Relevant activities happen all over the place. Users involved in different work areas end up jumping from place to place relying only on the notification panel.
Providing more control to users on updates in the participation processes (and possibly about content) can make participation more effective. Some of the initial thoughts on this area have been captured in T100858: Flow: Personal feed v1 (design).
We still need to collect more details on the behaviour when participating on collaboration activities. Some scenarios have been defined based on our current knowledge:
- Checking what's new. A user that subscribed to several boards and individual topics (about articles but also user boards) wants to check what is new since the last visit. During the process, the user:
- Identifies urgent topics to reply immediately or for later.
- Focuses on an area of interest and filters further the board to look for a specific item (e.g., a conversation about "Easter Island" the user replied three days ago to add a link she just found).
- Checks the context for the whole conversation. Although the most recent piece of conversation is enough to recall the context, sometimes it is needed to view more of it.
- Control the information volume. The user gets updated on new topics when subscribed. In some cases the user may want to follow the updates to the new conversations, in other cases the user may no longer be interested on new topic updates.
- Pending replies. The user has participated in conversations on other users boards. The user is waiting to get a reply from some of them.
- Sharing my interests. Users share some of the areas users are working on (currently adding them manually or as userboxes to their user page) so that other users can collaborate with them when their paths are crossing.
- Beyond conversation. In addition to flow discussions about articles and user pages, users track content updates and other kinds of notifications (e.g., being thanked).
Audience. Users participating on any kind of collaboration: from advanced admins that need to track lots of discussions to casual editors focusing on their topics of interest.
- Design goals
- Clear. Presenting all updates the user is interested in represents a big amount of information. It is important to present the information in a clear way so that the user can understand what is going on.
- Efficient. Users are expected to repeatedly use this to organise their work. It is important to help users to make their work faster. It needs to fit on the way users expect information and help them to go through it quickly.
- Familiar. Relying on already familiar models will set expectations and facilitate the use. For example, representing conversations excerpts in a similar way as they are represented on a flow board, with similar actions (e.g., search, filter, reply, etc.).
Success metrics. We expect to see the following impact:
- More participation. By making it easy for users to keep updated and finding the most relevant activities, we expect users to be more regularly checking what is going on and participating on more discussions.
- Less broken collaborations. Posts without a single reply, or heavily unread notifications are signs of broken collaboration that are expected to go down once going through the relevant content becomes easier.
- Extended board. Presenting the information as a board with some additional functions (e.g., quick filters) provides familiarity while allowing to add new functionality on top of it.
- Working mode When discussing the above scenarios, some familiar models have been used as examples such as email inboxes, to-do lists, RSS readers. We may want to explore different directions (e.g., mark as read vs. surfacing for later vs. custom tags) to verify which approach fits better with the working dynamics of our users.
I have been exploring some ideas in this prototype.
I'm experimenting with a model for read/unread where items become read automatically initially, but the users can mark specific items as unread.
- On regular use, users just keep reading without having to act on every single item.
- Advanced users that want to use the different pieces of information as action items have the opportunity to highlight actionable items.
- Information is not hidden by default. At the bottom of the left column you have filters to view only new items which will hide the read ones, and we can provide a keyboard shortcut to move to the next unread item (and to change status or read/unread). This will avoid issues on what is shown and what is not.
- Although new items become read as the user views them, those are still distinguishable from the ones the user read in past sessions to avoid losing track of items becoming read without the user noticing.
- At the moment I'm more interested on the model (e.g., compared to an explicit to-do list where you have to act on each item). I'm less concerned about the visual elements to communicate the status (although feedback on that is also useful)
The prototype also includes the ideas of showing conversations from different namespaces and how to filter them as well as making the chronology more prominent and the board each topic belongs to less prominent.