Archive for the ‘Usability’ Category

Update to FAQ and Tutorials

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

Upon request from several community organizations using our community mapping tool, we’ve updated our FAQ and Tutorials sections. We added some new Flash step-by-step tutorials to explain how to create SuperMaps, and answered some questions that we’ve been asked.

If you do not find these helpful, please contact us and let us know how we can help.

New Terminology for Categories: Personal Maps

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

A few weeks ago, I posted about our categories feature and asked for feedback on how to make it more understandable to use.  This led to an interface upgrade which was already in development, which simply made categorizing less cumbersome.

Now based on some of our feedback from that post, we have decided on a terminology change: categories will now be called “personal maps”.  It will still work much the same way, but we want to emphasize the fact that you can use this feature to group markers together and create maps that are subsets of the larger Stickymap.

We expect this change over the next week.  Let us know if you have any questions or feedback.

Categories: Interface Upgrade Planned

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

Categories are a little-known feature in Stickymap. When you log in and click a location, you can select “categorize” to bring you to the categorization screen. From here, you can place locations into different categories which are labeled by text (or “tags” as we call them). After doing some studies, we’ve concluded that the interface for categories is a little bit hard to follow, so we’ve decided to try to simplify it for our users.

It’s important to get people using this because it will improve our site’s search capability and general organization. It also allows users to create their own maps that are subsets of Stickymap.

Right now, users need to mark off a series of check boxes, and fill out some text boxes. If you put a tag in a text box, it won’t be added to the marker unless you click the check box. I believe that’s been tripping up some of our users.

We’re in the final stages of preparing a release for a new interface. Let us know what would get you to use this feature.


Marker Creation Update

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

This week we continue working on marker creation. The new marker creation app is going to be a lot more user friendly than the old. Here I describe a few of the changes we’ll be making. Keep your suggestions coming!

1) We’re going to make good use of the infowindows in Google Maps. These are bubbles that appear above the markers. They will be positioned correctly, so we don’t have to worry about them hiding the view of the actual marker.

2) The interface will include our new and improved icon selector, which will appear on a redesigned, dynamic sidebar and/or in an infowindow.

3) Google Map’s marker dragging feature will allow users place the marker just where they want it. It smooth and must easier to use and understand.

4) The FCK editor – which is the fancy text area used for marker descriptions – will be loaded only when it is needed. This means it will no longer have to be loaded when first going to, which will improve our load times.

Rethinking Marker Creation

Monday, June 25th, 2007

With the new icon selector up, our attention has turned to the marker creation process.  It certainly could be made easier to post markers.  Some options are confusing and slow the user’s momentum.

We’ve been internally discussing possible improvements.  The marker creation box currently appears over the map, and sometimes it obstructs the view of the location of the desired post.  That’s certainly an unnecessary speed bump.

What we have found is that these changes may require a whole reworking of the sidebar.  We’re also looking into an interface where once the marker is created, a “bubble” pops up over the marker where you can input the rest of the information like title, description, photos, and tags.  I invite the readers of this blog to share their thoughts on how marker creation should work.


New Icon Selector

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

Today, we released the new icon selector on Instead of having to look through the tree structure, there’s a single general search to find the icon you are looking for. Hopefully, this framework will m ake it easier for you to find the icon that you want.

The new selector appears in four places: the sifter, marker creation, changing marker “settings”, and editing a marker’s description. Changing the icon can be done through either the marker’s settings or through changing it’s description. This is because we used to have it all done on one page (the change description page). There should probably be a single, easy to access place to change the icon of a marker.

If you are a user, let us know what you think of the new icon controller. Do you find it easier to use? How do you think we can improve it? Shortly, we’re going to take a look at marker creation, and try to make that easier to use. The new icon selector is just one step in this initiative.


Choosing Your Icons

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

There are over 150 different icon images to choose from in Stickymap. When users create a marker, or use the sifter, they are asked to choose one specific icon. In order to find the icon that they are looking for, the users have to struggle through categories and sub-categories in order to find the one they want. This is a tedious process, and even when a user has a particular icon in mind, it’s not always clear which category to look under.

That’s why we’re working on a new way to search icons – the 21st century way. No longer will users have to click and unclick categories, unsure of what they’ll find. The new icon selector will be simple: users will just type in what they’re looking for in a search box, and the relevent choices will pop up. Users can use their own logic; they won’t be confined to ours.

This hasn’t been easy to implement, but so far it’s going more smoothly than expected. If you are a stickymap user, how can we make selecting an icon even easier for you? Let us know – and look out for this new interface feature in the near future.


Laying out a complicated homepage

Monday, June 11th, 2007

We just started working with a graphics designer to create our new home page. So far, we’ve had some useful discussion and results. Over the next few weeks, we plan to continue to refine the look and feel of the homepage so that it is easier for our users to interact with the software. We have always found it challenging to present our technology in an “easy to use” interface; it’s complicated and requires the user to make educated decisions. We do not want to create a homepage that is overwhelming. So, we’ve been testing out a few concepts with test subjects and we’re training a quality assurance intern to help us perfect our new homepage.
Please let us know if you would like to help us complete our project. We would especially be interested in graphic designers who would be interested in volunteering a few hours to offer advice and direction.