Usability: Toolbar consistent in all modes, less buttons

Ideas for improvements and requests for new features in XnView Classic

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helmut
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Usability: Toolbar consistent in all modes, less buttons

Post by helmut » Mon Jul 07, 2008 8:38 pm

Usability is my main issue and concern. In XnView 1.93.6 the toolbar has some issues regarding usablity:

A - Non-important buttons are displayed by default.
Currently, there's quite a number of buttons which are not so important and should not be listed in the toolbar:

- Info (for opening About dialog)
- Options (for opening Options dialog)
- Flip horizontal (NOT applicable for scanned documents because contents are mirrored)
- Flip vertical (NOT applicable for scanned documents because contents are mirrored)
- Goto frame number (typically documents have few pages and Next frame/Prev frame can be used)

Even more buttons like "Batch processing" and "Properties" might be removed. Users that use these functions more often can add it to the toolbar.

B - Depending on the mode (Basic, Browser, Image view), the order of buttons changes.


Suggested toolbar
In the toolbars suggested the above problems should be resolved.

====== Basic mode
Image
Browser
---
Open...
---
Slideshow
Batch processing
---
File search
Scan
Capture


====== Browser mode
Image
Open
Open fullscreen
---
Rotate anti-clockwise
Rotate clockwise
JPG lossless rotation
---
Properties
Print
File operation
---
Slideshow
Create Webpage
Create Contactsheet
Batch processing
---
Search
Scan
Capture

====== Image view mode
Image
Browser
Open...
Save as
----
Undo
Crop
Rotate anti-clockwise
Rotate clockwise
JPG lossless rotation
Adjust
Red eye correction
---
Zoom +
Zoom -
Zoom
Open fullscreen
---
Previous file
Next file
Previous page
Next page
Quick slide show
---
Properties
Print
File operations
---
Batch processing
---
Search
Scan
Capture

Some notes:
- Quick slide show is related to slide show but in fact is has not so much to do with it. Quick slide show is more related to navigation. BTW: "Quick slide show" should have an icon (a bit) different to "Slide show".

- Currently "Create webpage" and "Create contact sheets" can be applied on selected files, only (not an arbitrary file list). This limitation is reflected in the toolbar.

- Zoom +/- have been put side-by-side for quicker handling.

- In image view mode it would be nice to get rid of the "Open..." toolbar button because it's not needed if you use the XnView browser. But it's needed when working without browser.

- It's a good idea to set the above toolbar and try it out for a while to see how it "feels". That's what I currently do.

marsh
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Re: Usability: Toolbar consistent in all modes

Post by marsh » Sat Mar 03, 2012 1:24 pm

I agree with dismissal of do-nothing informational buttons (about, options, properties). Also flip horizontal/vertical, & goto frame for reasons given.

View mode dismissal suggestions:
Batch processing (works better for browser mode where files can be highlighted).
Search (works better in browser mode when its <browse> button is pressed).

General dismissal suggestions:
Create web-page (non-routine action)
Create contact sheet (non-routine action)
Scan (non-routine action)
Capture (non-routine action)
Print (non-routine action)
Slideshow/Quick slideshow (completely different functions depending on mode so removal in all modes... not just one.)
Jpeg lossless transformations dialog (it isn't even necessary to use this dialog to have transformations)

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helmut
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Re: Usability: Toolbar consistent in all modes

Post by helmut » Sun Mar 04, 2012 11:50 pm

Thanks for revitalizing this topic, marsh. :-) Good that you have added a reason why a specific button should be removed. I'll have a closer look at your suggestions.

What we should keep in mind, is that people just double-click on files and XnView is opened in Image view mode, immediately. And in the past it has been said that there's people who always use double-click and do no use the browser at all. (@XnTriq: Perhaps you can find the appropriate post). Personally, I work with the browser, only, and I'm not sure how much we have to take this into account or not.

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XnTriq
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Re: Usability: Toolbar consistent in all modes

Post by XnTriq » Mon Mar 05, 2012 1:30 am

helmut wrote:And in the past it has been said that there's people who always use double-click and do no use the browser at all. (@XnTriq: Perhaps you can find the appropriate post).

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Re: Usability: Toolbar consistent in all modes

Post by marsh » Mon Mar 05, 2012 1:08 pm

After firing up program with defaults, here is the illustration of my initial reaction posted above. Made with no regard to changing order. Only removing items from new v.1.98.7.
Image
And made with no regard to what was on my desktop at the time, any concept of directing novices to odd sections, or how it looks.

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Re: Usability: Toolbar consistent in all modes

Post by JohnFredC » Mon Mar 05, 2012 1:33 pm

IMO the Options button (gear) should be on every toolbar by default.
John

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Re: Usability: Toolbar consistent in all modes

Post by marsh » Mon Mar 05, 2012 1:54 pm

A quick paste of options icon.
Image

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helmut
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Re: Usability: Toolbar consistent in all modes

Post by helmut » Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:31 pm

JohnFredC wrote:IMO the Options button (gear) should be on every toolbar by default.
Hmm, the toolbar should contain frequently used functions for easy and quick access.

Is the Options button really such a frequently used function?

@XnTriq: Thanks for the links, Mr. Librarian! :-)

@marsh: Thanks for your draft showing all three toolbars. That's a good basis for discussions. :-)

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Re: Usability: Toolbar consistent in all modes

Post by JohnFredC » Tue Mar 06, 2012 2:44 am

2Helmut
Since Pierre has chosen not to surface (at the top level) a few options that I tend to change frequently, I am in the XnView Options dialog several times a day.

We are discussing the initial toolbars seen by a new user in a new installation of XnView, not what seasoned users might want as their ultimate toolbars.

For (I expect) a significant percentage of users, including perhaps some who have already posted in this thread, the first thing (or very soon after the first thing) is to peruse (and set) the Options.

So, hiding the Options button from the initial XnView toolbars (in the service of an arbitrary minimalist visual aesthetic) seems almost perverse to me: an unnecessary roadblock to ease of use. It just slows down the user, newbie and expert alike. A few of the other proposed elisions strike me the same way.
John

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helmut
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Re: Usability: Toolbar consistent in all modes

Post by helmut » Wed Mar 07, 2012 12:06 am

Thank you very much for your opinion on this matter, John. Your wise opinion is always appreciated. :-)

Less is more
In some way, I'm a minimalist, yes. Reason is, that by adding too much non-important stuff, the really important stuff cannot be seen/found/understood easily. This makes easy things complicated and slows down users.

In terms of the toolbar buttons the problem is, that users need quite a moment to search the toolbar to find a specific function. A toolbar is for quickly accessing often used functions. By putting (almost) everything into the toolbar, the user can theoretically access everything with one click and thus very fast, but time is needed to find the right button amongst the many buttons.

So I propose that less-frequently used functions should be removed from the toolbar. Here, less is more. For those functions not available in the toolbar, there's still the main menu with all the functions are available. And often, there's the context menu and/or a keyboard short cut.

Frequent functions
Difficult to say what "frequent" or "often" means. I'd say using a function five times a day is not often and does not make usage really cumbersome. Using a function 50 times a day is definetly often. I can imagine that standard users rotate, red eye correct, cut, navigate, and do other stuff many, many times a day. But I doubt that standard users flip or open the options many, many times a day. And those few (non-standard) users who do use a specific function frequently, can change the toolbar individually or learn the shortcut (if available). In XnView MP user can even configure indivdual shortcuts for (every?) function(s).
JohnFredC wrote:A few of the other proposed elisions strike me the same way.
Which ones?

(Note: Looking at current Office 2000 products shows a different trend which supports the idea of putting everything into the toolbar: The known main menu with menu items vanished and was replaced by ribbons. And ribbons can be considered as complex toolbars. Hmm.)

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Re: Usability: Toolbar consistent in all modes

Post by JohnFredC » Wed Mar 07, 2012 5:16 pm

Hi Helmut. I do truly like a good debate, but the time it takes to do it properly can be hard to come by.

Anyway, yes yes my opinions are frequently rendered ex cathedra :( . It's just my unfortunate manner, as my spouse frequently points out. But I have spent my entire professional career (almost 30 years) in the triangle of software development, software use, and software support, hence my opinions derive from considerable experience and are rarely arbitrary.

So...

When opinions differ in UI design (as they inevitably will: we are all different) it is helpful to return to "first principles".

You wrote:
Reason is, that by adding too much non-important stuff, the really important stuff cannot be seen/found/understood easily.
Believe me I concur with this perspective. But the problem is: how to distinguish the "non-important stuff" from the "really important stuff". Perhaps you will agree that depends on the user? If so, the first step should be to identify that user.

But there isn't just one user type! There are several. It is my view that the initial toolbars shown by a new XnView installation should attempt to address the needs of several types of users and not focus only on a single user type.

This approach may be controversial in the forum, which appears to favor newbies only. But for the sake of argument, consider the potential XnView users who would encounter an initial XnView installation:
  • (1) First time user of XnView, no graphics viewer/organizer experience (newbie)
    (2) First time user of XnView, but experienced with [fill in the blank] software (ie. Picasa, Lightroom, etc).
    (3) First time user of XnView, looking for a specific function (webpage gallery creation, for instance)
    (4) Experienced XnView user, first-time installation on a new computer
    (5) Experienced XnView user, re-install/upgrade of existing installation
The next step would be to walk through the potential toolbar buttons and assess the importance of each to each user class.

For instance, here is my view of the importance of the Options button for the user classes listed above:
  • 1) Options: not very important
    2) Options: Moderately important
    3) Options: Important
    4) Options: Very important
    5) Options: Very important
Since XnView has so very many functions, it may be useful to classify them into some categories of their own. I use the following categories:
  • 1) Primary function: Essential for using the software ("Open", "View", for instance)
    2) Secondary function: Essential for accessing a specific feature("Convert", for instance)
    3) Tertiary or subordinate function: Optional for using a specific feature("Next/previous page", perhaps)
OK, perhaps you can see where I am going with this.

It is possible the absence of a particular button on the initial toolbars could "make or break" XnView for a user, something to be avoided, I think.

OTOH, the presence of a button a user does not need is much less "dangerous", even when the impact of UI aesthetics on the user's response to the program as an whole is taken into account. I conclude that it is preferable to err on the side of over-populated toolbars rather than the opposite.

I do love a good debate! 8)

PS. Of course everything IS already available on the XnView menus. But I'm a "toolbar guy". :wink:
John

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Re: Usability: Toolbar consistent in all modes

Post by marsh » Wed Mar 07, 2012 8:08 pm

And I like looking for the most high gain, simplistic low-effort points. So I hope such abbreviated posts aren't mistaken for lack of interest. Concerning the typing of users. Single-mode particularly, (browser-only and viewer-only). I think focussing on them would be contrary to what is already found in options. The program starts up in browser mode while launching an image from file manager is in viewer mode. Encouraging better usage based on how well a function works would not be so unusual. Perhaps it is unusual that program has so much duplication of function based on program section. Basing a toolbar on categorization of users would by necessity lead to a higher population of buttons and not serve any particularly well. I propose not doing this at all.
Let the viewer do exactly that, view. Sure, it does more than view. It rotates, crops. I have not "optioned" an image though. If granted there is a productive feature in opitions, I agree that would be a shortcoming. A button to compensate for this would highlight failure in my opinion.

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Re: Usability: Toolbar consistent in all modes

Post by JohnFredC » Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:06 pm

Marsh wrote:If granted there is a productive feature in options, would that not be a shortcoming in design? A button to compensate for this would highlight failure even if heavily used.
Very good point. Currently those options include the high quality zoom settings, the "tagged file list must be cleared" setting, and less frequently the file list settings.
Marsh wrote:Perhaps it is unusual that a program has so much duplication of function based on program section.
There appears to be a trend in desktop software (M$ possibly excepted) toward duplication of functionality in modal UIs. Some functions should always be "non-modal" and so need to appear in each "modal" view. Think "Copy" and "Paste", "File Open", etc. These are obvious.

But less obviously, and in graphics software in particular, there seems to be a move toward this practice esp. with regard to image adjustments and manipulation. Lightroom duplicates many functions between Library and Develop modes, for instance. Zoner uses a similar approach. Another example is the proliferation of thumbstrip visibilities in graphics software: very useful in almost every "mode". The purists will cry "redundancy", but for me all those thumbstrips are great.

My verbose long-winded post was simply to say that a mix of user types suggests that a mix of buttons is the best implementation...

I'll try to be more succinct next time, but haven't been very successful with that effort in the past and apparently not with this post either. :?
John

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helmut
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Re: Usability: Toolbar consistent in all modes

Post by helmut » Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:00 pm

John, long posts make people hesitant to answer, that has been my experience in the past and I guess applies for your post. Your post is well written, the problem of it is the very scientific approach. Before driving your approach further, the approach itself would need verification. If we continued in such a complexity, our research might finish in 2015. ;-)
JohnFredC wrote:It is possible the absence of a particular button on the initial toolbars could "make or break" XnView for a user, something to be avoided, I think.
Fully agree in this point: Some users don't browse the menus and expect everything available in the toolbar. Removal of a button should be done with much care and in doubt the button should be kept.

Like marsh, I like discussing this matter, but in a less scientific manner. Personally, I wonder what the standard user's use cases are and which ones are frequently performed. Those frequently used functions should make their way into the XnView toolbar. But it's hard to say who and what a standard usage is. And XnView is supposed for a variety of users, not just the average user. Hmm.

* Approach: Vote for removal
I guess we all can say whether we use a specific toolbar button often or not. So let's give discussing the removal of individual buttons a try and see what the outcome is. You want to remove button "xy". Why do you think that it can be removed? Opponents of the removal will argue: Why do you want to keep that button? Why do you use that button often?

Here's a start:

Buttons to remove:
Flip vertically - Rarely used function. For most photos "Flip vertically" does not make sense because image would be upside down.
Flip horizontally - Rarely used function. Flipping distorts an image and makes it mismatch reality.
Options - Rarely used function. There's F12 key and menu for opening options, already.
Go To page# - Rarely used function. Only few percentage of images are multi-page images. And for browsing these, page next/prev are sufficient
Info - Rarely used function. Why would someone use this button frequently?



* Approach: My usage. Your usage?
I guess each of us can easily say in which way he/she uses XnView. And I guess we all can tell which functions are used often and which ones are not. O.k., in some we are special users, because we all know XnView very well. But do we really perform special/extraordinary tasks with XnView? I organize the photos that I take with my digital camera, I doubt that this is unusual. We could all post a sort of profile and see which toolbar buttons are used and needed.

Here's a start:

Helmut's profile
User type: Hobby user
XnView skills: Expert
Main functions: Photo viewing, cropping, batch conversion as preparation for e-mail

Toolbar buttons used (Basic mode)
- (I never use this mode)

Toolbar buttons used (Browser mode)
Sort by, View as

Toolbar buttons used (Image view mode)
Rotate, Crop, Brightness/Contrast/Balance, Red Eye correction, Previous/Next image, Previous/next page, Undo


Just some thougths and ideas... ;-)

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