1 November 2010 at 13:42 #19270
This message is particularly for users such as those who took part in our usability testing, and regular users such as Stuart, Griff and Ruth, all of whom have made a number of constructive suggestions for improving TalkPhysics.
From August, we had planned to have our developer work for the equivalent of 9 weeks fulltime with the aim of completing these priorities:
1) fixing bugs that affect most users (such as displaying names correctly),
2) ensuring the security of the site,
3) completing any work previously begun,
4) building some tools for the administrators (such as a way to analyse our users and usage, and extending the profile to cover the details we need to support trainee secondary teachers in the UK or Ireland), and
5) improving usability.
That development will finish this Friday, 5 November, having spent the planned budget, and achieved:
* Main page improved – the most active 10 discussion topics in the Hub and other open groups are shown when you log in, showing how many comments each has received including how many have been added since you last logged in, with the latest comment shown when you hover your mouse over each topic, an easy way to add a comment, and an easy way to begin a new discussion topic.
* Multimedia improved – embed videos (such as YouTube) and graphics files.
* Menu bar improved – easier to find content and tools.
* Know who you are talking to – all members actively posting to the site have to show professional details, such as their full name and the name and location of their employer.
* Owners of groups can email all members of their group.
* Featured groups – helps you find content.
* Email comments from site to your contacts.
* Security improved to minimise spam.
* Administrative tools developed to allow IOP to support trainee teachers in UK and Ireland better, research the physics teaching workforce, and keep users updated with changes to TalkPhysics.
* 37 bugs fixed.
It is noticeable that TalkPhysics is steadily being used more often, with many new posts by users who weren’t previously known to the IOP.
Unfortunately various items, such as changing the way users’ names were displayed, turned out to be very significant (and therefore time-consuming) changes to the underlying Elgg platform, and the extensive spamming attacks we’ve received (particularly the message that was sent to approximately a thousand of our users over the weekend of Saturday 16 October) meant that we had to divert our efforts from further work on usability to improving security. I’m sure any repeated spamming would have completely wrecked any further use of TalkPhysics. We have about 5 spammers try to register each week, but it had proved too onerous to personally check each of our approximately 100 weekly registrations.
All of the suggestions users have been sending us are useful, and many of them would have been implemented if we had the resources. TalkPhysics may well develop in future, particularly because the usability changes are often quite small, quick changes, but will have to wait until further funding has been found.
I hope you agree that we’ve done what we could to enact suggestions made by users within the constraints of our budget. For instance, revising the layout of the menus was based on a lot of feedback.
22 February 2011 at 08:52 #19273
A point about how pages of comments appear. Page numbers 1, 2, Previous, Next etc appear at the top. However, when you scroll down to the foot of page 1, there is no indication that page 2 exists. Instead, there is the ‘Add a comment’ box. It is easy to be tempted to comment on the topic without realising that there are more recent comments on the next page. Also, it’s tedious to have to scroll back to the top to move on. Can the page numbers be repeated at the foot? And should the comment box only appear on the most recent page?
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