If you’re an administrator on a Nosco platform, chances are that you are managing thousands of ideas on a daily basis. For that you need a good overview and a seamless way to browse ideas.
Originally, we showed normal users and administrators a simple list of ideas. You would then be able to filter this list according to your preferences. Users would then click to open an idea on a new page, read it, tag it, and work with it. Usually, they would then want to go back to the list. In this case, you would have not only have lost the position you scrolled to on the list, but the filter you applied would also be gone as we had no way of maintaining such a state.
Now, imagine how super annoying it would be if you had made a carefully filtered list of the ideas you wanted to work with and lost it. That’s why users would open the ideas in a new tab to keep the list exactly as they wanted. This would work, but the amount of tabs would quickly become overwhelming and confusing.
At the time when we wanted to address this issue, we also had a major refactoring of the backend code going on. But I wanted to see if we could design our way out of this using only the frontend —thus still be able to deliver value to the product and users while the backend refactoring went on.
With backend code out of the equation, this obviously limited our solutions, but after numerous tests and feedback loops, we ended up with a simple, yet smart and straight-forward experience that works especially well on handheld devices too: The Idea Window.
Ideas now open in a large window on top of the idea list. You can quickly return to your position on the list by closing the window. You can also move to the previous or next idea simply by pressing the left and right arrow keys.
The list will automatically scroll along in the background as you browse through the ideas in the Idea Window. When you close the window, the list will be at the location on the page where the last opened idea is located.
I think this is a nice and simple solution to a common problem among many list-heavy apps and sites. Others have implemented advanced cache mechanisms and other more advanced solutions. But our Idea Window is really easy to use and light-weight in terms of performance.
This is one of my favourite cases that demonstrates how well thought-through design can deliver a lot of value to a product and the users, and that cool features doesn’t have to rely on really advanced code. It’s also a great example of how constraints shape a design.
The feedback on the new way of browsing ideas has been good, and users who need to go through a lot of ideas are really appreciating this feature, as it provides them with a better overview and saves them a lot of time. People actually forget that there is still a static page for an idea if you prefer to open the idea in a new tab or are sent to the idea via a link.
There are several things that I’d like to optimise now that we have had the Idea Window for a while. Loading speed (think Facebook’s Instant Articles), swiping swiftly through the ideas, transitions and micro interactions are all areas that could improve the user experience of the Idea Window.
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