Over a million developers have joined DZone.
Platinum Partner

Noodlin, the Brainstorming App - Humans are difficult

· Agile Zone

The Agile Zone is brought to you in partnership with JetBrains.  Discover how to increase change awareness, code quality, and maintainability through straightforward code reviews, with a simple, lightweight workflow.

My web app, Noodlin, has two basic functions: 1) create notes and 2) connect them, so I tried to make it blindingly obvious how to do both in the UI. Unfortunately, when I first started telling people about it, the first feedback I got was, “how do you create a connection?”



The original scheme: you clicked on the dark border to start a connection.

At that point, the way you created a connection was to click on the border of a note (a dark border would appear around a note when the mouse got close). Okay, so that wasn’t obvious enough, even though the tutorial said, “click on my border to create a connection.” I learned a lesson there: no one reads tutorials. However, I didn’t know what users did expect.

I started trying things: I darkened the color of the border, I had little connections pop out of the edge and follow your mouse as you moved it near a note. I heard from one user that she had tried dragging from one note to another, so I made that work, too. But people were still confused.

The next major revision: click on a square to start a connection.

I turned to UX Stack Exchange and people pointed me to several other graphing tools, which generally had little boxes on the border you could start connections with. I changed the “click anywhere on the border” to “click on a box on the border.”

Users continued to ask, “how do I make connections?”

At this point, I was tempted to give up. Luckily, a user tipped me off that he thought the little boxes were resize handles and suggested circles, instead. I tried that and it was a huge improvement. Finally, I decided that no one was going to read my damn tutorial, so I’d animate how you make a connection and play it on an endless loop. Try to ignore that, movement-tracking humans!

And it worked.

I have gotten exactly 0 inquiries about how to make connections since I posted on my blog about it (which yielded about 50x the amount of traffic I was averaging before). Phew.

The current scheme, which seems to be working.

And if you want to try it out for yourself, check out Noodlin!

If you liked this, you might enjoy:

The Agile Zone is brought to you in partnership with JetBrains.  Learn more about the wide range of developer-oriented features to take your team's performance to the next level.  

Topics:

Published at DZone with permission of Kristina Chodorow , DZone MVB .

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

{{ parent.title || parent.header.title}}

{{ parent.tldr }}

{{ parent.urlSource.name }}