to reference.

So it is good to seperate the previews because it makes it clear to the user.

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Yeh, 1e with a few changes so it doesn't look like there are so many redundant lines.

Change the buttons to 'insert', bottom align (thanks I couldn't figure where to put that top button!). change the frame wording slightly.

Okay, that is a huge possibility.

......Wait, you are just making it harder, I'm wanting to narrow this down from two choices to one choice, not from two choices up to three choices.
I am hoping to finish this tonight, instead I am stuck on this design decision.

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

That's what 1.1 is for. September is far enough away that your major release won't have to be in the bag tonight.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

If you want to go with the "1e" design, I can suggest a few more changes:

- move the "Cancel" button to the bottom right of the form (although from your description of the usage, it should probably be a "Close" button) [and make sure that the "Esc" key causes the same event]
- remove the frame that's around everything below the "Book" dropdown, and remove the horizontal line below the "More" button
- change the captions in the small frames from "Insert Reference" and "Insert In-Text" to "Reference" and "In-Text"
- move the insert buttons to below each text box, and left-justified, within each frame (and optionally make them wider and label them "Insert Reference" and "Insert In-text")
- in the case of the "In-Text" item, the checkbox will then be between the textbox and the button

(Until I saw this "1e" screen, I wasn't aware that the "First reference" checkbox only applied to the "In-Text" item.)

Also, see my other comments a few entries above.

Philip Dickerson
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Sorry Philip I should have replied to your previous post (I did read it *honest*).

Alot of the things you suggested are on my to do list (I probably should have mentioned this), ie keyboard shortcuts, and tooltips (I have those already, you just can't see them!)

>- the dropdown control at the top (showing "Book") probably needs a label above it or to the left of it (to explain its purpose) such as "Insert Reference for:"

I am refraining from doing this as I want a simple form free from clutter, I think I may have had a line like this on one of my very first mock-ups, but the purpose of the dropdown box is quite obvious (See, even you knew what it would be for, and yet you have even had a chance to click on it), so I think any label would be redundant.

>- remove the underlines from "Reference" and "In-text" if you still use those labels (unless these are intended to be clickable and open an edit dialog, for example)
You are right this would be a good idea, underline has become almost synomous with a link.

>- either move the "More/Less" button a little higher or space the text boxes above the button a little further apart

White space isn't so bad, but the actually purpose, is that the number of text boxes changes depending on the type of publication, so there needs to be some space, I played with having the entire form expand, but it looked bad, so just keeping a small buffer zone does the job. And actually works well to again reduce clutter.

>- move the "Cancel" button to the bottom right of the form (although from your description of the usage, it should probably be a "Close" button) [and make sure that the "Esc" key causes the same event]

That is the original position (on the original form it is down there beside the insert button), however if the insert button is brought up into the frames, then I am wasting alot of space for just a single cancel button, which also looks like a bit of a loser down there all by itself!!

>- remove the frame that's around everything below the "Book" dropdown, and remove the horizontal line below the "More" button

Probably personal preference, but I think the frames give definition.

>- change the captions in the small frames from "Insert Reference" and "Insert In-Text" to "Reference" and "In-Text"

Yes I agreed with that one, I think I changed them in one of my mock ups (actually it has been changed in one of the mockups I am still waiting to load).

Again, most of the minor stuff was just dummied up quickly without to much thought so I could give you guys and idea of the layout. I will fine tune when I have decided on the layout.

>- move the insert buttons to below each text box, and left-justified, within each frame (and optionally make them wider and label them "Insert Reference" and "Insert In-text")
Someone else suggested this too, I might do a quick mock up, but I don't like the tower effect it gives.

>- in the case of the "In-Text" item, the checkbox will then be between the textbox and the button
Exactly a good reason why not to do the previous suggestion, this would start looking very messy.

>(Until I saw this "1e" screen, I wasn't aware that the "First reference" checkbox only applied to the "In-Text" item.)

Actually the checkbox being associated is not very important, if an unknowledgable user checked/unchecked it when doing a 'reference' insert, no harm would be done, and a knowledgable user would soon realise that it only effects the in-text checkbox. It was aesthetically pleasing to leave the slight ameguity (shouldn't use big words if you don't know how to spell them)...


Thanks for you time, and despite anything to the contrary, I do appreciate all input, it helps me to think outside the square.

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

>September is far enough away that your major release won't have to be in the bag tonight.

September? You are referring to US Uni students?
Australian students go back on the 1st March, with orientation week next week, and then residential schools in April...

Okay I have got access back to my uni ftp-able account. So this is the (1f) mockup, making the changes mentioned.
http://turing.une.edu.au/~charley/RefMate/refMate%2020040217%20-%20option1f.JPG

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Oops meant to say that I would rather nail something like this, rather then do a complete revamp in a 1.1.

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

This one feels right to me.

Your openness about the design process is very refreshing. I really wish you the best of luck with this product.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

For the longest time, even after having seen the expanded window, I thought that Reference and Intext Reference were what was More. Though clicking it once would disabuse me of that belief. Maybe it's time to move More & Cancel to the bottom?

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

The reason that the "Cancel" button should be at the bottom of the form (even if it's the only button there) is because that's the standard location for a Windows dialog and that's where it is in almost every dialog screen in the operating system and most Windows applications.

If you have Windows XP, there's one more style that you can see that you may want to consider for the lower section of your form. Open the "User Accounts applet from the Control Panel, select an account, and choose "Change my account type". This shows a relatively simple form that has:
- a label heading "Pick a new account type"
- 2 radio buttons (similar to your "reference" and "in-text") arranged horizontally
- a block of text below the radio buttons that changes when you click either radio button to reflect the selected radio button (actually it changes on mouseover, but also on clicking the radio button)
- 2 buttons at the bottom: "Change Account" and "Cancel" (equivalent to your "Insert" and "Cancel")

Philip Dickerson
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

>Your openness about the design process is very refreshing. I really wish you the best of luck with this product.

Thanks.

Well I might play around with it a little, fine tune etc. It just might do...

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

>Maybe it's time to move More & Cancel to the bottom?

I didn't think of moving both of them, but then I like the 'more' inside the frames because it is in reference to the frames.

Is this what you meant Philip when you said move the cancel, sorry if I misread...

Worth a look anyway.

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Thoughts:

http://turing.une.edu.au/~charley/RefMate/refMate%2020040217%20-%20option1fb.JPG

http://turing.une.edu.au/~charley/RefMate/refMate%2020040217%20-%20option1g.JPG

I am thinking it looks good. Not sure which I prefer though, but definetly one of these two.

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Wow, just sitting back staring at the two designs, I am really happy with them, even with the buttons at the bottom which suprises me.

Thanks for all your input, it is nice to be going solo at home and still be able to spend half a day discussing the pros and cons of various design ideas. Then to come up with something that mostly was input from other people makes me really appreciated having a forum of this calibre.

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Hmm. The first I think you have our thoughts on. The second is nice, though the center looks a little bare... Though people will understand why when they select another item and see how the size if the fields changes.

One comment... The More button is where the Cancel button traditionally would be - lower righthand corner. Instinct would be to click that to close the window. The cancel button then is where the OK button would be, though I doubt anyone would accidentally click it, but you never know.

Am I making things more confusing for you?

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Not really, but I *really* am objecting to leaving the 'cancel' button at the bottom alone. If for no other reason then it would waste space.
The two buttons need to be side-by-side.

And yet bot buttons need to be on the right.
One because it is tradition, the other because it makes visual sense.

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Well given those restrictions I'm not sure.

You can rename Cancel "Close" which may or may not change the meaning too much for you, though still Close is traditionally on the bottom right.

You can change "More >> / << Less" to "Detailed / Simple/" and move it left. Again, I don't know if this is better or worse from a usability perspective.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Detailed/Simple almost implies and advanced/simple kind of functionality.

So as a user I would wonder 'what does the advanced tab offer'. When in reality the 'advanced' tab just offers lots of infrequently used functions.

Worth a thought though.

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Isn't that what advanced is? Lots of infrequently used functions. Sometimes they're not coded into the GUI because they're so infrequently used, and it really does take an advanced user to figure them out.

Maybe just Extras, or More Detailed. Here is where it helps to have a good thesaurus.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Sorry, I've come to this one a bit late. Just a couple of thoughts. I think the suggestion about Close rather than Cancel is important. Naive users will worry that if they press Cancel, they will lose the work they've already done. And it should be at the bottom of the form.

Although I like having More up with the content it refers to, I don't think it's a big problem having it at the bottom, as people can discover by experiment what it does. Personally, I wouldn't worry about the "waste of space", as my instinct is that your user is going to close this window before they do anything else, so I would have the two buttons on different lines, but it's very much a matter of taste.

Lastly (donning editorial hat), it is not usual to capitalize "et al." and "et" should not have a dot after it, as it is not an abbreviation. You don't want to get your students in trouble with their pedantic professors!

Overall though, I like it. Good stuff.

Dave Hallett
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I would put more vertical space in between the fields and the Reference options.

John Topley (www.johntopley.com)
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I am down to the following three screenshots:

(1f)http://turing.une.edu.au/~charley/RefMate/refMate%2020040217%20-%20option1fb.JPG

(1g)http://turing.une.edu.au/~charley/RefMate/refMate%2020040217%20-%20option1g.JPG

(1h)http://turing.une.edu.au/~charley/RefMate/refMate%2020040217%20-%20option1h.JPG

(1i)http://turing.une.edu.au/~charley/RefMate/refMate%2020040217%20-%20option1i.JPG

I don't like (1h) because I find my eyes draw immediately down the row of 4 buttons, and this disorientates me and makes me feel isolated.

I used (1g) for a bit, and I definitely found myself about to press 'more' everytime I wanted to close the form, even though I knew I had designed the form! So I agree with Mark on that one.

I find (1f) more visually pleasing, but I know people have a bit to say about the cancel button not being at the bottom-right. I actually have less of a problem using this one then I do trying to use (1g). I think because (1g) actually has a button in the place where I would expect the 'cancel' button, by the time I realise it is not the cancel button, I am half way there.

I have thrown (1i) out there, I think this may be the one (have I said that before).

Thoughts?

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

>Lastly (donning editorial hat), it is not usual to capitalize "et al."

Thanks, this was my mistake, but thankfully the style is not hardcoded into the program. The style is written in a sort of mark-up language (stored in a text file) that the program parses.

Thanks for your other comments, (I am considering the close/cancel thing).

+ Mark I have kind of skipped over the simple/advance/detailed (pull out theasuarus now) stuff, I was looking at it and then I thought for once less is more, and those two simple words are probably clearer then anything else I could imagine.

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

>I would put more vertical space in between the fields and the Reference options.

do you mean between the two groups, or in between the individual elements of each group?

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

In between the "Title", "Author/s", "Publisher" etc. fields and also in between the frames around the "Reference" and "Intext-Reference" groups. It's not usual to have those overlapping in Windows.

Also, you might consider having the title of the frame (e.g. "Reference") breaking up the top line of the frame. See the "Screen Saver" setting in the Windows Display properties sheet for an example of this.

John Topley (www.johntopley.com)
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

>Also, you might consider having the title of the frame (e.g. "Reference") breaking up the top line of the frame.

http://actionplant.com/calebsoftware/refmateoption1e.jpg
http://turing.une.edu.au/~charley/RefMate/refMate%2020040217%20-%20option1f.JPG

I did play around with it a little, but preferred making the frames look more like borders.

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

You're right, "H" looks like a row of buttons, and I think it suffers from the "the bottom part looks like what's more" problem.

"I" looks strange... The More really does belong on the right.

I'd comment more, but I'm in the middle of something :)

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Well I am sticking with (1i) unless someway can present an extraordinarily good reason why I shouldn't.

thankyou everyone!!!

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

And THANK YOU! Aussie Chick.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Well you shouldn't stick with 1i because you completely ignored my advice! ;-)

John Topley (www.johntopley.com)
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I really think you need to go back and rethink what the program is for.

Seems to me that a program will only be super helpful if it reduces inserting a reference to one step rather than two. So I go to the dialog, enter the reference stuff, and click OK. The intext stuff goes into my document, and the citation itself goes to the end. The first time, maybe, ask where it goes (endnote vs. footnote vs. last page of document) and create some sort of Field code in Word. After that, just insert a reference using one Insert (or OK) button, and the program ought to do the two steps for you.

There are two problems with inserting a reference. One is getting the format right. Your program helps with that in your design. The other problem is that a reference goes into two places: you have to insert in the text then jump to the end to insert the citation. Then go back up in the text for the next one. This is a job your program could simplify, but doesn't. It should be one task; you make it two.

With your design, some student is going to insert a long citation, click the button to insert the short citation in text, then go to the next one. Insert all the details about a book. insert the citation in the text. Repeat 25 times. Then figure out that all that work is lost as only the short intext citations got inserted  (the easy part), and all the rest (the long formatted citations, the hard part) got lost. Then he or she will tell his or her friends what a lousy program it is...

How do you cycle from one reference to the next? Need a clear button?

Harvey Motulsky
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I do not know how capable your API is, or whether you may have the time...

But why not an internal drop-down menu to pop up one or the other section.  Those two are obviously independent of each other, and are not used.

Or even better, a plain 2 buttons, each starting with "Add...", and opening another entry window, where the user would type in the new item, and press enter (Insert/Add).

Ensure that those buttons are accessible with internal hotkeys, and tab-able right after the default for 'close/cancel'.

That way, you can move the checkbox to the "Add Reference" to note "First reference?"

T.J.
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

She took my suggestion!  Yay!

Ken
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Or even better, take those two out.

Enable the user to highlight the text just typed, right click, "Reference" - select previously known work, or add new reference.

Include checkboxes to say, "Add reference to end of paper?"  Blah blah.

The user will then be able to take advantage of the editor's spell and grammar checker to ensure they did not make a careless typo.  Just highlight, reference... BAM!  Done for that. 

Add a button to Word's toolbar to add new reference materials.

T.J.
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Just my two cents.

I think your program lacks some basic features to make it useful. I am not sure that, as it looks now, it justifies the pain of installing it. One major problem with references is synchronising between the in-text references and the reference list in the end. The other is that entering the reference information in the program is rather time-consuming. Does your program save that information somehow? Having to enter the data for the same book several times for several papers is the kind of thing that would make me use dirty words. It's nice to make simple small applications, but not at the cost of basic functionality.

Dimitri.
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Haven't you guys ever heard of version 1.0! 

I say get the program out and released and then start working on the additional functionality. 

All the features suggested here are good ones but there isn't an infinite amount of time to do them all.  And maybe "good enough" is all that is required for this project.

Almost Anonymous
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

>Mr Topley: Well you shouldn't stick with 1i because you completely ignored my advice! ;-)

*L*, well I didn't completely ignore it. I ignore one point, and am considering hte other!

>How do you cycle from one reference to the next? Need a clear button?
Thanks, good point, I will chuck this in.

>The other problem is that a reference goes into two places: you have to insert in the text then jump to the end to insert the citation. Then go back up in the text for the next one. This is a job your program could simplify, but doesn't. It should be one task; you make it two.

Yes, it could be simplified, but not this version, I need more usability testing (ie get it out there) to see what else is important, personal I find that a WYSIWYG type of program suits me. I click 'insert in-text' and the in-text reference appears at my cursor point, ditto for the full reference. Nothing else going on, nothing else is being inserted anywhere. Perhaps next release I will include an option to allow the reference to be auto-inserted at the end of the essay. You see this opens a big can of worms though, so it is best to wait until I have time to review it.

>T.J.
I am confuised about what you are saying, but the user *needs* both reference and will (in almost all cases, unless they are referencing a work that they did not quote, or quoted a work using the 'such and such said' manner). Though your 'add ref to end of paper' checkbox is something worth considering for next release.

>The other is that entering the reference information in the program is rather time-consuming. Does your program save that information somehow?

This is penned down for consideration in a later version, but for now you must remember that there would be very little need for it, we are talking about uni students not academics, they only read what they have to, so most publications will only ever get referenced once. The trouble of finding one reference in a database of a few hundred almost makes it easier just to retype.

>All the features suggested here are good ones but there isn't an infinite amount of time to do them all.  And maybe "good enough" is all that is required for this project.

Thankyou. Also remember this is a $9 program, not a $249 full-fledged database program. The student needs to use a little bit of thinking, but the program does most of it for them. Referencing looks easy, but it is not, to reference ten books would take me an hour or two. It was painful, and my head hurt at the thought of doing it. I had just finished applying myself to writing a wonderful essay, I was drained but now I had to write this darn bibliography, where is my 'style guide'.....

Sorry guys, when it comes down to it, I am the author and i have the responsibility of saying when enough is enough and saying 'that can wait until the next release'. This is not to say I am ignoring you, actually a few months ago when I was nearly at the stage I am now at member of this list suggested I correct a few important things and he was absolutely right, they *had* to be done. I think most of this othe stuff can wait.

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

A still semi-manual way to do it would be to have an "Insert in-text reference" window much like the one you've been working on, only simpler--the only choice the user has to make is whether this is the first reference or not. For the last-page stuff, have a command like "Insert Bibliography". This would look through the document, find the in-text references, and construct the full bibliography for them. The understanding is that the bibliography is the last step, right before 'print' or 'email to prof'. (I.e. if you change your mind and fiddle with the references, you need to delete and regenerate the bibliography.) It seems like this should be simple enough if you've demarcated your references appropriately, e.g. with bookmarks.

Of course, if everything in software was really as simple as it seemed, nobody would ever have schedule overruns...

Martha
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

What no voice recognition?

GuyIncognito
Thursday, February 19, 2004

Aussie Chick, give this thread a few days, then cut+paste the whole lot into Word and save locally. Otherwise you'll have the agony of seeing all the help disappear into the ether in about 3 months when you really ned it.

Justin
Thursday, February 19, 2004

Thanks for the advice Justin, I will take note.

Actually for once I am actually asking questions as I need them.

ie this issue has been decided and implemented. And further comments will be added to the 'nice to do next time' list.

Aussie Chick
Thursday, February 19, 2004

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