November 9, 2013

Give your users feedback

When you ask your users to perform a task you should make it as easy as possible for them to do so by giving them real-time feedback. For example, users can submit links to Trejdify through a form that looks like this:


This is what the user sees when the user hasn't signed in. The user gets feedback in the form of the red sign that says the user has to sign in and the form is also "closed" so the user can't write anything or click the button by accident. If the user has signed in, the form looks like this:


The important part here is the preview link at the bottom that updates automatically as the user types in the name of the link and the url of the link. I added it after I realized that users submitted link with strange characters that turned into signs like �. To minimize the damage even more, I added to the Guidelines section that if "strange characters" appears, the user has to change them. Did it work? No it didn't. Users are still submitting links that include these strange characters! But I've hopefully minimized the damage. The other important part of the form is the upper-right corner that looks like this:


The maximum numbers of characters in the title is 150, so I added this feedback so the user knows exactly how many characters he/she can write. This is a problem I've had over at Hacker News, which is a site similar to Trejdify. I've often written a great title, submitted it, and got the feedback from Hacker News that the title was too long. The problem now is that I don't know how many characters I have without having to counting them one by one. So this little gray square with a number in it and a few lines of JavaScript really simplifies the process. This is an image of Hacker News's submit page without any feedback:

    

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