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Easier access to the Playlist and Queue

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Last seen: 13 years 1 month ago
Joined: 12/20/2009 - 22:23
Easier access to the Playlist and Queue

First, I think it is important that the documentation make clear in the interface that the "Queue" is a download queue and not a play queue. Perhaps you could simply call it the "Download Queue" or just "Downloads" in the app so it would be more clear.

Second, I find it odd that the only way to get to the playlist is when I have the media buttons turned on. But I don't need the media buttons unless I am actually playing media. I think this is a serious UI design flaw. Why should the media buttons be displayed all the time, even when I am not playing anything? And yet, I have to leave them on if I ever want to get to the playlist. That is just crazy!

Third, I have to go two levels deep in menus to get to the download queue screen. What is up with that?

There are four major screens in this program (Feeds, Feed Contents, Playlist, and Download Queue) and half of them are difficult to get to. If you ask me that is violating one of the first rules of user interface design: "Don't make the user work to get to the things they need to get to often." Plus, it is violating another rule: "Be consistent in how the user navigates around in the program." For some screens the user has to go to a menu and for others the user has to click a button that is inexplicably linked to the media buttons and sometimes not even available.

I think access to these screens should be consolidated in one of three possible interface models:

1) A tabbed interface that shows three tabs across the top: Feeds, Playlist, and Downloads. The feed contents are naturally accessed by clicking on one of the feeds.

2) A swipe model where the user simply swipes left and right to get to the different screens. This is not as discoverable but it saves precious screen real-estate. The program could launch a basic help file on first run to inform the user of this interface model.

3) Use menus to get to all the screens but make sure that they were all available from all menus regardless of where the user is in the program. It is irritating to have to go back to the Feeds screen in order to get to the menu that allows me to display the download queue.

Preferably all of these models would be incorporated at the same time. Yet another rule of UI design: "Make it as easy as possible for a user to figure out how to get where they want." This is usually done by providing multiple avenues to get there.

Last seen: 2 years 10 months ago
Joined: 11/06/2008 - 22:02
Great feedback

This is all really good feedback, I appreciate you taking the time to go into detail about your thoughts. I occasionally get lengthy analyses from new users and read them carefully when I do receive them. I try to make DoggCatcher as simple as it can be to get accustomed to but there is always room to make it better, and I've got a ways to go.

Queue - I agree completely. It does display 'download queue' in the title bar when you are on the download queue screen, but the menu to get to that screen is not clear. I created an issue for this which will be in the next release -

Playlist - I also agree here. The ability to hide the media buttons was added after the playlist. Not being able to get to the playlist when the buttons are gone was an oversight. I'll also get that fixed in the next release -

Download queue navigation - There are a limited number of items you can put on the first menu screen, all the rest just wrap onto the next screen that lists them vertically. The menu items that are there now are what seem to me to be the ones that you access most frequently but I could be wrong.

A shortcut to getting to the download queue is to press on the blue status bar at the top of the feeds screen. There is no way for anyone to figure this out unless they accidentally press on it, which I realize is less than perfect. I did just update the user guide to mention this though -

UI #1 - I did experiment with a tabbed ui but the tabs themselves took up so much space that there was very little left over to display much of anything else. The android tabs are pretty large (you can see them on the 'add feed/search' screen), when you try to squish them down, they look bad.

UI #2 - I like this idea. I also experimented with this and had it working on a couple screen but never took it all the way. I created an issue for this, I would like to see this happen since it doesn't interface with the existing UI but makes it a little easier to get around.

UI #3 - I partly agree. I do think that you should be able to get to all relevant screens from the menu items, and that there should be some shortcuts where possible as easier alternatives. You shouldn't be able to get to a screen from a button only, I'll fix this where it is occurring.

I don't think there is a perfect solution here because I have used other apps that let you get to any screen from any screen and it becomes real easy to get lost. In some case you can keep pressing back through a huge stack of screens that you have visited.

I've chosen to design DC so that it revolves around the notion of the feeds screen being 'home'. Actually in the release that the beta testers have now, all the screens have been similarized and have a unique icon at their top left so you can more easily tell where you are. I think this in combination with the changes you mention and the swiping will move us ahead a good bit.

Basic help file - I just added something similar, but I'm not sure if it's in the version that's in the market or not. When you have a new install, DC is preloaded with a feed for DC tips/tricks. My intention was to do what you are suggesting about a description of the UI flow there. I do need to add the post for it though.

Thanks again for the feedback.