Decluttering/rejigging the top menu a little

Arantor

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Decluttering/rejigging the top menu a little
« on July 12th, 2013, 09:24 AM »
Suggestion, sort of sparked by something Antechinus said on Elk: bringing the profile and PM stuff under one heading...

How about we bring a new top level menu item into play, whose top level heading is the user's own display name? Under it would be the profile stuff, plus the PM stuff and if we wanted to go really crazy we could put the notifications thing there too. Or bring it all together under the notifications popup.

This has a lot of interesting implications that all tie together - I guess the comment I made about the menu bar being hidden on mobile fell into the ether.

So, let's back up. If you're on mobile, you won't see the menu bar because it'll be in the sidebar and most people won't check that because that's how most people are. If they can't see it, they won't check it most of the time simply because if it's not there, it's not relevant to them.[1] And so people who predominantly use mobile won't see that they have personal messages.

Solution 1: send a notification about PMs. It reduces the priority of having messages in the top level menu, there's simply less burning need to have them up there (though I'm not saying they have to go, but they do get to lose some of their otherwise premium status)

Solution 2: pull profile and PMs out of the menu. Pull them up by the notifications area. Maybe even give PMs a similar interface to the notifications one for showing the inbox, and a similar set of controls for configuration and sending a new message. We can also refit the access-to-own-profile from there and make it easier for people to get to their own configurable items. I'm thinking this would ultimately be in line with overhauling the profile anyway.

Solution 2 means we get to separate the profile and messages items which don't really fit in the menu anyway if you stop and think about it, they're just there because there isn't anywhere else for them and it means we have less need to pull the menu out of page layout in mobile because there's less of it and it means what gets up there can be more meaningful to the *site*.

Consider: you get to show: Home, Admin, Media, Members, Logout. (We could even move the login/out options up there, too) Unlike the profile and so on which relate to YOU, these things relate to the SITE. To me this just makes more sense to have as principle navigation. We can still do PMs-getting-notifications and in fact probably should convert it to that if feasible[2] and that would also solve some issues WRT navigation if the menu bar is going to be hidden. (And we get to streamline preferences for PMs, potentially, if not. I dunno. I just think it'd be a nice way to tackle it.)

Pulling this stuff off the menu also means that we don't do weird things like highlighting the profile tab when you're not viewing your own profile which seems semi logical a thing to do but it's also not really so logical when you stop to think about it. The button is highlighted even though you're not actually *there*, on the place you'd be if you'd pressed the button yourself.


As a follow-on to this, I'd consider putting a 'What's new' option or similar on the menu in their place. I'm not sure whether that would be pulling in Unread Posts or Unread Replies or both in some fashion but I'd certainly bring them out of the sidebar to that point.

At this point I'm mindful that the sidebar is increasingly for 'less important content' in which case I'm trying to discourage major navigational items from being hidden - unread posts/unread replies is useful navigation, if not quite as 'major' as perhaps it might be. But if it were on the top level menu, that makes things a bit different.[3]

And now, just because it's that point in time, I'm going to invoke the devil just to reinforce my point.

(click to show/hide)
XenForo does this. IPB does this. Facebook does this. They do essentially what I'm proposing because of the reasons I'm proposing them: you pull stuff that isn't about the site out of the place where site content navigation is and you pull them together. Alerts/notifications and your profile and so on should be out of the way of site content precisely because they're not site content. They're your content and only directly have relevance to you, not to everyone. So they don't belong in the navigation that everyone has.

There is a larger argument here. I'm not advocating copying the competition. I'm advocating taking the same path they did for the same reason they did. Because form follows function. The profile and PM functions are not site content. They shouldn't be with site navigation. If that includes log in/log out navigation too, fine. Just get them the hell out of the main menu because they don't belong there. Make site navigation for the site content, not the user content. Pull that stuff out the way into the top of the page where users will always have access to it (much as they already do, except currently on mobile), we have the room, we already have UI/UX precedent for it with notifications (implicitly a USER function not a SITE function) and language selection (which is totally a user function anyway) up there, let's finish it up with making it consistent.

If it makes you feel any better you can safely ignore the spoiler above and let the arguments stand on their merit. But if you can tolerate my pointing out what the competition does and why they do it and why we should follow a similar path, read it.


@Nao: Random question. I was going to use footnotes in the above spoiler tag but then I realised that footnotes will be pulled out of the spoiler and into the footer list along with the rest. Should footnotes adhere to the same parenting like they do with quotes (i.e. staying inside the quote they were made in?) or have their current behaviour?
 1. This is a killer reason why auto hiding the sidebar is actually a bad idea and if you remember it was the key reason I didn't want the notifications in the sidebar, because being at the bottom means people aren't going to see it. The same argument can and should be made for the principle cross-site navigation: if it's hidden by default, it's a butt ache to navigate around.
 2. Though I'm mindful of the consequences of this in terms of the code if you have PMs going to a bunch of people at once, especially if that's going to include announcements having the same code path. @Dragooon, what are your thoughts on this? How sane/insane is it to try and generate a large number of notifications for large numbers of users at a time? I know in the newsletter code we already have the continue/not-done code so we can stage it a bit better, but I'd rather not generate several queries for each notification if at all possible. But I don't remember how that part works.
 3. See, then, if we kill those two items from the sidebar, we might as well remove the avatar from there too. Time too while we're at it. These things are simply not that useful, doubly so on a sidebar that only some users will even see anyway.
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Nao

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Re: Decluttering/rejigging the top menu a little
« Reply #1, on July 12th, 2013, 04:46 PM »
Or you can just revert the responsive sidebar to the dull one, if you're so insistent that you don't like my new ones...
(Even then, the menu being moved to the sidebar is due to a usability concern of mine -- menus are close to unusable in mobile devices, while the new one IS, and I'm happy with that. Of course we'll need to move the Admin and PM numbers outside of it at some point, but it's not a priority for me. I'm still fighting to get the sidebar to behave everywhere...)

Rest of the post = TL;DR for now.

Re: footnotes, I thought they already behave like that for any block type or something..?

Arantor

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Re: Decluttering/rejigging the top menu a little
« Reply #2, on July 12th, 2013, 05:45 PM »
Quote
Or you can just revert the responsive sidebar to the dull one, if you're so insistent that you don't like my new ones...
Well done for missing the point. What you've done is cool but it has some problems for usability - most importantly that people who are used to seeing it are going to go 'hey where'd it go?' when for whatever reason it's not visible. The problem with the 3 bar icon is that it doesn't have a universal meaning - iOS folks will take it as meaning 'reorderable', Chrome folks will tend to associate it a bit more with settings (even if it isn't so much as it was before, now it has a bunch of other stuff in it that I never use... :P) though Android users will typically associate it with a menu so on that front it is mostly a win of sorts. And to a point most of the people on desktop will usually see the sidebar anyway because they'll have big windows with it anyway, so this really is about catering to the mobile crowd, which is fine.
Quote
Rest of the post = TL;DR for now.
That's a bit of a shame, because had you read it you'd have noticed that it's specifically arguing to make the main menu two or three items shorter, with the first two having multiple items in it. So moving the menu to the sidebar is simply less of a problem in that case... especially as they're items that people will actually want to get to, which right now are somewhat neutered in effectiveness by being in the sidebar...
Quote
Re: footnotes, I thought they already behave like that for any block type or something..?
They do for quotes (as in remaining inside the quote)... but they don't for spoilers, which is the point I'm making.

* Arantor stops trying to convey the essence of what he was trying to say, has a site to finish building, laters.

spoogs

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Re: Decluttering/rejigging the top menu a little
« Reply #3, on July 13th, 2013, 07:57 AM »
I'm sold, I've always wanted to do something of the sort then again it's easy to sell me on cleaning up the menu.

Logout button, tho many would argue it's a matters of convenience to have it in the menu, I never liked it there. I like it being buried away a little such as it is when logging out of your email or facebook or whatever.

I always wondered why pm's needed to be so prominent in the menu as well. The profile button I would have called account or my account or whatever and indeed have the pm stuff there and have logout as the last option.

If they can be neatly placed elsewhere outside the menu, I can be easily sold on that as well, otherwise stick it all under profile or whatever u want to call it and have the number of new pm's shown similar to the error log counter if it has to stay in the menu.
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Arantor

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Re: Decluttering/rejigging the top menu a little
« Reply #4, on July 13th, 2013, 08:09 AM »
I think I should do a mockup of how I think it should look, that would probably help a great deal. Certainly better than the fart-arsing I've been doing all day! (And the code's still buggy with a bug I can't fix without reorganising a vast amount of code which I really don't have time for right now, bah!)
Re: Decluttering/rejigging the top menu a little
« Reply #5, on July 13th, 2013, 08:57 AM »
Something like this but prettier. Your inbox would be available in a dropdown like the notifications stuff is. Don't know about the profile area. It's late, I've been crunching a lot of code today and my brain hurts (and I'm supposed to be sleeping as we're supposed to be off in like 4 hours time and I'm not 100% packed yet!)

I'd encourage Logout be moved up there too but short of putting it under the user's name, I didn't know where to put it. Avatar is optional.

I'm thinking in mobile mode we might actually have them running vertically rather than horizontally.

 upper_area_mockup.png - 43.33 kB, 617x356, viewed 160 times.


Dragooon

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Re: Decluttering/rejigging the top menu a little
« Reply #6, on July 13th, 2013, 11:46 AM »
Quote from Arantor on July 12th, 2013, 09:24 AM
Consider: you get to show: Home, Admin, Media, Members, Logout. (We could even move the login/out options up there, too) Unlike the profile and so on which relate to YOU, these things relate to the SITE. To me this just makes more sense to have as principle navigation. We can still do PMs-getting-notifications and in fact probably should convert it to that if feasible[1] and that would also solve some issues WRT navigation if the menu bar is going to be hidden. (And we get to streamline preferences for PMs, potentially, if not. I dunno. I just think it'd be a nice way to tackle it.)
 1. Though I'm mindful of the consequences of this in terms of the code if you have PMs going to a bunch of people at once, especially if that's going to include announcements having the same code path. @Dragooon, what are your thoughts on this? How sane/insane is it to try and generate a large number of notifications for large numbers of users at a time? I know in the newsletter code we already have the continue/not-done code so we can stage it a bit better, but I'd rather not generate several queries for each notification if at all possible. But I don't remember how that part works.
@Arantor: Every additional member per single PM notification will add another INSERT, I think that should be it last time I checked. All the information as such from the members table is fetched all at once in a single query (and it's fast query only on one table) plus an additional UPDATE to update the notification counter. We can do a stop/resume code I guess, or maybe just make it a scheduled task.
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Arantor

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Re: Decluttering/rejigging the top menu a little
« Reply #7, on July 13th, 2013, 12:53 PM »
Hmm. That could get quite expensive... is there not a way we can combine the inserts together? Or perhaps have a situation where the notifications system can be told not to do it and let the calling context manage it for bulk cases? (For newsletters, there's already stop/resume code, adding more to that is not a huge issue)

spoogs

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Re: Decluttering/rejigging the top menu a little
« Reply #8, on July 13th, 2013, 10:33 PM »
That looks sane enough, I see where you're going with it. Since users' profile name will represent their account settings yup i agree thats where logout should live. And on guest view since they do not have a profile all they get to see is login/register.

Arantor

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