Re: Musings on the contacts user experience


Some very brief thoughts.

On Fri, Apr 29, 2011 at 10:13 AM, Alexander Larsson <alexl redhat com> wrote:
> On Fri, 2011-04-29 at 13:19 +0100, Allan Day wrote:
>> In general, then, my current position is that, despite it not being the
>> primary way in which people will access messaging, we do still need a
>> dedicated contacts app. I am open to being convinced that an integrated
>> IM/contacts app would work, but I would want to see the 3 issues I've
>> identified above resolved.
> Yeah, this, and the fact that Gnome 3.0, with gnome-shell and the
> non-spatial nautilus is very much going in the app-centric direction
> convinces me that you are right. That means we should probably not have
> the people tab, which is a good thing too as i kinda agree with matthias
> fear of piling all sorts of cruft into overview tabs. Also, we should
> probably not allow contacts on the dash.

Another thing is that using Overview views for information types that
are nearly unbounded like "people" is really difficult.  Browsing
isn't really a good interface for things like this.  More on this

>> Until I'm convinced otherwise, this is my vision for how the different
>> GUI parts of our contacts framework, then:
>>  * An add contacts dialog that can be used by different applications.
>> This would, for instance, provide a graphical means to easily add recent
>> or favourite contacts to an email. This GUI would probably be similar to
>> the contacts app, and would probably share the same code base.
>>  * A dedicated contacts app for when you need it.
>>  * Contacts search (but no contacts tab) in the shell overview, which
>> will provide a quick way to initiate conversations.
>>  * In the future - a conversation focused IM app, and possibly even a
>> conversation focused email app
> Yes, I like this. The conversation focused IM app is especially nice, as
> it makes the difference between the contacts app and the chat app much
> more obvious.
> It also means that some of the concept design on the contacts app needs
> a bit of rethinking, as they focus quite a bit on initiating IM
> communication (via shortcuts on the main window, etc).
> Additionally I'd like to have an easy-to-integrate widget that lets apps
> pop up contact information on hover/click on any "address" shown in the
> ui (like all visible email addresses in evo). That would show contact
> info, current im status, last tweet, etc.

I agree we need both a people app (Contacts) and a messages app (Chat).

There are key differences between people and messages:

1. People
  * Frequency and recency are basically meaningless (recent what?)
  * Browsing based interfaces aren't practical without heavy use of
pages, indexes, tags, groups, etc
  * Search (or search assisted direct entry) is the primary mode of access

2. Messages
  * Recency is most important because it indicates currency
  * Frequency (with windowing) is important because it indicates
durable relationships
  * Browsing history is relevant for finding and reminding
  * Resuming from a history is the primary mode of access

Those are the big differences I think.  There are lots of other more
subtle distinctions of course.  For example, in how starring, or
bookmarking works.  Different enough to deserve treatment in separate

So, my quick recommendations:

1. Contacts
  * A new application exclusive to and designed for GNOME
  * Searchable through the OS overview
     - Activating search results opens contact in Contacts app
  * App is primarily search based as well
  * Browsing is assisted through index paging
  * Primary way to initiate new conversations regardless of method
  * Should seamlessly integrate contacts from various Online Account providers

2. Chat
  * We initiate a new design exclusive to and designed for GNOME
  * Serves as the app backing the integrated GNOME chat functionality
  * Message based - a historical log of "conversations"
  * This serves as a record of what chats were performed / missed

> My main fears in a setup like this is:
> * Conceptually a "chat" app needs to be running all the time when you're
> online (as you might get a message), but generally you don't want to see
> it all the time. With us not having a "good" solution to minimize, and
> not liking minimize-to-systray-icon we don't have a good way to
> represent this "running in background" state. The one way to fit this
> into the shell design is to just put the IM window on some other
> desktop, but I think that might still be a bit too visible.

The chat app doesn't have to be running, really.  The OS shell itself
will happily receive that new message for you.  The issue is really
more about sign in and sign out.

> * I fear as we add more kinds of hits into the overview search it will
> eventually become useless (giving too many hits). We need to be consious
> about this and limit the number for items we search. For instance, if we
> search in all files on your system its likely that almost all words you
> type matches a bunch of files, making the typeahead to launch an app
> feature less useful.

Files search is quite a different thing.  Searching for people is
still something where I can expect to do "owen<return>" without
looking and get a contacts list for Owen.  Files search can't really
ever work that way.


[Date Prev][Date Next]   [Thread Prev][Thread Next]   [Thread Index] [Date Index] [Author Index]