Steven and Winnie (winniewong) wrote in lj_design,
Steven and Winnie

Redesigning the Navigation Bar

In our efforts to improve the user experience, we have finally reached the point where we must deal with the navigation bar. technopatra is thrilled as she has been a big advocate of improving the usability of the nav bar. We've always had other issues to tackle, and I didn't want to jump into this one without understanding the situation throughly. And I also felt it was a hot potato. Lots of people with lots of opinions. There was a part of me that felt if we had taken this on earlier, there would be a lot of yelling, and not much else.

But it's time. And the first challenge was to figure out a process that would allow us to get to a good solution, quickly. Here's what we did:

Step 1: Card Sorting Prep
daveman692, veroz, and I wrote down all of LJ's features / pages onto index cards. We were going to have us a good ole fashion card sorting brainstorm. We divided into 4 teams. Each group had a moderater to keep things on track, keep people talking, and to record what happens. The card sorting was a brainstorm. We weren't looking to emerge with one magical solution. The goal was to see if there were patterns in thinking that emerged from each group. Each of the groups were assigned a point of view to design around.

  • Group 1: sort the cards as if LJ was a social networking service

  • Group 2: sort the cards as if LJ was a blogging service

  • Group 3: sort the cards for the new user, who is familiar with competing services, but unfamiliar with LJ

  • Group 4: sort the cards for the existing power user, optimizing around frequent tasks

We needed this top bring to the table the difference concerns. I also wanted the team to understand that there is no single "correct" point of view. The reality is that LJ must be a little of all these things.

Step 2: Buy Donuts and Red Bull

The meeting was Wednesday morning. I needed everyone awake. Hence Red Bull and Donuts from Rudy's Donut House. They are wolrd famous. How could I refuse?!

Step 3: Get Everyone Talking and Collaborating
Here's enigma_lab moderating Group 3, with veroz, rynfitz, and anildash (not shown).

esoterico, jamisononfire, henrylyne and Steve take on the point of view of a social network.

technopatra worked with our remote staff, and through the magic of remote conferencing and Visio, moderated a card sorting team with her computer and a phone.

It took about 90 minutes. Good progress was made. Each team grouped the cards according to the point of view they were representing. At the end of the meeting, some consistent themes emerged.

So what were the recurring patterns?

Me, My Friends, and Everyone Else. The idea of ownership was very strong. Me and my content. My Friends content, and Everyone Else's content. This came up in ALL the groups. The journal space and scrapbook space was not always combined into the same group, but they were usually within close proximity at very least.
The Friends feature exposed something interesting. Every group put the Friends cards together, however their reasons for doing so varied. Some saw it as discovery, others felt it was a privacy setting. This attitude seemed to vary by whether or not the user had friends already, or if they were still adding friends.
The importance of discovery and exploration was huge. Most groups had this at a high level.
And there were lots of other things that I'm still studying. Some of them obvious. Some, not so obvious. I'll write more when I learn more. And I'll talk more about our launch plan.
Tags: navigation
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