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This forum is locked: you cannot post, reply to, or edit topics.   This topic is locked: you cannot edit posts or make replies. Posted in: Widget Design
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The little "i"

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pourhadi
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Joined: 23 Jan 2005
Posts: 12

Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 - 1:40 am    Post subject: The little "i" Reply with quote

I'm noticing a lot of widgets nowadays that are throwing away the standard of sticking the little "i" in the bottom-right corner; instead, they're putting them in the top right, top left, or even somewhere near the middle. It's driving me nuts.

I haven't really looked at widget development guidelines, but doesn't it insist that you place it in the bottom-right corner?

I'm sure it gets really confusing for users when that info button isn't where they expect it to be, and they have to go hunting for it. Are you guys noticing this, too? Do you follow UI guidelines? If not, why?

Here's a plea from a run-of-the-mill widget user: Please keep the little "i" button where it should be, in the bottom-right corner. Don't make it difficult for us.

Thank you Smile
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Ludge



Joined: 09 May 2005
Posts: 98
Location: UK

Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 - 2:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

But in many widgets (including a couple of Apple-made ones) the i button is in the lower left because the lower right is occupied by a resize control. If you have a resize tab, putting the i next to it looks really silly.
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Chris



Joined: 27 Jan 2005
Posts: 344
Location: Durham, UK

Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 - 4:24 am    Post subject: Re: The little "i" Reply with quote

pourhadi wrote:
I'm noticing a lot of widgets nowadays that are throwing away the standard of sticking the little "i" in the bottom-right corner; instead, they're putting them in the top right, top left, or even somewhere near the middle. It's driving me nuts.

I haven't really looked at widget development guidelines, but doesn't it insist that you place it in the bottom-right corner?


Not insist, no:

"Place the info button in the bottom-right corner of your widget whenever possible. Itís OK to place it in other corners, but the bottom-right corner is where most users expect to find this button."


pourhadi wrote:

I'm sure it gets really confusing for users when that info button isn't where they expect it to be, and they have to go hunting for it.


Well, it's really a rather small area for most widgets, no? Not quite 'hunt' Razz

pourhadi wrote:

Do you follow UI guidelines? If not, why?


They are following them, in this instance.

pourhadi wrote:

Here's a plea from a run-of-the-mill widget user: Please keep the little "i" button where it should be, in the bottom-right corner. Don't make it difficult for us.


As Ludge (and Apple) pointed out, it goes where it needs to go. In fact, the weirdest one is Apple's Flight Tracker, where the 'i' is at the top right for no apparent reason...
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BagOfHammers



Joined: 03 Jul 2005
Posts: 167
Location: under the lucky hippo tree

Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 - 4:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just looked at all my widgets, and the ones that have the "i" do indeed place them all over...

top left, top right, bottom left, and bottom right.

For the ones that are normally minimized, placing them at the top may have been easier? I don't know.

This brought me to an interesting thought though. That "i" is awfully small. And at least in all of mine, the i is normally hidden. When you hover over the widget, the "i" appears. As long as the contrast is great, it is likely that the user finds it, so finding it itself is not a big problem, although the size is not very friendly to older or less experienced users.

The conformity here, I think, is important. This is another way for widgets to improve their functionality within the Dashboard environment by making commonplace functions uniform. So rather than even what Chris said - "Place the info button in the bottom-right corner of your widget whenever possible. Itís OK to place it in other corners, but the bottom-right corner is where most users expect to find this button," - I would prefer something like :

The little "i" MUST be placed at the bottom-right, with the only exception of when some other interactive element (such as resize thing) is placed there - in such a case, resort to placing the "i" in the bottom left corner.

If, and that's an unlikely if, there is something reasonable in both bottom corners, the "i" should be placed along the bottom (maybe centered, maybe towards the right), never near the top, to maintain proximity to where it SHOULD be and still look somewhat ok.

Some widgets, such as the NYTimes widget, seems to have the "i" near the top (this example, top right) just because the design for the widget failed to leave space for the itty bitty "i" at the bottom right. Personally, I'd rather see it squeezed in than placed in an odd spot. Of course, if at all possible, the widget developers should begin with the end in mind, at least when considering certain demands for the design. Failing to provide space for the "i" and then putting it somewhere odd is, as far as I'm concerned, an example of poor planning. As a result, it will look like a poorly planned design.

Form follows function. Don't just throw stuff in, please!
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Chris



Joined: 27 Jan 2005
Posts: 344
Location: Durham, UK

Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 - 5:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BagOfHammers wrote:
Some widgets, such as the NYTimes widget, seems to have the "i" near the top (this example, top right) just because the design for the widget failed to leave space for the itty bitty "i" at the bottom right. Personally, I'd rather see it squeezed in than placed in an odd spot. Of course, if at all possible, the widget developers should begin with the end in mind, at least when considering certain demands for the design. Failing to provide space for the "i" and then putting it somewhere odd is, as far as I'm concerned, an example of poor planning. As a result, it will look like a poorly planned design.

Form follows function. Don't just throw stuff in, please!


Well, I wrote that widget, and it wasn't poorly planned. I quite resent that, to be honest. Putting it 'somewhere odd' would have been slapping it in the middle, or randomly up the side. The 'i' is black on white, hardly difficult to see. We could've squeezed it in at the bottom, but why bother? When we went through the design, not one of us seen a problem with the 'i' being at the top - to be at the bottom we'd have just had a massive space under all the buttons. In another thread, you yourself were bemoaning wasted space by widget developers Smile

I take it you've never worked with artists - their designs are precious to them and it has to be 'just so', even if it brings a problem to some users (bleeding artists, eh? Razz). Saying that, Hot off the Press isn't exactly the best example of Louie's work, but...
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galendw



Joined: 30 May 2005
Posts: 71
Location: Here.

Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 - 8:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ludge wrote:
But in many widgets (including a couple of Apple-made ones) the i button is in the lower left because the lower right is occupied by a resize control. If you have a resize tab, putting the i next to it looks really silly.


I agree. If you have a resize, the lower right is hardly the best place to put the 'i' button.

BagOfHammers wrote:
The little "i" MUST be placed at the bottom-right, with the only exception of when some other interactive element (such as resize thing) is placed there - in such a case, resort to placing the "i" in the bottom left corner.


There can be reasons other than a resize 'thing' to not put the 'i' in the bottom-right. For example, with the iTunes controller, would you really have wanted Apple to squeeze the 'i' into the bottom-right? It would have made it look kinda weird.

And according to Apple, the 'i' button (they call it the 'info' button) doesn't technically have to go in the bottom-right:

Quote:
Place the info button in the bottom-right corner of your widget whenever possible. Itís OK to place it in other corners, but the bottom-right corner is where most users expect to find this button.
- ADC's Widget Backside Design Guidlines


So yes, the 'i' button is best in the bottom-right, but if there's a reason not to put it there, it doesn't have to.
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pourhadi
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Joined: 23 Jan 2005
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Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 - 9:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

See, recently I've been going through each widget that's been updated to Approve it before it gets posted in the Showcase. That means I have to examine each one, and it does indeed get frustrating when the "i" is not where I expect it to be, especially when it's hidden or I have to search for it by moving my cursor around the widget.

Widgets already destroy whatever UI guidelines we're used to with OS X (no clicky-arrows on the scroll wheels?! gah!)...the least typical users can ask for is some sort of convention when looking for that blasted "i".

It seems a lot of developers are assuming it's easy to find their little "i's"; after all, they can find it just fine! Never mind the fact that they designed it and placed it there, and to them it's completely obvious that it's there in the first place...

But remember, you're dealing with typical users who aren't going to say, "OK, there's a resize dragger there, so it should be in the top-right!" They're going to think, "Hmm, no 'i' in the bottom-right...maybe there are no options."

I don't design widgets; and if you're designing widgets for me, the typical user, then perhaps you're going to have to trust me on this one... Wink
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galendw



Joined: 30 May 2005
Posts: 71
Location: Here.

Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 - 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally, I've always wondered why Apple decided top put the 'i' button in the bottom right in the first place. Isn't that where the resize thing goes?

Look at it from a developer standpoint: If your widget is resizable, where are you supposed to put the 'i'?

Apple should have set the standard for the 'i' button in the bottom left, where it wouldn't get in the way of anything, and where there is almost no excuse not to put it there.
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Da_Vinci



Joined: 26 Apr 2005
Posts: 100

Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 - 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

galendw wrote:
Personally, I've always wondered why Apple decided top put the 'i' button in the bottom right in the first place. Isn't that where the resize thing goes?

Look at it from a developer standpoint: If your widget is resizable, where are you supposed to put the 'i'?

Apple should have set the standard for the 'i' button in the bottom left, where it wouldn't get in the way of anything, and where there is almost no excuse not to put it there.


How glad I am to see that even Apple makes mistakes! Very Happy
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GrannySmith



Joined: 05 May 2005
Posts: 21
Location: Belgium

Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 - 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've never had trouble with finding the "i" button... on most 'good' widgets is it very clear where you can find it.

on most of the widgets that I coded (on my own and for friend's) I use the bottom right corner... the only time I did not was with the Calvin and Hobbes widget (and the Garfield widget because it is based on the same core).
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BagOfHammers



Joined: 03 Jul 2005
Posts: 167
Location: under the lucky hippo tree

Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 - 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WARNING: This post is very long, and I've directed it mostly for Chris. I didn't want to send a private message only because this does still reflect thoughts on widgets in general and also because such a private message was not solicited.

I hate to back-track, but I feel it is necessary. I also hate to be very harsh, but I can't stand this sort of thing:

Chris wrote:
Well, I wrote that widget, and it wasn't poorly planned. I quite resent that, to be honest. Putting it 'somewhere odd' would have been slapping it in the middle, or randomly up the side. The 'i' is black on white, hardly difficult to see. We could've squeezed it in at the bottom, but why bother? When we went through the design, not one of us seen a problem with the 'i' being at the top - to be at the bottom we'd have just had a massive space under all the buttons. In another thread, you yourself were bemoaning wasted space by widget developers Smile

I take it you've never worked with artists - their designs are precious to them and it has to be 'just so', even if it brings a problem to some users (bleeding artists, eh? Razz). Saying that, Hot off the Press isn't exactly the best example of Louie's work, but...


So, what do I hate about that?

1) It is IRRATIONAL: For starters, you've started with the "No it wasn't" poorly planned attitude, which is certainly fine IF it is justified. Otherwise, you're just rejecting a user's sincere opinion out of denial. In either case, a developer should never "resent" a sincere comment by a user. I did not make an unfair claim, and it should be of interest to the developer that the widget made me feel this way. I'm not here to ding widgets, but I'm going to be critical. It helps to seriously listen to criticism.

Irrational points:
"Putting it 'somewhere odd' would have been slapping it in the middle, or randomly up the side." -> No, putting it somewhere odd is an accurate description because it is placed where users are not used to seeing and using it. It would be natural for a user to find it odd. "Hey, this is the only widget I have with the "i" in the top right!" could be a common reaction. Slapping it in the middle or in a (more random) place deserves the label "STUPID", not "odd." <(lol<) I'm one user, and I'm saying it is odd, whether you can see it or not, so the contrast being ok is unrelated. You already have tons of space at the bottom (I'll elaborate later). <(groan<)

You see, "poorly planned" is not in itself a terrible charge by any means. A widget could easily be poorly planned but improve along the way, whether it be in updates or in original development. Yes, it is negative, but I fail to grasp why in the world one would not try to improve upon such negative points rather than go into denial. I can say that without any problem because if the "i" was orignially planned to go into the bottom-right, it obviously didn't work out, and if it didn't work out, something un-forseen must've come up. This qualifies as poor planning because whatever came up should have been taken into account. If it wasn't originally planned to go there AND there were no plans to place an essential, interactive element (such as resize) in that corner, then it is reasonable to say that from the perspective that the established placement of the "i" makes it easier on users, the placement of the "i" was poorly planned, because the plan itself is ignorant. From what you have said, it sounds like the former applies, because the choice was made to place the 'i' in the top right having made the buttons (and the surrounding dark grey box that poses the actual conflict) were already along in development. IF there were plans for an interactive element to occupy the space in the bottom right, such plans must have fizzled because the only thing in the way of the "i" is the dark grey box that is there for providing an appropriate feel for the buttons, but is not interactive in itself.

2) The second reason this gets me irked is that you relates the situation to a valid artistic decision of "it has to be just so". Don't get me wrong! I don't deny that widget development can be an artistic process. But, art, by my definition, involves a (passionate, for lack of a better word) expression of some sort. Say, some woman paints dots on herself and calls it art (there is such an artist, by the way). It is art if it is done with passion and serious consideration of expression, as the actual artist in my example did. It isn't if such consideration was lacking, as in, not just anybody can paint spots and call it art - such lack of consideration will likely fail to communicate and express on the level of the real thing.

Now, by your statement, the placement of the "i" didn't have to be "just so", because it was a decision made to AVOID changing or overlapping the box surrounding the buttons and also to avoid making the widget any bigger than it already is. That only makes it not a "just so" decision. What makes it a non-artistic decision is that the consideration when actually putting the "i" in the top right asks the question "is this a problematic way" rather than "is this the best way, the most appropriate way." (Chris: "Not one of us [saw] a problem with the 'i' being at the top," "...black and white, hardly difficult to see...".) You're telling me as the developer that there are no problems with the placement because it is easy to find and, most notably, the developers did not recognize any problem with it! Hmm. Ok, but what about what the USERS think? Neither of those are artistic considerations, and there seems to have been very little artistic consideration (for the isolated case of the "i") from looking at the result: the "i" is closer to the right border than the top; it is simply not aligned. It looks slapped on, in my opinion. If that wasn't what you intended to show, Chris or Mr Louie Mantia, you'd get better results changing the widget than trying to tell me what you meant. That's like a visual artist illustrating something and then having to describe, in words, what he drew. That means the work itself lacks in expression.

My conclusion is that the decision-making behind the "i" placement was primarily or entirely one of convenience to the developers and not one of convenience for the users or an artistic expression. Tell me if my logic is flawed. Thus, I can understand Mr Mantia being proud of the work in general, but I cannot consider that he should be proud in an artistic sense of the awkward placement of the "i".

3) Chris, you've flat-out insulted me. "I take it you've never worked with artists", you say. This is an impossible leap in logic because I never once implied that the design was not precious to the developer. Furthermore, I am an artist, though primarily not visual, but I still consider myself having enough artistic intuition on this sort of simple analysis. On the other hand, at the risk of being insulting, I have to say we hold different standards for art and artistry. I'm not saying that every element in a work has to be perfect, or even show serious artistic consideration, because such is not true. Art is art, on any level. But, if you are going to refuse to consider improvement only because the way it is now is precious to you, that is hiding behind the title of the artist, not earning it. IF there is an artistic justification that outweighs the appearance and the inconvenience, I would certainly appreciate an explanation, because I don't get the feel that Mr Mantia seriously considered the "i" placement an artistic endeavour. If he did, let him know that it failed to express what he meant to me, and I'm all into visual art and design so it is likely that such a message remains hidden to others as well. I also believe that widgets should be updated and improved upon, especially with the user in mind, as much as possible, and assuming there was no artistic message in the placement of the "i", I would personally appreciate modification with convenience for the user in mind this time, rather than keeping it "just so." That is, all those other widgets update with the user in mind for a reason.

4) Don't put words in my mouth! "...to be at the bottom we'd have just had a massive space under all the buttons. In another thread, you yourself were bemoaning wasted space by widget developers...". Yes, I hate wasted space. Guess what though? That applies to yew tew! Just take a look by aligning the default weather widget (preferably with the forecast open) along the bottom of the NYTimes widget! You'll find that there is more than enough space for the "i", save for the dark grey box. So you ALREADY have a "massive space under all the buttons"! If the grey box were even on all sides, (it is currently thicker below than above the buttons) say, to the thickness of the sides, which is all that is necessary for the dimension you sought to achieve, you wouldn't even have to overlap the grey box. Thus, it is perfectly possible to place the "i" down there, with slight modifications. (Though more major modifications could easily save even more space.) And really, if that's what it takes to put the "i" where it belongs, even I don't mind, so long as the space is kept to a minimum, like in the weather widget. Of course, you could just ignore what I say and keep it the way you want...but I urge you to seriously consider if what you want is to keep it ever so slightly awkward.

I want you to understand, Chris, that the only motivation for me to go into such critical depth is that I really do appreciate the widget. So much that I want it to keep getting better, and I think it's worth the work. If you don't hate me now for being rather angrily critical, and you want to here more interesting comments other than the "i" dealy (which is not even a serious drawback as no user HAS to access it for options), I'd like to see the NYTimes widget on this site so people have a place for comment. Or you could allow me to send you a private message in which I would try to express my points of concern in a clear, logical way that would be much simpler and shorter than the mess up above.... But I'd rather see more people get a chance to give feedback. <(##<) If you've read all the way through, I want you to know that I greatly appreciate that, even if you disagree, because I assume you are taking what I say seriously.

Sorry about the length of this. <(xx<)
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BagOfHammers



Joined: 03 Jul 2005
Posts: 167
Location: under the lucky hippo tree

Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 - 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

galendw wrote:
So yes, the 'i' button is best in the bottom-right, but if there's a reason not to put it there, it doesn't have to.


That's fair, but I lean towards saying that the "reason" you speak of has to outweigh the merit of putting the "i" where people are used to using it.

A couple people have mentioned how one doesn't actually have to hunt for the "i" (at least not very long), which is definitely true, in most cases. But, I don't think that's the issue. I think it should be recognized that a degree of being uniform for common things like the info button would facilitate the use of widgets, although perhaps on a small scale, facilitate none the less. That is, for the user to know pretty much exactly where to go for more info/ options is valuable. The instant widgets place the "i" in other places, the simplicity is broken and the use of widgets becomes (though slighly) more complicated. That's a downer for efficiency, which should be one of the main concerns for widget developers. Apple itself does have a few examples where the info button is elsewhere, but in such cases, there is a reason that outweighs the merit. Even on the iTunes widget, where a simple modification to the design could fit the info button better, the small size of the widget and the otherwise empty space, along with the well-centered "i" where it actually is seems to justify it. It still may not be the most convenient, but at least it fits and feels natural.
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cerberus



Joined: 20 Jun 2005
Posts: 118

Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 - 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The "i" button is bad for my new widget design.. I have letters to choose from on the front side and "i" is not one of them.

"i" in OSX Finder means "get info".. not "change the current main window"

So Apple really cannot insist we use it when a more appropriate icon for this control exists and it was made also by Apple. (and when you see it you will know exactly what the button does, because it is placed in the lower right corner...)

Apple made a "flip over" arrow for this icon and then abandoned it... I will use it because the lower case "i" does not belong on the front of my widget... I was thinking of putting an "i" there to provide.... information, of course, but now I can't use an "i" for information because Apple confused all of us about what "i" means !!

Bag of Hammers , you love uniformity and consistency on your system. So you should consider that the "i" being used to show -preferences- ??!! or to change the main window content....is just plain wrong. There is no need to conform to rules which break other rules that are even more fundamental... is there ?

cerberus
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Ludge



Joined: 09 May 2005
Posts: 98
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Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 - 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BagOfHammers wrote:
WARNING: This post is very long, and I've directed it mostly for Chris. I didn't want to send a private message only because this does still reflect thoughts on widgets in general and also because such a private message was not solicited.


You're overreacting. His post was perfectly fair, and I have a lot of empathy for it.

Also, can you please start using the "Edit" button on the forum? It's generally considered bad netiquette to reply multiple times in a row (ie. several posts in a row by the same user in the same thread). You do this a lot. Just put it in one post or edit the original if you have an afterthought.
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Chris



Joined: 27 Jan 2005
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Location: Durham, UK

Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 - 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BagOfHammers wrote:
WARNING: This post is very long, and I've directed it mostly for Chris. I didn't want to send a private message only because this does still reflect thoughts on widgets in general and also because such a private message was not solicited.

*snip*

Sorry about the length of this. <(xx<)


Well, wow. That's a lot to wade through Smile

OK. First off, when designing and implementing Hot off the Press, many people were involved in the beta testing. Not one mentioned that the info button being where it was caused a problem. This kinda confirmed that our initial judgement was fine - apparently you think it isn't; well, OK, we can't please everyone, I won't hold that against you - I'm not here for an argument.

I would point out that my 'resenting' your comment does not belittle your opinion, just they way you phrased it. Telling me that what we did was poorly planned is far more of an insult; yet you took what I had to say in reply far more to heart? Well, once again that's fine. It's just that we had a few designs and a number of people viewing it telling us whether they found it hard to follow. We never said 'the info button is in the top right', so the fact they found it without it ruining their experience of the widget made us assume it was all well and good. This is, of course, the "USERS" you talk about. So you find it difficult to find an info button that is not exactly where you expect it - we didn't find that in our own trials, hence it's final positioning.

I should point out that we may change the look of HOTP, possibly in a way to accommodate your suggestions. It's not my place to dictate the design, I just find these wee nuances a bit far fetched at times (especially when even my great grandmother had no problem identifying the info button, but that's another story). I'll leave this reply here, since I don't want to delve into this any further. Please do not take anything to heart, and I most certainly did not mean to " flat-out insult" you.

Now, may I ask a favour? Please may you stop with the weird <(xx<) stuff? I have no idea why you do it - although, if I am missing something profound, please enlighten me. Again, I am not being malicious.
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