~6 min · Michael Scherrer-Kast & Stefan Huber · 02. Juni 2018
During the case study in the summer of 2018, an intensive working day was spent working out drafts on how the existing Etherpad software could be extended with additional functions and how the user interface could be extended.
Collaborative work using software offers many opportunities for distributed groups to complement each other despite spatial distance or to simultaneously perform an effort at the same location. The open source software Etherpad offers an easy introduction to this when it comes to text creation. However, the free product is almost too simple for certain requirements.
Etherpad can be configured differently during installation. For example, for structured texts it helps to give the user the possibility to insert titles. For other areas, the software does not offer the user any visual help, but the text serves as a universal “interface”.
The problems with Etherpad are as diverse as the applications. The following problems have been taken into focus for the day:
Personal comments/documents/notes that are not visible to others must be captured outside of Etherpad and cannot be given to the document in context. Personal enrichment of the document should be possible. The solution found for this problem should also work for public (i.e. visible to all) enrichments.
Tasks resulting from the text are not visible without reading the text in depth and there is no progress indicator about already completed tasks.
After a short introduction, the students made an analysis of already existing software products, which were then discussed collectively.
Tiö, Wolfgang and Marc have created a design in which they have very clearly distinguished the separation of public and private additions. So the notes are always private and the comments are always public.
Clear separation of private and public supplements
Context-sensitive formatting and insertion of additions
Table of contents helps to navigate in the document
You would still have to explain in the interface that notes are private and comments are public (very important not to confuse).
Visually you could have displayed more information in the text for tasks. See draft “Focus”
Use consistent labels (Post it & Save)
Admin and user not distinguished in view (except position)
Do you really have to save the fulfillment of subtasks?
Different symbols/interface elements for adding people and subtasks not ideal
some errors in the mockups (example: when creating a task, you can’t have already done some subtasks)
This case study illustrates the difference between UX and UI design. The focus was clearly on the UX design, i.e. how the user should be guided through the application. Of course, the interface design also has its parst, but will need more work later on. First it has to be clear what the application is supposed to achieve and in a second step it is more about creative topics like typography, color etc. It’s nice to see what results are available within a day. All groups have worked out a basis on which one can continue to work on. At a given time, a user test would certainly be a necessary step. So it can be determined how the end user gets along with the application and where he stops. Ultimately, the success of an application lies both in its concept as in the nitty gritty parts like microanimations and that alike. The playing field of interaction design is large…
Thanks to Matthias Koch for taking notes of the analysis.