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Ron Costello <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Ron Costello <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 11 Apr 2007 15:15:08 -0700
text/plain (109 lines)
I assume that the user has already paid or is a member. That being said i
would not concern myself with a short learning curve but would design
the page to be most functional. a short tutorial will get the visitor past
an issue and if these functions are used often, the user will remember. just
one opinion.

On 4/11/07, Mathijs Panhuijsen <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Hello everyone,
> I'd like to hear your input on a fairly fundamental design choice for
> the user interface to a content management application, which I'm
> helping to design. This application runs in a browser and allows its
> users to edit content in the browser window.
> The GUI must include a large number of controls (over 30, so they
> wouldn't fit the width of the screen) for rich-text formatting, such as
> a bold button, an italic button, a CSS style selector etc. But these
> controls are very often not needed, because the specific implementation
> of the content management application enforces a visualization of the
> content, rather than leaving it to the user. Also, the buttons almost
> always apply to a certain area of the Web page only.
> What we're trying to determine is where to place these controls. We've
> identified the following options:
> Option 1-Place the controls in a toolbar at the top of the viewport area
> of the browser, analogous to normal desktop applications.
> Advantage: The controls are always visible and easy to find.
> Disadvantages:
> -High cost in valuable vertical space: the browser itself already has a
> menu, button bar and possibly custom controls such as Google Toolbar,
> and our GUI adds a menu of its own. It might be possible to show and
> hide these formatting controls as needed, but that is visually
> disruptive.
> -Very often, the controls will be unavailable and/or unnecessary, and
> waste space.
> Option 2-Use tabs to toggle between the main application menu and this
> toolbar, like the Ribbon in Microsoft Office 2007.
> Advantage: This option costs less vertical space and does not display
> controls unnecessarily.
> Disadvantages:
> -The user needs to discover these controls, and perform a click to
> access them.
> -There is still some cost in terms of vertical space.
> Option 3-Place the controls in a grid inside a panel to the side
> (compare floating panels in, say, Adobe Photoshop). The GUI already has
> an accordeon-style side panel, similar to MS Outlook, to display other
> types of information.
> Advantages:
> -On a Web page, horizontal space is 'cheaper' (the left and right sides
> of a Web page are often empty)
> -Controls can be hidden (by the user or the system) when they are not
> needed.
> Disadvantages:
> -This is an unexpected place to find buttons and the like (especially in
> the context of a content editor)
> -Either the user needs to discover these controls, and perform a click
> to access them, or the application needs to show and hide the controls
> as the user selects or deselects an area on the Web page that needs them
> (visually disruptive).
> Note: Early user testing showed this option to be confusing to users,
> especially if they had to open the panel themselves.
> Option 4-Display the controls close to the area that needs them (and
> only when that area is selected). This is similar to Microsoft Office
> 2007, where selecting a piece of text makes formatting buttons appear
> above it.
> Advantages:
> -Controls appear and disappear as needed.
> -Controls are close to the area on which they operate.
> Disadvantages:
> -Showing and hiding these controls is visually disruptive, especially
> considering the number of controls.
> It seems that every option has its advantages and drawbacks, so I was
> hoping to find out if any of these options has your strong preference.
> Thanks a lot for your helpful input,
> Kind regards,
> Mathijs Panhuijsen
> Technical Writer
> Tridion Development Labs B.V.
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