[Strategic] Action: Test front page with moved search form
mikel_maron at yahoo.com
Fri May 27 14:21:37 BST 2011
One good thing about this code experiment is it illustrates how inter-related
all the elements of the front page are. It's nearly impossible to modify one
thing in isolation.
I found this article to be helpful in thinking about how to approach design.
Perhaps a rough guideline?
Step 4, a UI inventory, could be helpful with the work Dermot is doing. Step 1-3
is something we've circled around in discussion, and would be useful to define a
== Mikel Maron ==
+14152835207 @mikel s:mikelmaron
From: Dermot McNally <dermotm at gmail.com>
To: Tom Hughes <tom at compton.nu>
Cc: "strategic at openstreetmap.org" <strategic at openstreetmap.org>
Sent: Fri, May 27, 2011 6:20:10 AM
Subject: Re: [Strategic] Action: Test front page with moved search form
On Friday, 27 May 2011, Tom Hughes <tom at compton.nu> wrote:
> On 26/05/11 23:00, Dermot McNally wrote:
> As much as I love the fact that you have JFDI and as much as I hate having to
>write this mail, all I can say is that overlaying it on the map like that sucks
>massive boulders through teeny weeny straws.
Well, let me start by saying that I won't take personally any negative
comment about the results of this crude hack. Its single purpose was
to demonstrate how a location change of the search box would look and
feel and you'll see that my original email points out many problems
that result from the change, some of which you go on to mention. I am
specifically not calling for this code to be put into production,
because even if you ignore the issues of how the search form overlays
the map, there are still too many open questions that would need
The coding was done as an action arising out of last week's SWG
meeting, since it was felt, correctly, I think, that sometimes it
helps to try things out to inject some energy into an otherwise
theoretical process. Some of you have suggested that SWG may not be
the place for JFDI and that's OK too, because I'm not that fussy under
what banner I hack code that seems to need hacking. Sometimes we write
code so we can rub our chins and ponder on whether it seems to be a
positive step - in which case it can be unfinished like this work.
Other times we code something to completion to solve an actual
problem, we want the changes committed and have to measure up to
whatever reasonable process is in place to manage what goes live.
But I'd like to explore the issue of what-is-strategic for a minute,
because there is a danger that we will tie ourselves up in
bureaucracy. Some development work is such that you can do the work,
request that it go live and feel reasonably confident that you are not
proposing a heresy. One that springs to mind is the missing diary link
on diary entries. It's a small usablity feature, it's the kind of
thing that probably nobody has strong views against and it certainly
isn't strategic. A mapper who wants it done shouldn't put it on the
SWG agenda, he should JFDI.
But the placement of the search form isn't like that. You don't want
to go moving something like that around without consulting people. And
even if your idea is good, why would you go to the effort of coding it
if you expect that plenty of the people will react negatively or at
least cautiously? Even the diary link will attract some level of
bikeshedding, but important changes really can benefit from some level
of planning and discussion. And sometimes part of that discussion will
involve trying things out.
> It doesn't even solve one of the major issues that people always complain
>about, that the search box is too small, and I don't see how it could without
>obscuring even more of the map.
I've mentioned that I am not convinced of the merit of overlaying the
map. My feeling, and I intend to try this out, is that the search form
belongs more or less where the login links are now, an approach that
would allow a wider search field. This is going to be a delicate one,
because the login links are both important and established in that
location, and that's more or less the main reason I wimped out of
going directly to such a layout. I think if you're going to propose
displacing those links you need to be proposing what should become of
them too. I need more sleep before I can do that.
> Equally I think it would only really look right if we overlaid the results on
>the map as well, but the usability of that is just horrendous as people want to
>be able to see the map while they are looking at the results.
I think the big issue with the search returns is that I left them over
the left side, miles away from the search criteria the user entered
and might need to further refine. Removing overlaying from the picture
(because you certainly can't obscure the map with the results), it
would be possible to relocate the sidebar to the right, but I think
the result of that would be ugly. One solution is to have a full-width
search form between tabs and map, as per some of the mockups we've
seen. I know this approach has its critics, but it does allow for the
search returns to stay where they are in a way that still feels
> To be honest, there's probably a reason why no other map site that I'm aware of
>overlays the search over the map like that ;-)
Very likely. Most don't have a mysterious plus sign as a
layer-switcher either. For me, the exercise has been very worthwhile,
because it creates as many questions as it does answers. And as long
as the current placement of the search form is imperfect (which I
think it is) we need to understand as much as we can about the
alternatives we have.
I'll continue to hack on ideas for how search could work. If I'm
lucky, I'll come up with a version that solves all or most of our
problems. Otherwise somebody else will. But it'll only happen if we
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