ScrapBook, for those of you who are unfamiliar with it, is our photosharing tool. It's built off of Fotobuilder, another open source product of Brad's. It's a powerful tool with great tag support, and is a terrific way to host photos to insert into your journal entries. But we know we can improve its usability, so we decided to forage in the ScrapBook orchard to "pick some low-hanging fruit", as Frank likes to say.
Enter the research/interaction tag team of esoterico and technopatra
esoterico kicked things off by conducting usability testing to see what areas of the design need to be changed. She recruited five people from the SF Bay Area for 1 hour testing sessions in our offices, where she asked them to complete a number of ScrapBook tasks. These 21 – 31 year olds were current LJ users with free accounts and experience using a web photo service such as Kodak EasyShare Gallery, Snapfish, Shutterfly, Flickr, etc.
These five free account users responded favorably to ScrapBook’s capabilities, but as you will see, changes are needed to improve the user experience. Recurring issues centered on navigation, discovery/learnability of options, and nomenclature.
The Road to ScrapBook
The lack of clear navigation was a roadblock for all users. Once in ScrapBook, users are confronted with an entirely different and different main nav – even the header is a different color. When asked to navigate back to from ScrapBook to LiveJournal, users consistently clicked on their username, expecting to return to LiveJournal. There is no easy way to go back and forth. When viewing their pictures, all users had difficulty navigating back to ScrapBook. It was not clear that Manage Galleries would return to ScrapBook.
Discovery/Learnability of Options
Changing Styles Makes Me Dizzy
All users had difficulty changing the ScrapBook style. The task is not straightforward – users have to “create” a style then edit it to select from the available templates. No confirmation page is provided after a style is chosen, so users have to back all the way out and view their ScrapBook to confirm that change was made.
Uploading Pictures to… Uh..?
When uploading pictures from the Management Area, users are faced with two areas to create a new gallery. Users initially created a gallery, selected photos to upload, and as they progressed down the page, they faced another gallery creation area and were unsure if they needed to create another gallery. These users are used to other tools that make creating galleries/albums a completely distinct task from uploading pictures, so our combination of the two caused confusion.
Dude, Where’s My Userpic?
Navigation to creating a userpic is buried as a link at the bottom of the edit page for each picture, so some users are not aware that the option exists. Once they create a userpic, there is no way to view it in ScrapBook. Again, users had figure out how to navigate to LiveJournal, often missing the small link t the bottom of each page.
Tag set vs. Gallery…huh?
Users commented that since they are shown in the same screen as galleries, tag sets inflate the number of perceived galleries. This also creates a sense of redundancy with the Manage Tags page.
Scaring users from style changes
The link to customize one specific gallery style, rather than the default style for all galleries, is labeled “Advanced.” Users were hesitant on clicking the link because of the naming convention, assuming there were more technical options that they wouldn’t understand.
esoterico then passed the baton to me, technopatra.
Truth be told, none if these were earth-shattering revelations. We’ve been aware of them and working on some bigger solutions that require deep engineering work, like editing styles. What I wanted to get out of this research is what issues were the more important, and what fast changes we could make to address them that don’t require too much engineering work, since our engineers are up to their ears with other projects.
So armed with the data from esoterico’s user testing sessions, I came up with the following quick fixes:
1) LJ navigation integration - We updated the ScrapBook nav to that it matches the rest of LiveJournal. The real problem here was that ScrapBook was created as a totally separate product, hence the separate nav. We integrated it into LJ to that it is a feature of LJ, like your Journal rather than a separate tool.
2) ScrapBook link – we changed this so it takes you where you want to go – to manage your galleries for publishing. To see your published galleries you click “View”.
3) Upload page – we removed the “create” new option so that upload is all you do on the Upload page.
4) Free users – we you go to http://pics.livejournal.com/ you see a new introduction to ScrapBook.
Some of these have already been implemented, some are still being worked on. The issues not addressed with the quickie fixes are in the works as part of larger projects. Stay tuned.