Some feedback: WordPress reader on desktop

Navigation in reader

  • There are no visible cues hinting at ability to navigate from one expanded post to the next (or previous).
  • Navigating back to the post list (using back button), and then to next post makes it slow, and click heavy.
  • Keyboard shortcuts work, but there are again no visible cues indicating even their presence.

Keyboard shortcuts

  • No visible hints that any keyboard shortcuts exist
    • Keyboard shortcut discoverability is solely by trial and error, or ‘Google’
    • Traditionally, pressing ‘?’ (in, say, GMail or Pocket) brings up relevant shortcuts modal. Doesn’t work in reader.
    • One suggested hint could be to place a keyboard icon next to the help (?) icon, at the bottom, in the left navigation bar.
  • Navigation shortcuts
    • j/k navigate to next/previous post as expected. However, the more ‘lay’ user-friendly left-arrow/right-arrow versions don’t.
    • esc key works the same as browser’s back button – navigating back through history stack (i.e. going back to last viewed post).
      • A better (expected) implementation would be to jump out of expanded-post view to the posts list view, ideally scrolled to the last viewed post.
  • Like keyboard shortcut, l, works as expected. Adding f as an additional activator would be useful – a lot of platforms use favourite as an alternative to like, and some users may be more behaviourally trained to press f instead of l

Facebook Android app – a UX minefield

I’m sorry. This is yet another post1 on more UX/UI mess that keeps bothering me.

Starting with something I recently started using after 8+ years – Facebook. FB earned a reprieve from the tech press after its change of heart on native smartphone apps. But their Android app is still way below par for what is the primary user interface for vast proportion of their users.

Here are 2 bits that bugged me right away…

FB Issue #1 – In-post touch areas

Touch Targets - Facebook Mobile
Touch Targets – Facebook Mobile

Facebook states that stories/posts that are posted natively get shared more widely to the followers, compared to those posted as links. Yet, the mobile interface makes it practically impossible to click-through to read those very natively-posted long posts.
Continue reading Facebook Android app – a UX minefield

App Splash Screens – The Good, the bad and the ugly

I’m not a fan of app splash screens. They delay app usage without presenting any useful, or even pleasant, information or interface. To me, they imply either:

  • badly thought out app design requiring loading loads of data before the UI can even be shown, or
  • a pathetic branding attempt that spoils UX by unnecessarily delaying app access

Here’s some thoughts on how to (not) do splash screens in apps:

The Ugly

My pet favourite object of splash screen hatred is the MyFitnessPal app. It has not one, but 2-step splash screen. The first one shows a progress bar, which I assume shows the status of data stored locally on my device.

Myfitnesspal - Splash screen stage 1
MyFitnessPal – Splash screen stage 1

This is followed by another phase of splash screen madness under the Synchronising data title with a rotating symbol this time (so no indication of progress).

Myfitnesspal - Splash screen stage 2!
Myfitnesspal – Splash screen stage 2!

Only after the local data has been ‘loaded‘, and synchronised with the servers, is the user allowed to see the app UI. And despite this, the headline daily dairy numbers they show on landing screen is wrong most of the time. Specially if another app (Garmin Connect for me) has synced exercise calories with MyFitnessPal.

This feels so wrong. Why can’t they just show me the default landing page UI right away, letting me do what I do on most app uses – log food consumption – as quickly as possible. The changes can all be synced in the background.

The multiplicity of logos on the splash screen, as well as several other UI decisions in the app seem to convey that MyFitnessPal has a weak UI/X team being overridden frequently by a politically strong marketing/content team.

Continue reading App Splash Screens – The Good, the bad and the ugly

Article reading time in Pocket’s smartphone apps

Accele-reader - Power up your Pocket experience

I’m a heavy Pocket user, and a big fan of the service and their apps. However, lately I’d been feeling that Pocket had become more a never-again-opened archive of ‘articles I found interesting’ rather than ‘articles to read later’. My Pocket was bulging with loads of articles from years past by, many outdated, others irrelevant, a few real gems hidden under the tons of hay. It was time to act to save my beloved Pocket1.

After a bit of further study, and borrowing from the maxim – you improve what you measure – I decided that I needed two extra features:

  • Count of unread articles in my Pocket, and
  • Estimated reading time for each article.

Not finding anything on Chrome Webstore, or Android Play Store, that covered both these points in a single app, I decided to get my own hands dirty.

Last December I started work on Accele-reader for Chrome (formerly Pocket Plus). The target was to add to Pocket the few features that I’d been wanting for a long time (but were too trivial/off-focus for the product team at Pocket to develop):

  • Unread article count,
  • Estimated reading time for articles,
  • Trello-like article ageing,
  • Offline add-to-Pocket, and
  • Read a random article (from my then \*huge\* Pocket list)

Accele-reader was, for my own use, a big success. Article counts, offline adds, and random articles were a bonus, but colour-coded reading time estimates were a big, big win!

However, with the good came the bad – the reading time feature was so good, that I desperately started missing it on the phone app2. A number of users also wrote in asking if I could somehow provide the article reading times on the mobile apps as well. I wasn’t alone.

Last week, another user – Konstantin – wrote in with the suggestion of a clever work-around. And here it is – reading time estimates for articles, now in your Pocket phone and tablet apps!

Continue reading Article reading time in Pocket’s smartphone apps