Season of Usability: Protocol of IRC chat on multi-protocol usability


#1

Hi Emil, hi dev-list,

Mike Oren and I discussed Mike's report on multi-protocol features in different IM apps (linked to from [1]) on IRC today.
We also discussed possible features, UI requirements, etc. If you have too much time, you can read the chat transscript below.
We are currently designing a questionnaire which we want to send to SIP-Communicator users and probably also to users of other multi-protocol IM apps (e.g. Kopete, Adium, Trillian). Our main interest is which protocols the users actually use, which protocols their friends use, and which features they use (IM, voice chat, file transfer, status message).

Do you
a) know how to reach as many SIP-Communicator users as possible (without annoying them)?
b) have existing knowledge of your user base and their requirements?
c) have specific questions you would like us to ask in the questionnaire?

Thanks,

Raphael

[1] http://www.sip-communicator.org/index.php/Development/ImproveUsability

···

==========================================

17:47 Joining chat room…
17:48 Started talking in sip-communicator on Saturday 06/28/2008 05:48:11 PM
    Room topic is: Forum for the SIP Communicator project, the OpenSource Java VoIP and Instant Messaging client. Visit http://sip-communicator.org for details.
17:50 raphman_2 Hi. We'll be hijacking the channel for the next hour to discuss usability issues with SIP-Communicators multi-protocol support.
  raphman_2 See http://www.sip-communicator.org/index.php/Development/ImproveUsability
17:56 -> moren has joined sip-communicator
  raphman_2 Hi Mike
  moren Hi Raphael. My connection is flakey this morning, so if I leave suddenly I'll try to get back on as quickly as possible.
17:57 raphman_2 ok
  raphman_2 I'll be ready in 5 minutes
  moren ok
18:05 raphman_2 Ok. I'm ready
18:06 raphman_2 I've read your report.
  raphman_2 Looks nice.
  moren Thanks, and I hope it covered everything we talked about
18:07 raphman_2 I think so.
  raphman_2 For me it looks like there is no general way of handling multiple accounts across the different apps.
18:08 moren Yeah, most of the ones didn't seem to deal with that at all and the ones that did were just right-click contextual menus
  moren And Kopete had the chat menu in the chat window with those options as well
  raphman_2 I think we have two topics today:
18:09 raphman_2 * discuss general, preliminary ideas for improving multi-protocol/-account handling
  raphman_2 * discuss the upcoming user study/questionnaire
18:10 raphman_2 correct? anything else?
  moren That sounds right
18:11 raphman_2 Okay.
18:12 raphman_2 Did you see any obvious improvements?
  raphman_2 (or issues=
  raphman_2 )
  moren I think Kopete adding options outside of the contact list contextual menu was along the right lines
18:13 moren But I think some of those options that are common among multiple protocols should be on the toolbar and made inactive when appropriate
  moren It would be nice to put some of the protocol specific options on the toolbar and dynamically change the toolbar for different protocols
  moren but that would probably cause confusion
18:14 raphman_2 that might be
  raphman_2 Do we have a list of common options/features of the different protocols?
  moren However, I think it would be ok to rename the menu with protocol-specific options to the protocol name
  moren so an AIM chat would have an AIM menu with AIM-specific options
18:15 raphman_2 Ah: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_instant_messaging_protocols
  moren voice chat is supported by the 4 largest protocols, but not by all clients people use to access it
  moren yeah, I found that but it didn't seem to cover the protocol features
  moren just things like how many contacts they support and such
18:16 moren tech specs, mostly
  raphman_2 I think such a list would be very important.
  raphman_2 1. for deciding which features to put in common menus
18:17 raphman_2 2. for designing the questionnaire
18:18 raphman_2 Could you compose such a list?
    CHART Unknown command
  raphman_2 or comparison chart
  moren I agree with that. I'm kind of surprised there wasn't a good list for that. I can make one though, it should be pretty easy just looking at some of the protocol's web sites
  raphman_2 yeah
18:19 moren It'll probably be best to have as a chart/table
  moren It'll be easier to see what everything supports and to find the common features
18:20 moren Do you want me to do that for all protocols that SIP-Communicator currently supports?
  moren or should I focus on a few of the major ones?
18:22 raphman_2 hmm,
  raphman_2 the more, the better
  moren ok
18:23 raphman_2 I think ssh, rss, Bonjour, and dict are not _that_ important
  moren I have a revised version of a journal article due Tuesday, so let's say Wed. for getting that up and posting a link to the wiki?
18:24 raphman_2 great.
18:25 raphman_2 should we postpone our discussion of the questionnaire to Thursday-Saturday?
  raphman_2 having such a list would make it more efficient
18:26 moren Yeah, we would probably need to revise the survey a lot after we get that list
  moren the list should help focus the questions a bit more
  raphman_2 Ok.
18:27 raphman_2 I think there are three kinds of users we should care about when designing the UI
  raphman_2 :
18:28 raphman_2 users having
  raphman_2 1. only contacts which are using the same protocol
  raphman_2 2. contacts using exactly one protocol. Different contacts my use different protocols
  raphman_2 3. some contacts using multiple protocols
  raphman_2 anyone else?
18:29 moren Do we want to focus at all on those with SIP/VoIP as a primary interest?
  raphman_2 that's the question
18:30 raphman_2 what do you mean by "primary interest"?
18:31 moren Using VoIP/SIP more than they would use IM, I guess
18:32 raphman_2 hmm...
  raphman_2 what do you think?
18:33 moren I think it might be useful, but at the same time I think that might get away from the primary focus of multi-protocol usage with this study
18:34 raphman_2 as VoIP is a primary focus of SIP-Communicator, we should not completely neglect it.
  moren yeah, that's why I was thinking we might want to put some focus into it. I'm just not sure how it fits into the current scope, i guess
18:35 raphman_2 However, we should learn more about SIP-Communicator's user base - e.g. how many use SIP, how many use SIP to other SIP-phones, etc.
  raphman_2 afaik SIP does not offer out-of-band IM features
18:36 raphman_2 thus, anyone using SIP-to-SIP communication might need IM functions
18:37 raphman_2 e.g. you might do a fail-ove from VoIP to IM if the connection speed drops
  raphman_2 fail-over.
  moren yeah, that sounds reasonable
18:38 raphman_2 one other nice feature I just thought of would be an IM-to-SMS gateway
18:39 raphman_2 So you could send som URL to someone's mobile phone.
  raphman_2 thus, you would have some IM functionality even when using VoIP to a mobile phone
18:40 moren Yeah, Gizmo (and I think) Wengo supported IM-to-SMS
  raphman_2 so, I think there are some ways somone using only VoIP might need/want IM
18:41 moren yeah, and we should probably have questions related to that in the survey
  raphman_2 yes.
  raphman_2 I'll ask Emil what they know about their user base already.
18:42 moren is any of that in the user personas that were made last summer?
18:43 raphman_2 Emil sent the personae to me but I can't find this document anymore.
  raphman_2
18:44 raphman_2 ah, found it
18:45 raphman_2 oh, no.
  raphman_2 wrong file
  raphman_2 the personae were not very complete, IIRC
  moren ah, ok
18:46 moren if you find it, then can you send it to me? It isn't a big deal if you can't, but it might save us from asking some questions on the survey.
18:47 raphman_2 IIRC the personae were only based on the documents that are linked from the Wiki page
18:48 raphman_2 I think the main goal when designing a multi-protocol UI will be to piss off noone
  raphman_2 e.g. the "only one protocol ever" group
18:49 raphman_2 because I think that those who are really using multiple protocols in parallel are not that many
  moren I think that's another thing that would be good to find out in the survey
18:50 raphman_2 yes. let's discuss the survey next time.
  raphman_2 Waht's you time limit?
  moren I don't know enough about that, myself. I know I used to use multiple protocols all of the time, but then I got tired of chatting online so now I mostly just use AIM and GoogleTalk and just talk to a small handful of people
18:51 moren next week my schedule is pretty open other than Friday I might be busy with the American holiday
  raphman_2
18:52 raphman_2 what's your time limit today?
  raphman_2 I have one or two small topics left...
  moren and I could even do Friday morning (about this same time)
  moren oh, right now, I have time
  moren it's the weekend and no big plans for today
18:54 raphman_2 we could do a quick brainstorm session: How can multi-protocol-features be integrated in the GUI other than cascading right-click menus?
  raphman_2 * expanding a contact into multiple sub-contacts when clicked
18:56 moren I think having a protocol menu within the chat window would be good, or maybe a drop down menu in the tool bar with an icon for the protocol
  raphman_2 * only show features (e.g. as icons) which are common to all protocols, hiding the protocol-specific functions behind protocol icons
  moren although with both of those I think a lot of people are still going to not easily find the features
  moren yeah, that's what I was thinking
18:57 <- Mezz has disconnected ("CGI:IRC (EOF)")
  raphman_2 * bad way: show all functions, show an error message if the currently used protocol does not support it.
18:58 moren yeah, I think we need to minimize the error messages as much as possible
  moren that’s how a lot of them currently do it
  raphman_2 agreed
18:59 raphman_2 fail-over, i.e. switching to an other supported protocol if the currently used protocol does not offer a certain feature.
  raphman_2 like transfering files while using VoIP
19:00 moren Yeah, I think that would be a pretty awesome feature, that should be pretty simple
19:01 raphman_2 another thought: maybe using e-mail as the ultimate fail-over.
  moren and no other client supports that
  raphman_2 for sending a file, or even for sending text messages
  moren yeah, a lot of protocols do that on their own now (or off-line messages), but no multi-protocol client supports it (although some support offline messages)
  raphman_2 should be optional. though.
19:02 moren Yeah, I think they would need to check a box and/or enter an e-mail address for that feature either during setup or after setup in the options
  raphman_2 I didn't know there are IM apps which can send e-mail. Could you name one?
19:05 moren GoogleTalk
  moren it sends an e-mail (of sorts)
  moren Yahoo!, I think will send an e-mail with an offline message as well
19:06 moren or has an option
  moren not sure about that, it's been awhile since I've used Yahoo! mail
19:07 raphman_2 btw: I think there are two kinds of cross-protocol features: those that can use the same parameters for all protocols (e.g. Away/Online/Offline-Status) and those that require different parameters for the different protocols (e.g. changing your nick is offered by all protocols, but you don't necessarily change your nick for all protocols at once)
19:08 raphman_2 you cannot handle them the same way in the UI
19:10 raphman_2 I think I have to leave soon.
  moren yeah, that's a good caveat to keep in mind
19:11 moren ok, we can talk about the rest when we discuss the survey
19:12 raphman_2 Is Thursday morning (your time, evening for me) ok?
  moren Yeah, that should work perfectly
19:13 raphman_2 great
  raphman_2 I'll send time&date to you and Emil.
19:14 raphman_2 I'll also send a the chat protocol to the devel mailing list
  moren ok, and I'll send out the table on multi-protocol features on Wed. sometime
  moren it may come late on Wed., but it'll be there (hopefully it will be earlier in the day)
19:15 raphman_2 please document our discussion in the wiki (just a short copy&paste of the issues we discussed).


#2

Hey Raphael,

Raphael Wimmer написа:

Hi Emil, hi dev-list,

Mike Oren and I discussed Mike's report on multi-protocol features in
different IM apps (linked to from [1]) on IRC today.
We also discussed possible features, UI requirements, etc. If you have too
much time, you can read the chat transscript below.
We are currently designing a questionnaire which we want to send to
SIP-Communicator users and probably also to users of other multi-protocol
IM apps (e.g. Kopete, Adium, Trillian). Our main interest is which
protocols the users actually use, which protocols their friends use, and
which features they use (IM, voice chat, file transfer, status message).

Great idea!

Do you
a) know how to reach as many SIP-Communicator users as possible (without
annoying them)?

We can add links from our home, download, and news pages and we can also
send out an invitation mail on all our mailing lists.

b) have existing knowledge of your user base and their requirements?

Absolutely none I am afraid.

c) have specific questions you would like us to ask in the questionnaire?

There is one thing that recently came up in a discussion with someone
that we are currently working with. It's about the "account" term that
we use quite frequently. Feedback that we've had is that many people
(especially native English speakers) associate an account with a bank
and any other use is confusing to them. I've seen other clients use
terms such as "connection", "identity", "profile", "protocol", "IM", and
of course - "account". Would be curious to know what people understand best.

Other than that I think that most of the questions I personally would
have would probably be in your list too so I might want to add some more
after seeing its first version.

Great idea once again!

Cheers
Emil

···

Thanks,

Raphael

[1] http://www.sip-communicator.org/index.php/Development/ImproveUsability

==========================================

17:47 Joining chat room…
17:48 Started talking in sip-communicator on Saturday 06/28/2008 05:48:11
PM
    Room topic is: Forum for the SIP Communicator project, the OpenSource
Java VoIP and Instant Messaging client. Visit http://sip-communicator.org
for details.
17:50 raphman_2 Hi. We'll be hijacking the channel for the next hour to
discuss usability issues with SIP-Communicators multi-protocol support.
  raphman_2 See
http://www.sip-communicator.org/index.php/Development/ImproveUsability
17:56 -> moren has joined sip-communicator
  raphman_2 Hi Mike
  moren Hi Raphael. My connection is flakey this morning, so if I leave
suddenly I'll try to get back on as quickly as possible.
17:57 raphman_2 ok
  raphman_2 I'll be ready in 5 minutes
  moren ok
18:05 raphman_2 Ok. I'm ready
18:06 raphman_2 I've read your report.
  raphman_2 Looks nice.
  moren Thanks, and I hope it covered everything we talked about
18:07 raphman_2 I think so.
  raphman_2 For me it looks like there is no general way of handling
multiple accounts across the different apps.
18:08 moren Yeah, most of the ones didn't seem to deal with that at all
and the ones that did were just right-click contextual menus
  moren And Kopete had the chat menu in the chat window with those options
as well
  raphman_2 I think we have two topics today:
18:09 raphman_2 * discuss general, preliminary ideas for improving
multi-protocol/-account handling
  raphman_2 * discuss the upcoming user study/questionnaire
18:10 raphman_2 correct? anything else?
  moren That sounds right
18:11 raphman_2 Okay.
18:12 raphman_2 Did you see any obvious improvements?
  raphman_2 (or issues=
  raphman_2 )
  moren I think Kopete adding options outside of the contact list
contextual menu was along the right lines
18:13 moren But I think some of those options that are common among
multiple protocols should be on the toolbar and made inactive when
appropriate
  moren It would be nice to put some of the protocol specific options on
the toolbar and dynamically change the toolbar for different protocols
  moren but that would probably cause confusion
18:14 raphman_2 that might be
  raphman_2 Do we have a list of common options/features of the different
protocols?
  moren However, I think it would be ok to rename the menu with
protocol-specific options to the protocol name
  moren so an AIM chat would have an AIM menu with AIM-specific options
18:15 raphman_2 Ah:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_instant_messaging_protocols
  moren voice chat is supported by the 4 largest protocols, but not by all
clients people use to access it
  moren yeah, I found that but it didn't seem to cover the protocol features
  moren just things like how many contacts they support and such
18:16 moren tech specs, mostly
  raphman_2 I think such a list would be very important.
  raphman_2 1. for deciding which features to put in common menus
18:17 raphman_2 2. for designing the questionnaire
18:18 raphman_2 Could you compose such a list?
    CHART Unknown command
  raphman_2 or comparison chart
  moren I agree with that. I'm kind of surprised there wasn't a good list
for that. I can make one though, it should be pretty easy just looking at
some of the protocol's web sites
  raphman_2 yeah
18:19 moren It'll probably be best to have as a chart/table
  moren It'll be easier to see what everything supports and to find the
common features
18:20 moren Do you want me to do that for all protocols that
SIP-Communicator currently supports?
  moren or should I focus on a few of the major ones?
18:22 raphman_2 hmm,
  raphman_2 the more, the better
  moren ok
18:23 raphman_2 I think ssh, rss, Bonjour, and dict are not _that_
important
  moren I have a revised version of a journal article due Tuesday, so let's
say Wed. for getting that up and posting a link to the wiki?
18:24 raphman_2 great.
18:25 raphman_2 should we postpone our discussion of the questionnaire to
Thursday-Saturday?
  raphman_2 having such a list would make it more efficient
18:26 moren Yeah, we would probably need to revise the survey a lot after
we get that list
  moren the list should help focus the questions a bit more
  raphman_2 Ok.
18:27 raphman_2 I think there are three kinds of users we should care
about when designing the UI
  raphman_2 :
18:28 raphman_2 users having
  raphman_2 1. only contacts which are using the same protocol
  raphman_2 2. contacts using exactly one protocol. Different contacts my
use different protocols
  raphman_2 3. some contacts using multiple protocols
  raphman_2 anyone else?
18:29 moren Do we want to focus at all on those with SIP/VoIP as a primary
interest?
  raphman_2 that's the question
18:30 raphman_2 what do you mean by "primary interest"?
18:31 moren Using VoIP/SIP more than they would use IM, I guess
18:32 raphman_2 hmm...
  raphman_2 what do you think?
18:33 moren I think it might be useful, but at the same time I think that
might get away from the primary focus of multi-protocol usage with this
study
18:34 raphman_2 as VoIP is a primary focus of SIP-Communicator, we should
not completely neglect it.
  moren yeah, that's why I was thinking we might want to put some focus
into it. I'm just not sure how it fits into the current scope, i guess
18:35 raphman_2 However, we should learn more about SIP-Communicator's
user base - e.g. how many use SIP, how many use SIP to other SIP-phones,
etc.
  raphman_2 afaik SIP does not offer out-of-band IM features
18:36 raphman_2 thus, anyone using SIP-to-SIP communication might need IM
functions
18:37 raphman_2 e.g. you might do a fail-ove from VoIP to IM if the
connection speed drops
  raphman_2 fail-over.
  moren yeah, that sounds reasonable
18:38 raphman_2 one other nice feature I just thought of would be an
IM-to-SMS gateway
18:39 raphman_2 So you could send som URL to someone's mobile phone.
  raphman_2 thus, you would have some IM functionality even when using VoIP
to a mobile phone
18:40 moren Yeah, Gizmo (and I think) Wengo supported IM-to-SMS
  raphman_2 so, I think there are some ways somone using only VoIP might
need/want IM
18:41 moren yeah, and we should probably have questions related to that in
the survey
  raphman_2 yes.
  raphman_2 I'll ask Emil what they know about their user base already.
18:42 moren is any of that in the user personas that were made last summer?
18:43 raphman_2 Emil sent the personae to me but I can't find this
document anymore.
  raphman_2
18:44 raphman_2 ah, found it
18:45 raphman_2 oh, no.
  raphman_2 wrong file
  raphman_2 the personae were not very complete, IIRC
  moren ah, ok
18:46 moren if you find it, then can you send it to me? It isn't a big
deal if you can't, but it might save us from asking some questions on the
survey.
18:47 raphman_2 IIRC the personae were only based on the documents that
are linked from the Wiki page
18:48 raphman_2 I think the main goal when designing a multi-protocol UI
will be to piss off noone
  raphman_2 e.g. the "only one protocol ever" group
18:49 raphman_2 because I think that those who are really using multiple
protocols in parallel are not that many
  moren I think that's another thing that would be good to find out in the
survey
18:50 raphman_2 yes. let's discuss the survey next time.
  raphman_2 Waht's you time limit?
  moren I don't know enough about that, myself. I know I used to use
multiple protocols all of the time, but then I got tired of chatting
online so now I mostly just use AIM and GoogleTalk and just talk to a
small handful of people
18:51 moren next week my schedule is pretty open other than Friday I might
be busy with the American holiday
  raphman_2
18:52 raphman_2 what's your time limit today?
  raphman_2 I have one or two small topics left...
  moren and I could even do Friday morning (about this same time)
  moren oh, right now, I have time
  moren it's the weekend and no big plans for today
18:54 raphman_2 we could do a quick brainstorm session: How can
multi-protocol-features be integrated in the GUI other than cascading
right-click menus?
  raphman_2 * expanding a contact into multiple sub-contacts when clicked
18:56 moren I think having a protocol menu within the chat window would be
good, or maybe a drop down menu in the tool bar with an icon for the
protocol
  raphman_2 * only show features (e.g. as icons) which are common to all
protocols, hiding the protocol-specific functions behind protocol icons
  moren although with both of those I think a lot of people are still going
to not easily find the features
  moren yeah, that's what I was thinking
18:57 <- Mezz has disconnected ("CGI:IRC (EOF)")
  raphman_2 * bad way: show all functions, show an error message if the
currently used protocol does not support it.
18:58 moren yeah, I think we need to minimize the error messages as much
as possible
  moren that’s how a lot of them currently do it
  raphman_2 agreed
18:59 raphman_2 fail-over, i.e. switching to an other supported protocol
if the currently used protocol does not offer a certain feature.
  raphman_2 like transfering files while using VoIP
19:00 moren Yeah, I think that would be a pretty awesome feature, that
should be pretty simple
19:01 raphman_2 another thought: maybe using e-mail as the ultimate
fail-over.
  moren and no other client supports that
  raphman_2 for sending a file, or even for sending text messages
  moren yeah, a lot of protocols do that on their own now (or off-line
messages), but no multi-protocol client supports it (although some support
offline messages)
  raphman_2 should be optional. though.
19:02 moren Yeah, I think they would need to check a box and/or enter an
e-mail address for that feature either during setup or after setup in the
options
  raphman_2 I didn't know there are IM apps which can send e-mail. Could
you name one?
19:05 moren GoogleTalk
  moren it sends an e-mail (of sorts)
  moren Yahoo!, I think will send an e-mail with an offline message as well
19:06 moren or has an option
  moren not sure about that, it's been awhile since I've used Yahoo! mail
19:07 raphman_2 btw: I think there are two kinds of cross-protocol
features: those that can use the same parameters for all protocols (e.g.
Away/Online/Offline-Status) and those that require different parameters
for the different protocols (e.g. changing your nick is offered by all
protocols, but you don't necessarily change your nick for all protocols at
once)
19:08 raphman_2 you cannot handle them the same way in the UI
19:10 raphman_2 I think I have to leave soon.
  moren yeah, that's a good caveat to keep in mind
19:11 moren ok, we can talk about the rest when we discuss the survey
19:12 raphman_2 Is Thursday morning (your time, evening for me) ok?
  moren Yeah, that should work perfectly
19:13 raphman_2 great
  raphman_2 I'll send time&date to you and Emil.
19:14 raphman_2 I'll also send a the chat protocol to the devel mailing
list
  moren ok, and I'll send out the table on multi-protocol features on Wed.
sometime
  moren it may come late on Wed., but it'll be there (hopefully it will be
earlier in the day)
19:15 raphman_2 please document our discussion in the wiki (just a short
copy&paste of the issues we discussed).

---------------------------------------------------------------------
To unsubscribe, e-mail: dev-unsubscribe@sip-communicator.dev.java.net
For additional commands, e-mail: dev-help@sip-communicator.dev.java.net