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Notification Handling Discussion


Bohtty
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Hello again.

 

If you are familiar with DeviantArt's notification system (the system that pony.fm's notification system is based on) then you know that you have to open new tabs for each art work, journal, poll, etc that you want to see. Otherwise you have to go back and forth to the notification page, which is a huge hassle. It was suggested on Skype that we find a solution to this problem that doesn't involved, hopefully, multiple tabs or tedious navigation.

 

One solution is to make a notification overlay on each page that toggles. This idea, however, would cause a lot of complications that would be nice to avoid.

 

The second solution is to make the notification open the target page inside the page. Similar to the preview email feature that many email clients offer.

 

Feel free to discuss these solutions or to put forth your own. More suggestions can only help.

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The idea I was thinking of was to avoid the hassle of manually deleting "read" notifications by auto-deleting them as soon as you "open" them. Tentatively, that should be relatively easy to pull off using some AJAX, without adding a "flyout" notifications menu to every page or loading any content into the notifications dashboard.

 

I'm open to other ideas, however. My particular idea means that you wouldn't really have a way to open the content associated with a notification without deleting the notification. I'm not sure if strict control over when exactly the notification is deleted matters to most people.

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@,

I think that deleting them once you open the notification would be good, but my main problem is that it is tedious to go back and forth between the notification page and the page it is notifying me about. Usually I just open them all in new tabs then delete them so that I don't have to come back to the notification page. It doesn't bother me as much as the notification update problem, but it would be nice to see if a solution could be found so that multiple tabs and tedious navigation wouldn't be involved.

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  • 2 weeks later...

...my main problem is that it is tedious to go back and forth between the notification page and the page it is notifying me about.

 

This right here is, I believe, the core issue with the notification system that will need to be addressed one way or another. Bringing it out from being its own "feature" that lives in its own space to being an organic component running in the veins of the entire site.

 

I do not personally have an issue with multiple tabs, but I can see how this can be a problem for those with smaller screens or especially mobile devices. Making a single-tab experience as smooth as possible can only help Pony.fm in the end, and designing the notification system to smoothly integrate into every page could be a big part of that.

 

I think I'll reconsider the idea of making a "popup" notifications panel that comes up on the page you are currently on, without taking you into the dashboard. Tentatively, that might not actually be as difficult as I first thought.

 

But going further, I wonder if implementing some kind of notifications panel that doesn't cover most of your browser window may be even more effective. A sidebar, for example. Even if I were to add a popup notifications window, that would still take:

  • one click to open the window
  • one more click to open whatever the notification is about

Subsequently opening the window again would require, again, two clicks. Wouldn't it be nice if one of those clicks could be removed? On the other hand, two-click notification reading seems to work fine for MLP Forums and Facebook, and adding a persistent UI element for notifications has the potential to seriously clutter the UI.

 

I'm inclined to put this on the "wait and see" list, as seeing the notification system in action on a larger scale would give us much more data and feedback to work with. The current system, with the notifications themselves living on a dedicated page, is serviceable for the purposes of the minimum viable product if you ask me.

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Subsequently opening the window again would require, again, two clicks. Wouldn't it be nice if one of those clicks could be removed? On the other hand, two-click notification reading seems to work fine for MLP Forums and Facebook, and adding a persistent UI element for notifications has the potential to seriously clutter the UI.

I'd also like to point out that sometimes it's better to use something that the user is familiar with even if it's slightly more tedious. That being said, I think putting it on the "wait and see" list is a good idea. 

 

The pop up menu doesn't have to be very big either. It could be a hub that you click on and it produces several small icons to indicate the types of notifications you have. Then clicking/hovering over those will produce icons for the individual notifications with a hover tool tip showing title and author of the notification. then you could select any number of these notification icons and then click on the original notification hub and it'll take you to a page where all of these notifications share a page. Think of it like a tree-like structure. I haven't seen anything like this done before so it's kinda hard to explain with just text. Ideally this would take maybe 10 - 20 seconds to see which notifications the user wants to see right at that moment. It's not so much the amount of clicks as it is the distance the mouse has to travel and load time for the pages. Basically the time it takes to see the notifications. 

 

It's different, but I think it could really expedite the notification viewing process. For deviant art I only look at two things, the image and the author. I usually delete most journal entry notifications unless the title interests me. Same with polls. Thankfully a music hosting website doesn't have to worry about images. That means my process for selecting notifications is likely to depend mostly on the author and secondarily on the title of the song. For replies to comments I usually view those no matter what so I dont need to see a title or any preview text.

 

It's late so I don't know how well all of that was worded, but I could make a quick diagram if you are interested.

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I'd also like to point out that sometimes it's better to use something that the user is familiar with even if it's slightly more tedious. That being said, I think putting it on the "wait and see" list is a good idea. 

 

The pop up menu doesn't have to be very big either. It could be a hub that you click on and it produces several small icons to indicate the types of notifications you have. Then clicking/hovering over those will produce icons for the individual notifications with a hover tool tip showing title and author of the notification. then you could select any number of these notification icons and then click on the original notification hub and it'll take you to a page where all of these notifications share a page. Think of it like a tree-like structure. I haven't seen anything like this done before so it's kinda hard to explain with just text. Ideally this would take maybe 10 - 20 seconds to see which notifications the user wants to see right at that moment. It's not so much the amount of clicks as it is the distance the mouse has to travel and load time for the pages. Basically the time it takes to see the notifications. 

 

It's different, but I think it could really expedite the notification viewing process. For deviant art I only look at two things, the image and the author. I usually delete most journal entry notifications unless the title interests me. Same with polls. Thankfully a music hosting website doesn't have to worry about images. That means my process for selecting notifications is likely to depend mostly on the author and secondarily on the title of the song. For replies to comments I usually view those no matter what so I dont need to see a title or any preview text.

 

It's late so I don't know how well all of that was worded, but I could make a quick diagram if you are interested.

 

A diagram would certainly be useful. I think I have an idea of what you're getting at, but a visual would be a really good idea. :)

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Ok so basically this is just what was in my mind when I came up with the idea. The concept obviously doesn't have to be restricted to the layout I used in the diagrams. They are also quick to get the idea across as I saw it. Sizes are not accurate and obviously they are all missing legitimate icons, etc, etc.

 

Basically I saw it as a single button at the top corner of the page that you'd click (the red circle) and it would produce sub categories of notifications (the green/blue circles). There would be categories like song/album updates, replies, system, other with respective icons. Then you would click on those circles which would result in producing the individual notifications (the purple circles)

post-3976-0-96598100-1359890427.png

 

Then the user would select the notifications they wanted to view (the purple circles highlighted with red) and then they would click on the original notification button (the red circle) to take them to a new page. At this point, hovering over the individual notifications (purple circles) would result in a, hopefully better looking, pop up with the title and author. 

post-3976-0-99942700-1359890506.png

 

It would take the user to a new page where you'd have all of the selected notifications put into one page. Song notifications would allow you to listen to the songs at this point. Reply notifications would allow you to reply and system would usually just be warnings that have no use other than to be read. One benefit of this is that you can listen to a song and reply/read messages at the same time. (the multiple colors just indicate the categories of messages. This is just to display the idea and is in no way necessary for the system to work.)

post-3976-0-44928200-1359890629.png

 

Obviously some modifications would need to be made especially, I think, the initial tree structure which seems like it might be harder to reproduce on the fly. One problem is dealing with massive amounts of notifications. A potential solution for this is to either group similar messages together. (ie: Instead of 1 notification for each "like" a song receives it could say "you received 171 likes on <song>") the other solution is to simply have an "see more" icon that would take the user to a more detailed notification page. I'd rather avoid that one and try to group where possible.

 

Anyways, I know this system would, in theory, fix my problem. I can't speak for other people's usage habits so maybe more discussion is necessary

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I personally don't mind the Soundcloud notification system. I don't know how familiar you are with it, but I don't mind it at all.

Although it seems that the main concern right now is how to set up a "read notification" system.

Now as for your diagram Bohtty, is that the intended GUI design, or just a simple proof-of-concept mockup?

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@@Bohtty, Although using icons is a great idea, the problem is, it might not be too user friendly. icons are fickle thing, ad there are only so many standard icons. And most of those apply to e-mail and web page stuff. So we would need good icons to represent Likes, favourites and replies, if we can even do that. It may be easier to just nick the notification system for some part from DeviantArt. Or even do a hybrid between that and Facebook.

 

But for the sake of it, don't give to much things to uploaders. For example don't send too many notifications on likes and favourites separately, or omit them completely. I know YouTube doesn't notify you if someone likes your video. So those things can be relegated to something smaller.

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(edited)

@, Perhaps... I did have some icons in mind for the categories when I was making them. It would depend on how Feld0 plans on generalizing notifications (if this format is used.), but personally I generalized notifications into these four categories:

  1. Subscribed user's uploads (music and album uploads) -- could be represented by a musical note icon.
  2. Comment/Message interaction with users (replies and private messages) -- Could be represented by a speech bubble icon
  3. Users interaction with your content (likes, downloads, favorites)  -- Could be represented with a star icon.
  4. System (announcements from the server or admins)  -- Could be represented by a gear icon.

I came up with these rather quickly so it wouldn't surprise me if some feature doesn't fit or if I missed something all together. My only concern is the amount of clicks needed to see your notifications, but if Feld0 wants to use a system like this then I'm sure that some shortcuts can made for generic actions (like viewing all notifications without having to click on all of them, etc)

 

Ideally there would be notification settings somewhere in the user control panel, but thats up to feld0. I would prefer a system like youtube where you can like something without adding it to your favorites. If that is the case then the user should be able to limit it to a notification every 100, 1000 or 10000 likes or not at all if they wanted.


Now as for your diagram Bohtty, is that the intended GUI design, or just a simple proof-of-concept mockup?

Proof of concept, but I'd be interested to see how well my idea would worked following the layout in the diagram.

Edited by Bohtty
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@@Bohtty, On one hand I would do the subscribed music differently, like how the old YouTube layout started at your "subscription box" a logged in user of pony.fm would start at their subscription box and see the 10/20/30 latest uploaded tracks by what they are subscribed to. Even mix in the activity/just tracks feed like YouTube does it. It would be far more powerful and far more user friendly to have the front page also be the main hub to get to music you like. A recommended and new/featured tab would also be useful.

 

So I would relegate all new uploads there instead of a notification centre.

 

The other things I'm perfectly fine with, but they would have to look useful enough. we could perhaps implement a choice for users how they would like to see those personal notifications.

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(edited)

@@Bohtty, On one hand I would do the subscribed music differently, like how the old YouTube layout started at your "subscription box" a logged in user of pony.fm would start at their subscription box and see the 10/20/30 latest uploaded tracks by what they are subscribed to. Even mix in the activity/just tracks feed like YouTube does it. It would be far more powerful and far more user friendly to have the front page also be the main hub to get to music you like. A recommended and new/featured tab would also be useful.

 

So I would relegate all new uploads there instead of a notification centre.

 

The other things I'm perfectly fine with, but they would have to look useful enough. we could perhaps implement a choice for users how they would like to see those personal notifications.

I don't really know how youtube used to do their notifications because I didn't use youtube consistently, but now that I do, I can say that I don't like how they have it currently set up. The problem isn't that you start at your notifications page (which I agree is a good idea), its that there are no notification settings. It just gives me all things it deems worthy of notification. I personally don't care about any activity other than uploads from the people I subscribe to so it just ends up making the front page annoying to sift through.

 

Also youtube's new layout is quite inconsistant, but thats unrelated. lol

 

A new/featured tab could be done quite easily, I would think, but the recommended page would seem harder. I know close to nothing when it comes to audio programming. All I know is that youtube's recommended video option is usually incredibly inaccurate. Additionally, I am sure that other recommended features on other websites are inaccurate simply because I cannot think of one that ever is. Bad recommendation features usually get ignored and forgotten by me. Although that might be because most websites I used deal in images or videos. Pandora and Slacker radio have been pretty good at finding music I like. If Feld0 can come across or make a good algorithm for identifying similar music, then sure, go for it. Otherwise I think it would be a wasted effort, but that is just me.

 

As for the user picking how they want to view their notifications, that would be up to Feld0 since it would basically just be more work to rewrite how notifications are displayed. It could be useful, but at the same time, users don't always know whats best for them. I guess I would have to see how it's done? *shrug* xD

 

EDIT: Reading over what you typed, I'm not quite sure if I understand completely. Do you mean to say that there should be a separate notification system for music files? or that they should be displayed in a different fashion than other notifications?

Edited by Bohtty
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Here's my (rather fancy) idea for the notification system GUI, which can be compatible with real-time notifications, but not dependent on them.

 

Ok, so! This is a four-image progression to help explain my idea.

 

You begin with no (new?) notifications. Notifications will follow you around as a dropdown system built into the navbar, using this icon (as per the current Pony.FM design)

img-1157946-1-PonyFM%20NotifSeq%201.png

 

When you get a notification, the icon becomes correctly colored, and has a notification image showing you the TOTAL number of notifications. In my case, one.

img-1157946-2-PonyFM%20NotifSeq%202.png

 

Clicking on the active (or Notif_Yes state as I named it while designing) icon will open a dropdown menu, consisting of only two icons, as well as a further-detailed notification count. In my case, one notification for content.

img-1157946-3-PonyFM%20NotifSeq%203.png

 

Now, here's where it gets weird, because I don't know how to go from here. Somehow or another (click?), you get this panel, which details your new content notifications. In this case, I have one new album, which is displayed in the format of · Artist - Album title ... ...timestamp >

img-1157946-4-PonyFM%20NotifSeq%204.png

 

At this point, you can click to go right to the content that the notification references, or you can go to the notification page to view all notifications. It's a similar idea for the new tracks, and the Feedback notification types (or type singular if you're not an artist?).

 

One thing I just thought about though is using mouseover to navigate most of this panel.

 

Mouse over notification icon to open dropdown, hold mouse over one of the icon types, and then the only click you have to make is on either the notification itself or the "show all" button.

 

 

What do you think?

 

EDIT:

I also made an animated GIF to go with it, but I couldn't get it to embed properly, so DusK did it for me

img-1157946-5-PonyFM%20NotifSeq.gif

 

Doin' what Anorax don't.

thanks DusK. Don't know why I couldn't get the GIF to embed properly. Edited by Anorax
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Here's my (rather fancy) idea for the notification system GUI, which can be compatible with real-time notifications, but not dependent on them.

That is more or less what I said with my system except it's just in a different layout. It's hard to say which I like better. The problem with your system is that I would still need to make multiple tabs if I wanted to see multiple notifications. 

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