Suggested UI improvements/additions

I just had to spend quite a bit of time with a friend who’s newish to Newsblur to get this figured out. The UI is definitely not friendly to new users (and this particular friend is very much a power-user of computer-y things).

[I had originally given this a more descriptive title, but it turns out there are a lot of suggestions, and I’m not sure if you prefer one post per issue or not (a la most traditional bug reporting systems). I will summarize all issues at the end for tl;dr-ness]

My friend has the story titles/river pane turned off, and was trying to see all of my shared items to go back and find a post with comments so that he could keep commenting. Since the river was turned off, he did not have access to the quick-filter adjusting dropdown that comes with that. (#1) This handy feed filter previously lived in the dropdown menu for the feed in the feed list, and should probably revert there if the river is hidden.

He had focus set to ALL, thinking that since that shows all feeds, it’d also show all stories. This is, again, another reason why having (#2) EVERY clickable thing have a tooltip would be insanely helpful for people. As a poweruser myself, it’s sort of deeply unsettling to see virtually no tooltips in the UI, despite them being a very easy thing to add and a very helpful thing for users. In this case, the ALL could say “All feeds”, whereas the unread and focus options deal with both feeds AND posts (somewhat confusingly).

While we’re at it, the (#3) feed drop down (mark as read, move, delete, etc) is still reversing based on its position in the list: ABC when the feed is at the top; CBA when the feed is at the bottom. You’d fixed this a while back to keep the same order regardless, and it got reverted. This also happens on the post menu, and is equally annoying there.

I’ve mentioned this before and still think it would do a LOT to make Newsblur awesome… Greader used to have a (#4) Comments feed - basically any post you our your friends shared that had comments would show up in it and would bubble up to the top posts with new comments since the last time you checked them. This allowed us to keep track of (and potentially join in on) conversations that we did not know were happening. It was really the core of the greatest social network that Google ever [accidentally] created and would be very nice to have back.

Similarly, (#5) clicking on an activity in the monitor when you haven’t yet set your friends blurblogs to show ALL posts by default does basically nothing. I know that you made a user’s own blurblog show ALL due to this very thing, but there is still no solution for activity on friends shares. It should ideally show the post in question regardless of the setting on the blurblog.


(#1) Feed filter previously lived in the dropdown menu for the feed in the feed list, and should revert there if the river is hidden.
(#2) EVERY clickable thing should have a tooltip (I don’t care how non-destructive the action is - tooltips are how people learn and get less confused at a confusing UI)
(#3) Feed and Post menus should always display in the same order.
(#4) Add a comments feed with any of my/my friends posts with new comments.
(#5) clicking on an activity in the monitor when your friends blurblogs show only UNREAD posts should show the post in question regardless of the setting on the blurblog.


#1: Just shipped a fix for your top issue. The new Full view has the feed title bar at the top. That should also make a very common use case much easier to get to without having to use a weird setting in Preferences.

#2: Yep, this has been a common confusion. I’m thinking about adding more tooltips. There already are some, but I found them very distracting, although you can turn them off quite easily.

#3: I turned it back to reversing. I liked the reversing technique far too much. You now think of a command as how far it is from your cursor, not where it is in relation to the menu.

#4: The comments feed is a simple a matter of time. I have an interactions feed I’m planning to build, and this will either *be* the comments feed, or some combination. But it wouldn’t have an unread count, so you’d be clicking on it in a random reinforcement way until you see something move to the top. Yuck.

#5: This is why I’m building an interactions feed.

Thanks for the great feedback! Keep it coming, Karen!

Hooray for all the other things!

For #3 - I understand your reasoning for doing this, and I think it’s a nice thought, however it places undue brain strain on the user. Rather than knowing that it is always first, second, third whatever in the list, users must parse through the list *each* time to find the exact entry they want. “How far it is from your cursor” sort of works, but only if you use NB on the same computer all the time. If you use different screen sizes, your distance will be different, so even that requires extra brain power.

Good UIs shouldn’t make people think [much], and constantly switching the order of a menu *definitely* requires thought before action :slight_smile:

I don’t recall ever seeing another UI do this, and if I have, I probably switched to something else immediately because it would have irritated me.


Oh, and for tooltips - why not use the OS’s/browser’s default style for that? They’ll stand out less/be less annoying (black backgrounds don’t really go with the new color scheme) since the eye will stop being drawn to that New! Black! Popup! that just appeared.

Annnd a few more tooltip things. In List and Split view, the tooltip for the Full button says Split (when the UI is narrow and the labels aren’t showing). In Full view, the Split button doesn’t have text or a tooltip when the UI is wide enough for everything else to have their labels showing.

Fixed the tooltips on the views.