Continuing Problems of the Web
This is a quick and brief summary of some of the problems I’ve observed on the Web. (I don’t have time to list others…) I don’t know if anyone or any company has even recognized these as problems, nor if any research/work is underway to solve these problems.
- Common Pattern:
- A common Web pattern is:
- Blog or social network posting, followed by comments/discussion
- Problems arise when:
- The comment count exceeds about 20 postings
- Comments are too verbose
- Comments branch into off-topic areas
- Frequently, high-comment-count discussions suffer from:
- Overly verbose responses which no one has the time to read
- Uninformed comment entries because comment authors do not take the time to read the other comments
- Variations on, or repetition of, the same sentiment
- Do not allow traditional comments.
- Instead, allow commentors to do the following:
- Nominate brief sentiment statements on posting topic (less than 10 words). Common examples:
- “That’s cool!”
- “I agree.”
- “Well, have you thought about X?”
- Vote on nominated sentiment statements as being on- or off-topic
- Agree with or disagree with approved sentiments (single click, not words). (Display vote counts next to sentiments.)
- Nominate a brief sentiment as the basis for a disagreement vote on an existing sentiment
- Optional recursion (tree or graph structure)
- Offer nominators of sentiments voted as off-topic the option of creating distinct discussion.
- Group into distinct lists, accessed via single buttons:
- Branched topics
- Sentiments voted as off-topic
- Use semantics to further distill sentiments into three-part structures (RDF-like)
- Use something like a Tree widget in combination with other UI widgets to support more effective user navigation of a discussion and its sentiments, etc.
Incoming Stream Postings Buried
- Many people do not have time to monitor their social network(s) incoming stream feeds frequently.
- As a result, when they do get the time to check in, many interesting posts are pushed down so far in their queue that users never see these postings.
- There are many problems behind this problem, including:
- Stream Posting Prioritization
- Many people post too frequently, and have a low "interesting post" density.
- To the best of my knowledge, no social networking platforms currently have Machine Learning incorporated into their platform which allows users to privately rate/rank their interest level in postings of specific posters and topics/keywords.
- Thus, social networking platforms have no basis on which to group and prioritize incoming streams into a more structured, non-linear feed.
- (Although, they could make an attempt to track how much time users spend reading/viewing various posts.)
- No Topic Trees
- No social networking platform that I am aware of offers users the ability to list the topic areas in which they post, nor the topic areas in which they are interested.
- Multiple Personas
- Sometimes users follow people because, for example, they might be a technical community manager and periodically post on interesting, professional/technical subjects.
- Unfortunately, these people publish personal postings as well under the same user ID, and we start seeing postings about their cats, or restaurant visits.
- It would be helpful if social networking platforms allowed users to define multiple personas so that users could post under a specific persona so that users could follow only the persona(s) of interest.
- This problem area could also be improved via Topic Trees.
- Busy people simply do not have the time to read lengthy postings.
- Sadly, these same people are often the ones who might offer the most insightful comments.
- Posters should take the time to be concise and maximize the clarity of their postings.
- From mobile devices to desktops, many web pages simply waste too much screen real estate (pixels).
- Form and Function
- Often, website or app designers pursue “form” without an associated “functional” benefit.
- Example: Lists of posting summaries with too many lines of text per posting, or wasting too much space on unnecessarily-large “pretty” posting images.
Mobile Smartphone Ergonomics and UX
- A few problems for single-handed usage:
- Placement of UI elements (buttons) either too far (or too close) to a user’s thumb making it uncomfortable or impossible to reach these elements.
- No left/right handedness setting
- In their Settings menus, phone UI frameworks should support a user’s ability to specify that they are left- or right-handed.
- The position of UI screen elements should then adapt based on this information so that all users can comfortably reach these UI elements.
- Lazy image load causes discontinuous scrolling
- When scrolling through posting lists, users expect scrolling to be smooth.
- Lazy loading of graphics/images which are sometimes included in posting “header” summaries in posting lists can cause the scrolling user experience to be “jumpy.”
- Poorly-tuned UX scrolling momentum/velocity can cause problems:
- If too slow (high “coefficient of friction”), then too many fling gestures are required.
- If too fast, (low “coefficient of friction”), then users cannot easily control list navigation.
- Scrolling Directionality Constraints
- Users should be able to smoothly scroll documents, images, and other content in any direction.
- Sadly, in many cases only vertical and horizontal scrolling are allowed, and even then, the horizontal scrolling can be very cumbersome.
- I, for one, have never taken a survey which allowed me to precisely express my sentiments regarding the purpose/subject of the survey. There are two reasons for this:
- Survey authors are unable to assemble the “right” questions.
- There is no support for semantics-based “statements about statement.”
- What is needed is a lightweight semantics-based framework which makes it easy for survey authors to enumerate the “actor” concepts/elements in the query space for which they are seeking user input - ideally, without the author even knowing that semantics are being used under the hood.