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Comments (39)

1 localhost commented Trackback

I love the idea of showing the current sort column highlighted, but I'm not so keen on not showing that a column is sortable.

 
Many users are used to having an indication that you can change the default sort order based on specific columns. If there was no indication I would assume that you weren't able to change the sort order from any column.
 
Maybe rather than showing the extra arrow, you could provide another visible indication like an underline under the title, or a thicker column border or something?

2 localhost commented Permalink

A visual cue that the column is sortable is a MUST. I don't care if it's that little V, but there needs to be something. Give the developer the option to change the background color on a column header themselves, and that might do.

 
But you have to remember one more VERY important point. There's also a visual cue (and an ugly one) for "click this header to open a different view." That's a great feature, and we're going to need a visual cue for it somehow. I use both of these EXTENSIVELY, so remember that you're not just talking about what the mail template does, but what a hundred thousand custom developed Notes applications do.
 
If you're talking about giving a template developer the ability to turn the cue on and off themselves, that's fine. You have to give us the kind of highlighting control you're looking at, then. And you have to differentiate the "click to change views" option. Heck, you might also want to take into account secondary sort column highlighting (maybe a transition color between the highlight and a regular column?)

3 localhost commented Trackback

I think highlighting the currently sorted column is a must, and I like the way you propose to do it.

 
I don't think you can remove the "sort indicators" though. As you say, not all columns will be sortable. If there's no indicators, then users will be clicking columns left and right, with no idea which ones work and which don't.
 
 
 
Cheers,
 
- Mike

4 localhost commented Permalink

> I think highlighting the currently sorted column is a must, and I like the way you propose to do it.

 
I agree. I'd also like new mail (by default) to arrive at the top of my Inbox.
 
Another simple suggestion: When I'm replicating mail to/from the server and new mail arrives 'on the server', I don't get told that new mail arrives until it's replicated to my local replica where I'm reading it.
 
Darryl

5 localhost commented Trackback

The goals should be to communicate to the user:1. What actions (sorting or linking to another view) are available (if any)2. What column (if any) is currently sorted3. If a column is sorted differently from the default, in what order is it sorted.

 
Suggestions:1. What's available: Definitely always show an indicator like the up/down v's when a column is sortable, and the diagonal arrow icon (which I think is just fine) if navigation to another view is available. It's important to show these options so that a user can know immediately what's available, AND so that they can take one of these actions without needed to first get back to the default state.
 
2. What's currently sorted: Agree with the highlight idea. Perhaps use 2 tones: one 'darker' for the primary sorted column, and one lighter for secondary. Or perhaps a 'solid' highlight for primary, and a gradient highlight for secondary. Problem is with views that have a customized action bar. Developers would need a means of controlling the coloring. No need to show the solid triangle for a user-sorted column; that becomes redundant if highlighting is used.
 
3. In what order is column sorted (yup, I want it all). How 'bout use that solid triangle to point up or down to indicate the current sort order, AND have the open v ...up or down pointing open arrow head ...to indicate if a user can sort the column in the opposite order (as opposed to just returing the view to the default state).
 
The real goal is to minimize training and confusion of the end user.

6 localhost commented Permalink

Hi Chris,

 
I have my My File Location set to Local, and I replicate every 10 mins. However, if I get a mail message b/w replication cycles on the server I'll get a notification on the System Tray. As a long time Notes users, I know the mail is not yet in my local Inbox.
 
Darryl

7 localhost commented Trackback

As an end user I'd say every column should be sortable in every order (in every view, of course, regardless of how the developer wants me to sort them). If my Windows Explorer and iTunes can do that so why not my inbox? This would make it unnecessary to display arrows to indicate which columns can be sorted in which way and which can't. As an end user I'd also think opening another view by clicking on the column header of the current view is inconsistent and broken design. It's a makeshift forced by Notes' view index handling. So no need to display this, either.

 
Anyway, I like the color highlight and sort order indicator in your example.

8 localhost commented Trackback

Highlighting the sorted column is definitely a good idea. I think it should highlight the column that is currently sorted would be great.

9 localhost commented Permalink

Highlighting the currently sorted column(s) is an excellent idea. I have had several frantic support calls that were not resolvable on the phone where the caller said that messages were disappearing after they were, for example, replied to! The situation I found when I visited was that they had "inadvertantly" sorted their Inbox by the replied to icon column. So, once replied to a message went far away! Don't see a strong need to sort that column.

 
I am ambivalent on the visual cues for sorting columns: I agree that removing them will remove visual clutter, but some clue is needed.
 
Keep up the great work,Bob

10 localhost commented Trackback

I agree with a previous post, just make all columns sortable and there's no problem - your example works fine if that is the case.

 
David.

11 localhost commented Permalink

It's interesting to note how many people didn't read the point in the article that says that additional sorting columns increases the size of the index on-disk. :-/

 
@Oliver, "As an end user I'd also think opening another view by clicking on the column header of the current view is inconsistent and broken design. It's a makeshift forced by Notes' view index handling." HUH? If I show a list of contacts that includes company name, and clicking on the company name header takes the user to a list of the companies, what does that have to do with Notes' index handling?

12 localhost commented Trackback

The dev is wrong about bidirectional sorting causing an increase in index size, it doesn't. The view engine, to display an index in reverse order, simply navigates the index backwards. Just like when you are at the end of the view and you as a user navigate it backwards (page up).

 
BTW Mary Beth, I think you are completely right, you need better indication of the default sort order.

13 localhost commented Trackback

@Nathan: There are recommendations to use that feature as a workaround when the view index would get too big if you added another sortable column. That's what I meant.

 
And for me that's the only reason at all why this feature should be used. If an application takes its user to another view when he clicks on a column header, it doesn't work as he'd expect it and as he's used to from other applications. But this is another topic.
 
I indeed read the point in the article about view index sizes. That's why I wrote "as an end user". An end user doesn't know about view index sizes. He just wants to sort his views by any order. This blog is about "designing user experience", not about "solving architectural problems". ;-)

14 localhost commented Permalink

I agree with those who want all columns sortable in either direction--and if it's a design limitation that is currently holding Lotus up, fix the design. Like someone said, every other application (including every modern mail application I can possibly think of) seems to be perfectly capable of doing sorts in either direction.

 
It's silly limitations like this that make Outlook a more popular tool from a user's perspective.

15 localhost commented Permalink

"There are recommendations to use that feature as a workaround when the view index would get too big if you added another sortable column. That's what I meant."

 
I'm really curious who would recommend that, since the incremental size increase of sorting an additional column is generally about 1/3 of the size increase of adding an entirely new view.
 
"If an application takes its user to another view when he clicks on a column header, it doesn't work as he'd expect it and as he's used to from other applications."
 
From what other applications? Is there something besides Notes that has a consistent idea of a "view?" Maybe the local folder explorer in Windows. But not even Excel simply sorts a column because you clicked on a header.
 
If I design my particular template to move from view to view when the header is clicked, then that's consistent with that application. And the fact that there's potentially different behavior is why there is a different visual indicator.
 
All this being said, Mary Beth, given the scenario you put forth... "Samantha, however, just wants to find the blasted email from Ted about how she needs to make end-cap displays of toilets appeal to homeowners so that they sell all the overstock toilets that they have..." why are we concerned with some special sort order here? What Samantha needs is a stronger search engine. Or, more accurately, she's got a perfectly powerful sort engine, she just needs a good way to use it.
 
After all, she really just wants to see a list of all emails from Ted containing "toilets" and maybe "end-cap" That's an FT search smacking you in the face, not a view sort.
 
I'm honestly not sure why we need click-sortable columns in the Inbox AT ALL. Just because someone else does it that way?

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