Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Usability is a tough nut

Team wis.dm is always listening to feedback from our members.  And the feedback comes in at all different levels.  Veteran users, new registrants, site visitors; internet power-users, and people using their first web-connected computers!

Providing the best usability for all these groups is a real challenge, and it's ongoing.  In efforts to strike the right balance, you probably saw some changes on wis.dm today.

Start a Discussion - We've consolidated the location for posting your own content.  You can now ask questions using the "start a discussion" button permanently under your login information.  Easy, always available, and clear for all the new users who want to know how to get involved!

Comment System - a big overhaul to the comment system also went live today.  By implementing true threaded comment behavior, we've cut down on the noise factor from people quoting each-other's comments, and allowed you to better keep track of discussion within a post.

Formatted Content - finally, in the comment system as well as around wis.dm in general, you'll see a new way to format rich content (bold, italics, links, etc.)  We've picked an industry standard for forums, BBCode, as our formatting language.  For some users who have been using HTML to format, this will be a change.  We went this direction for two reasons. 1) Basic formatting just works better.  A number of hacks necessary to cleanly format non-HTML content were removed, so users just looking to leave their simple thoughts will have more reliable results. 2) We want to protect our site and you all from malicious content that can be put in the page to reformat it, spam, or spread viruses.  The best way to do this (and the way that almost every other forum/comments system out there works) is to keep control over the types of formatting allowed.  We hope that it meets almost everyone's needs for self-expression, and that it helps keep an atmosphere of sanity to the great wis.dm discussion threads!

Usability is a tough nut to crack.  So as always, send your thoughts to feedback@wis.dm.  What's better, what's worse, how would you solve these problems best for all the diverse members of the community?

Keep wis.dming!