Archive for the ‘Development’ Category
Yes, I promised new things well over a week ago. My excuse is that I picked up a cold during my trip to the Middle of Nowhere that took me out of commission for a solid week. 😛 But, now that that is over…
I’ll probably talk more about how the development went in another post. Right now, though, I’m thinking over the whole “Walled Garden” argument.
For many of the apps, both the data source and the data sink reside inside the Garden – Facebookers talk to other Facebookers. For another large chunk, the data source is outside, but the sink is still inside – Stock quotes, sports scores, etc.
For BeerRiot, I’ve managed to allow the data source as well as the data sink to be on either side of the wall. Beers and comments added by Facebookers can be seen by non-Facebookers, and the other way around. Really, I’m just using Facebook something like an OpenID provider.
Of course, for some apps this isn’t necessary, and for others it may be impossible. But, it feels like this is the right way to think going forward. Using this method, there would be nothing stopping me from bridging more walls to connect more gardens together, while still keeping the web at large in the loop.
Okay, I’m about to fall asleep, and I can’t tell if this blog post is just simple fluff or not, but I’m going to post it anyway. Post in the comments if you like/dislike the FB app, what you think of Walled Gardens, or how bad this post really is.
I’m not a fan of “settings” pages. They give a terrible interaction experience.
To change settings on a settings page, I have to stop what I’m doing; open the settings page; find, change, and often save the setting; then find my way back to what I was doing. If my change wasn’t exactly what I wanted, I have to do it all over again.
More often than not, this breaks my concentration to the point where it may take me minutes to figure out what I had been doing, and get back to it. Productivity tends toward zero.
So, I’m trying something different with BeerRiot. I’m going to try to keep all settings relevant to the page they affect on the page they affect. No need to leave to find the setting elsewhere – just change it and update.
I forsee only a couple of occasions that I’d ever have to make an exception: the structures to change the setting would consume too much space, or the setting doesn’t relate to any other page. The latter is already exemplified by email and password settings.
I think these exceptions being on separate pages may make sense, though. If the structures take a lot of space, they may be complicated, so focusing on them alone may be helpful. If they’re not related to the page I’m on, then I’m probably not worried about getting back to that page after I change them.
Today I have the default map view setting on the map view page, maximum item list lengths on each item list page, and each member’s public information on their own public page. I think they fit pretty well, but of course I’d like to hear what you all think.
Also, does anyone know of any research on this topic? I’ve read a bit of general user-interface stuff, but I don’t recall anything that specifically spoke to “settings” pages.
Don’t Throw Out Maybe Yet!
Jeffrey Zeldman’s post “Maybe” is one option too many caught my eye this afternoon. I completely agree with him that “maybe” is a pain in the neck. From my vantage point, yes/no (or like/dislike) are the only user inputs that really matter.
Most of you will notice that BeerRiot has a third option – “shrug”. It wasn’t always this way. The first versions of BeerRiot had no middle ground – you liked a beer, or you disliked it. I was staunch in my position, callously telling people that they should make up their mind.
It wasn’t until over half of the first twenty people to which I showed BeerRiot asked, “Where’s ‘meh’?” that I started to change my thinking. I started to realize that being forced to make a black/white decision was making people uneasy. They really wanted the comfort of being able to postpone making their choice.
The decision was pretty easy at that point. I wanted people to stay around my site. Therefore, it seemed a good idea to make them comfortable. Shrug was born.
In the time since introducing shrug, I’ve found it to be more than just indecision. It’s a way to acknowledge the existence of a thing, without passing judgement. For beer voting, it lets me know that although I have no strong feelings about a beer, I have tried it (something I have trouble remembering with the wide variety available). I can see it working similarly for party invites: it lets the organizer know that even though I don’t know my schedule, I have, in fact, received the invitation.
Here’s another way to think about it. Suppose there is no “maybe” option. You must either accept or decline the invitation. So, what are people who don’t respond? Are they not “maybe”? Maybe you’re a pessimistic person: you consider non-responders “no”. Okay, then, if all non-responders are “no”, then why even have a “no” option? Why not just have “yes”? A unary system – respond “yes”, or you don’t exist.
For BeerRiot, at least, that would seriously cut my dataset. I think the same would be true for party invites. You couldn’t even tell what kind of buffer you might want to plan for – all you would know is the number of people who are definitely coming. Or in BeerRiot’s case, I couldn’t tell if a beer is controversial – I’d only know the number of people who like it.
So, I say don’t throw maybe out yet. It’s more than just indecision. It’s user comfort and metadata all rolled into one.
I’ll leave you with this, though: I don’t see the point in more than three choices. “Kind-of-like” and “Sort-of-dislike” are even less data than maybe to me. At least with “maybe” I can tell the voter is unsure. With “maybe-like”, I can’t tell if she’s unsure or genuinely less positive about this beer than others.
P.S. I love Bill W.’s comment about rating other people’s ratings. It’s exactly the kind of problem that BeerRiot tries to solve.
As some of you may have noticed, BeerRiot – Local is live. Thanks to Corey for planting the seed – it’s a mashup of Brewery locations and Google Maps. It’s not exactly what I had planned at the outset, but I think it may be even better. 🙂
I call it “Local”, but in reality, I just dump all of the breweries I know about onto the map. If you scroll away from wherever the map started, you’ll find all of the other breweries in the proper places.
This makes things a little slower – there’s over 100 pins on there. I checked out ACME’s “Clusterer”, but I just wasn’t happy with the interaction it gave. I’ll have to come up with some other solution soon, but for now, it looks like things actually run pretty decently as long as I’m not browsing with the G4 on which I’m also running my SQL server, web server, Safari with 10 other tabs, iTunes, emacs… You get the idea.
So, why Local as the next feature? Well, it has been one of the most requested features for one thing. For another, I really think it’s important to drink locally. Drinking locally immerses you in the culture of the location, supports the smaller-scale guys honing their craft, and saves energy. Try some homebrew for the ultimate in local, but barring that, seek out any professional in your area and find our what they’re pouring.
If you’re interested in more reasons that drinking locally (or even just drinking beer in general) is a good idea, I recommend finding a copy of Chris O’Brien’s Fermenting Revolution. Hey – and it looks like Chris has a wordpress blog too.
Fear not! I have not forgotten about BeerRiot. No new features have come online yet because this week has been rather busy for me.
Tomorrow is no exception. I’ve gathered the ingredients for a honey porter. 🙂 It’s an all-grain recipe, so I’ll be busy most of the day with that.
Sunday, though. Sunday should be BeerRiot Development Day.
As a teaser, here are a few of the things in the pipeline:
- Localization (Btw, does anyone have a good source for world cities and their latitudes and longitudes? I’ve covered the US with data from the USGS, but my best link to world data is over ten times as large.)
- Discussion forums (for things other than talk about specific beers)
I can’t say which will come out first (or even if some of them will come out), but I thought you all would enjoy the teaser.