Usability Recommendations

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This page contains usability recommendations created by Cmchap during the 2011-12 usability tests of Dryad's web interface.


All Pages

  • Create some way to indicate external links (e.g. the video labeled "See how to submit" on the home page). It may be disconcerting to a user to be taken away from the website they expected to be on without notice.
  • Make all directions unique to any page significantly larger than other directions (e.g. " Please describe the publication only." on the Describe Publication page).
  • On the left bar, consider changing "Information" to "Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about: " so as not to confuse users into thinking they can access data from the links below.

Individual pages

Home Page

  • On low-resolution screens, the "Recent Posts from the Dryad Blog" element is displayed above the Dryad description. This may be confusing to a first-time user.
  • The Data links at the bottom are 100% linked text, so there is no non-link text to contrast. Users may not know whether or not these are links until they mouse over them (and get an underline).
  • clearer language around functions
  • what do you want to do? -- three boxes for audience/function: submitter, user, learn more
    • each box would lead user to the tailored stuff they need, but the same info would be accessible anywhere on the site
  • standard vocabulary for depositors or submitters etc?
  • sparse design, brief phrases and scanability
  • use colors to indicate gravitas
    • not too modern, subtle patterns & colors to convey seriousness (See rice paper2 on
    • avoid red/green issues
  • warn people that the link to documentation/wiki is an external site
  • no need for login on homepage
  • on menu, FAQ's are not recognized as such -- change labels

Submit New Content Page

  • Why are the 3 steps in a different color? They may look like a "previously clicked" link to some users.
  • Reference the embedded video in the text.
  • If a user only clicks the "I understand that..." radio box, then clicks "Next>", is there supposed to be some kind of warning, error message, or graceful failure mode?

Describe Publication Page

  • Use the greyed-out, pre-populated text fields (e.g. "UNKNOWN_TYPE" in the "Year" field) to better convey the format of the desired text to be entered (e.g. "YYYY" in the year field). This information could also be added to the mouse-over text. ( I had changed some advanced settings in Chrome to produce this problem.)
  • If there are maximum character limits, those should be indicated for each field.
  • There are two mouse-over texts on each entry field. One is the default alt text. ( I had changed some advanced settings in Chrome to produce this problem.)
  • Mouse-over text should never extend beyond the viewable window, regardless of screen resolution or window size.
  • It is unclear whether a user may simply click the "Continue to describe data file" button at the bottom to submit the form's data or if one must click the "Add" button next to each field for the input to be saved. The lack of clarity exists concerning the radio button that appears next to the newly added item after one clicks the "Add" button.
  • Under "Primary contact for data associated with this article:", what happens if the primary contact is not an author?
  • Is there a character limit to the abstract field? It may be so high as to be irrelevant, but if not, it should be stated.
  • "Embargo" hover text has break tags visible.

Submissions & workflow tasks Page

  • The "Remove selected submissions" button is not large enough to accommodate all of the text.

Data Package Pages

  • citations must be prominent
  • downloadable file list needs to be more visible
    • need to be able to download files and see them listed, with their stats
  • truncate abstract after a few lines ?
  • large "download this data package" button -- prominent and higher on the page; next to it: data and article citations

Recommendations from Sam Kome

These are mostly aimed at making the curation process more efficient....

  1. Reduce task switching through:
    1. Automation of information gathering from emails.
      1. Mac mail and Gmail are both used to check (essentially the same) messages for different contexts.
      2. Optimally, neither would be needed, all work could be done through Dryad UI, and much more could be done full auto
      3. Which would enhance curator focus on spot checking and fine-tuning, e.g. mitochondria:=scientific name or not
    2. In-browser handling of payload files, or tools to manage these on server/client.
      1. Current file management practice requires additional desktop hygiene step e.g. text and spreadsheet payloads are saved to desktop, scanned for structure, semantic value. e.g. README, saved to desktop
      2. Can be a lot of files within and between projects. Creates a data hygiene task and error opportunities
    3. Google Apps spreadsheet
      1. manual copy/paste for reporting. Much of this can be automated. E.g. manually copies title from RSS view
    4. Automation of publication status check.
    5. Reduce/Enhance Dryad web views: In Dryad, numerous tabs opened.
      1. Review (curator) tab titles for succinctness and accuracy.
    6. Provide In-Context Search
      1. Curator performs frequent (open web) searches, relies on manual copy/paste e.g. title searches: provide (js) in-context search?
  2. Reduce Error Potentials by:
    1. Automation of information gathering from emails.
    2. Automate creation and population of metadata fields for common tasks (readme files).
    3. Non-integrated journals: Should not see option to make data immediately available
    4. Automate reporting as far as possible, e.g. copy info from RSS for report.
    5. Automate and account for payload file management
    6. Automate payload file scanning (JOVE, etc)
    7. Automate publication status check
    8. First letter capitalization
      1. Use HIVE for this?
    9. Error/Effort: Scientific name capture
    10. New field creation, e.g.
      1. Semantic analysis
      2. Tag order is significant and hard to change
    11. Metadata form elements: increase default size
    12. Left align buttons and align as group (picky but effective)
    13. Right align input element labels (picky but effective)
  3. Reduce Effort by:
    1. Automate file handling tasks, e.g. unpack zipped (csv) files
    2. Search title/ for DOI/clues to publication status
    3. Metadata augmentation could be a new status, e.g. "HIVE'd" (especially in multi-curator environment)
    4. Leave a note when leaving rather than taking? Have it show on brief display (multi-curator)
    5. Automate ReadMe ingest: For each Readme manually adds description: 'dc_readme'