12 April 2005

XML Concepts: Desktop ‘aggregator within an aggregator’ to bring instructions, menus, and solutions, not just content, to the new user


Summary


This note outlines a new users experience with Newsgator Online. Also, we discuss the idea of a Newsgator Desk top which users XML-technology to bring to the user the steps to complete a task.

We also outline a number of feature requests that are not intended to say this is needed, but that these are the types of things that a new user will notice and ask for.

I’m sure that many of these ideas have already bee considered and are actually being considered if not already in beta. I wanted to share with you the perspective of a new user and outline what I see would be some good solutions, not just for new users but anyone familiar with XML.

Thank you for considering my views and suggestions on making XML platforms more useful. [For reference, other Newsgator Online ideas.]


Training Day for Newbies


Well, today was an interesting day. I had one of those situations where someone was having a challenge with something. I came across some information and sites and thought the information would be of interest.

But rather than give them the links, I showed them how to find this type of content on their own, and save the RSS feed URIs to an aggregator.

The purpose of this note is to share the highlights of this new user’s interaction with Newsgator Online.


Sign-up


One thing happened during the sign-up that I remember happening to me, but thought it was one of those “newbie kind of things”—have to get used to it.

But now that I’ve been using aggregators for a while, and knowing what XML can do, I looked at the situation a little differently. Rather than say, ‘put up with it,’ I started to think about what would actually make the platform easier to use for the new user.

Rather than just focus on the task, and the overwhelming experience of the online tool, I started to notice where the pauses where and realized there were things getting in the way that could be improved.

This is what I noticed. When you’re signing-in, you’ll be given some prompts for a user name and password. Once this is accepted, there’s a trick. You haven’t actually been approved.

There’s a button at the bottom of the page that says “Next”. The new user doesn’t see this because the “next” button is at the bottom of the page; and in between [a] the password sign-in, and [b] the “next” button are those [c] subscriptions. The idea is that new users can add new subscriptions.

In theory, that’s nice. But new users aren’t ready for that. Rather, they want a reward. They don’t want to get stuck either.

So the solution is to take these tic-boxes out, and move them to the next age.

What new users need to see is a simple sign-up page to enter their member name and password, and then a “next” button. What this will do is let them know that the “orange next” is their navigation.

After they successfully sign-in with their member name and choose their password, they also need to get rewarded. Again, Newsgator doesn’t do this, but offers more options. Again, the solution is to strip down this first page to the barebones, and get the user quickly signed in, and ready to start working.

Users need the option to say, “I want to do that later” when given other subscriptions. Remember, their goal at this point is to see the content show up and say, “Cool.” So don’t make them spend time making decisions about other content when they still want to see the magic with the new URI they’ve just gotten.


Observations


Here are some quick shot-gun reactions and observations during the demonstration. I thought you might want to have access to these so you can see the types of things going on. Normally these are not well documented as the new user is overwhelmed by new things; and the trainers are simply training. I did both and took detailed notes while we were doing this.

  • What happens is someone who is signing up for Newsgator to add a specific feed doesn’t want to read through all the default feed-tic boxes. But there’s no indication to them that this information is or is not required.

  • New users might be in a position where they’ve entered their user name and password, but aren’t sure what to do next.

  • As its stands, there’s no separation between A. Entering the Sign-in name/member password, and B. The list of content of possible new subscriptions.

  • I think it would be more helpful for those who are new users and first time visitors if there was an immediate confirmation that they did the right thing.

  • Once this confirmation occurs after they enter their user name and password [when they first sign-up], they need a congratulatory reward. They are now members. And now they can do other things.

  • Then…at that point…they should get new information about other stuff. What this will do is ensure that the new users aren’t stuck wondering what to do.


    Solutions


    Here are some thoughts on what could be done with navigation.

    A. Have the “next” button just below the sign-in.
    B. Have a separate screen to showcase the other subscriptions people might want to add.
    C. Give the user some sort of visual cue that they’ve done the right thing by entering their username and password.

    After they get congratulated for signing up…THEN show them the next screen, and offer them new content or other things to add.


    Newsgator Desktop

    Bringing solutions to your aggregator


    One thing I’ve noticed about XML is that it can move all sorts of content across many platforms. I can enter a comment title into Haloscan; have that name report through Feedburner to my aggregator; then have the aggregator strip that feed and report a summary to blogger.

    That’s four platforms all working on the same data.

    Imagine the same type of principle applied to a single platform. In this case, rather than moving content or data, we’re moving instructions, links, and visual cues.

    How can this be applied? Have you ever visited an unfamiliar website and noticed how awkward you felt: The buttons, links, and site map just don’t seem to make sense.

    Then you go back and visit the same site a couple of moths later [after you’ve been using it], and you move through it like butter.

    Well, the same kind of experience should be available for those who visit the first time. How to do it? Well, there needs to be a standard site-map that new users get shown, and when a new user goes to a new platform, the platform using XML will showcase the content and tasks in terms of what the user wants.

    This is another way of saying that a new user should have the tasks brought to them, just as content is brought to them. No more hunting for links; rather all the links, instructions, menus, previews, options should be brought to them. To one place. On the front page.

    This will address the following finding: “There needs to be some improved navigation cues for new sign-ups. Remember, they want to use the platform, and they have a URI they want to add.

    How about a simple question, “What do you want to do?”…they can choose tasks from a radio button


    Radio Buttons For User Tasks


  • Add a feed
  • Confirm a feed was added
  • Check index
  • Create a folder
  • Save an item from a feed
  • Post my comment feed to my blog


  • Some might say that what should happen next is Newsgator should auto-direct the user to the links that do this. But this misses the point and power of XML and aggregators. Don’t make the user go anywhere. Bring the instructions, links to them.


    Remember the selling point of XML over HTML


    HTML gives you wepages. You have to visit the webpage. XML does the opposite. You don’t have to visit the page. The page visits you.



    This same selling point of XML over HTML relates to content; and this should also be applied to tasks, menus, and instructions.

    Here’s what’s currently the problem with any XML platform. The user knows what they want to do, but the new site has new terms; and the new site has an unfamiliar map.

    Again, the user knows what they want to do; the goal of the platform should be to deliver the instructions, content, and solutions to the user, and no longer require the user to find the tasks, links, or procedures.

    Again, using the current approach, the user has to both know what they want to do; then translate their goal into terms that Newsgator Online is using. Usually, the new user doesn’t know what these are. So the problem is the existing menus are not helpful neither in terminology, nor in easy finding of the link for that task.

    Some might suggest that they want a one-step approach to tasks. They might even argue that when given a list of options to tasks to do, rather than leave the user to find their way on their own; simply take them to the page where they first need to go.

    Some might even ask there be some auto-highlight features for the specific buttons, links, or menus. That way, they won’t have to hunt. They simply look for the flashing icon at that step.

    But why stop there? Some might even suggest creating a browser-like function with the Newsgator. This is like a macro or wizard. But use the XML-data transfer feature of rather than requiring users to go to the link, why not bring the links to the user!

    So, you have a radio button with a task selected…then user the XML-features to then import all the links for that particular function-task to a single spot within Newsgator. Call this the Newsgator Desktop.

    But this doesn’t leverage the power of XML. Why are we making users hunt for instructions, forums, and anything? We’re creating tools to deliver content. Let’s make tools that deliver the support-functions to one desktop within the aggregator.

    One-step-functions are not simply macros. They are focused on tasks and results, without jumping around, without hunting through menus, and without navigating something.

    Apply the XML principle we apply to webpages: Bring it to the user, let the aggregator do the work, and let the user focus on the result, not the maze or the links. Users don’t want links, don’t want instructions, and don’t want to go hunting for things that should be brought to them.

    In this case, it could be brought to them. Using XML. And using XML within the XML platform to deliver not just content, but also instructions, menus, links, and all the information they need to one place.

    When you start doing that on your aggregators, then things will really take off: The platform will be easy to use; and the new users will say “cool” every time they use the platform. Not just when they look at incoming content; but the incoming directions and solutions to using a new platform for the first time.


    Bookmarks


    The other thing that new users want to do with an aggregator is also keep a place for ideas.

    Remember, they’re new. They’ve just been given a subscription URL from a platform like PubSub and BlogDigger. But they’ve never been there before.

    In the meantime, they’ve had to save the URI to Newsgator, and created folders.

    By this time, they’ve forgotten the name of the site they got the content. Why not have a feature that allows them to trace the source of the URI; and also a mechanism that will auto-save the XML-related sites right into the aggregator.

    When I look at the desktop, I see a browser. And within that, I see the aggregator. What if there was an aggregator-browser within the aggregator. Something that would auto-save XML-specific tools, and links. No more external bookmarks.

    No more need to splice feeds in Newsgator. Have these aggregator-saved-links part of an OPML file that can be auto-exported simply with a simple, “Post these links,” and the bots automatically enter the external site, post the information to the template and it’s done.

    Again, I’d like to see a place within the Newsgator for non-URI links to be saved. Remember, your new users don’t know what links are important. But they need a quick place to save links for future reference.

    They’re not saving URIs so they don’t want to add a feed; rather they want a place where they can quickly save new tips related to XML-search links like: Newsgator Online, BlogDigger, and Technorati.

    Either these links could be preloaded, or the user could have a special place within Newgator where these links could be saved in real time. The goal is to have Newsgator Be the single platform: Then that platform should have a place to store all the stuff that a user needs in order to support Newsgator: The links for a place to save non-URIs for places that give hints and tips on how to use and find content and the good juice:

  • places to get feeds;
  • suggestions and hints on how to search for feeds;


    Problem with missing subscription


    Imagine the excitement of possibly not having to chase content and visit many webpages. The content gets delivered.

    You’re a new user. Just said, “Wow, that’s cool” when all this content shows up. And then you go to look at the index, but the feed URI you just added isn’t showing up. That can be really baffling.

    For example, one thing with Newsgator is that a new PubSub subscription can be added, in the subscription list, but there’s no content. So when you go to the index, there’s nothing listed, even if you have a folder.

    What to do? There needs to be some visual-confirmation for the new user what is going on. It appears as though because PubSub doesn’t have any content to report [because it is a new feed], that the subscription doesn’t appear in the index.

    However, the new user doesn’t know why the PubSub subscription doesn’t show up. They also don’t know that the subscription has actually correctly been saved, and is ready in the subscription list.

    Again, the solution is to move away from links, menus, and options and focus on What does the user want to do:


    What a user wants


  • They want to get a confirmation that the subscription they loaded is there
  • They want an answer why the link they just loaded isn’t showing up in the index
  • They want to have an option to know where they can go to actually see the link
  • Even if there’s no content in the subscription yet, they want guidance on how to find the place where the URI is actually saved
  • They want something that is going to confirm in their mind that there’s a good reason why something isn’t showing up
  • They want to be able to click on something, or have something show up that gives them an idea of what to expect, that there’s content there when it should be, and that the system is ready to report the information


  • So what’s needed is a focus on the “what do you want to do”: I want to confirm my subscription. Again, using the Newsgator Desktop concept, what the user would like is an XML-application that will bring all the functions, links, and windows to one spot within Newsgator that will answer the question:

  • I want to confirm my subscription is loaded, even though it doesn’t show up.

    Again, they don’t want an excuse or a story. They want to know and see the places where they can go. Again, the new user doesn’t know to ask this, but they don’t want to be taken to the following places; rather, they want all this stuff brought to them:


    Things to aggregate

  • The index
  • The subfolder
  • The subscription list
  • The actual content-URI that is reporting nothing for PubSub


  • Ideally, what could happen is that once the Newsgator Desktop gets the radio command of “I want to confirm my subscription is ready,” Newsgator Desktop would execute commands to act like an aggregator within an aggregator and do the following:

  • Inject the menu-links for the new subscription; and show the new user where the newly added feed is located in the index
  • Show the new user what the new feed looks like; again, have an auto-expand option like what we see with Visimo and bring this into the same place that shows the feed is there, and that the content is ready to be reviewed, and what the page will look like

  • At the same time walk the users through the steps to find their current feed-URI so they can create a meaningful folder name. In this case, they may be new and not know they can change the PubSub subscription-feed name; so they have a simple “PubSub subscription” without any name.

    The new user at this point needs an auto-direction into the desk top that walks them through how to create the folder. Again, they’ve just created the subscription, so the Newsgator Desktop tool should automatically assign the folder name to “My Feeds” and not require the user to choose between “my feeds” and “my clippings”

    To recap what should be happening is that the new user should be given prompts not simply with instructions and text, nor with flashing lights and the requirement to chase these with the mouse, or following instructions with screen shots.

    Rather, the XML platforms should be using XML-technology to bring the functions to one place within their platform, as opposed to requiring those who are getting used to XML to then use non-XML practices: Search, find, surf, hunt, dig, and backtrack.

    In short, the best way to showcase a platform is not simply to showcase how great a feed is, and how easily one can get all the content to one place. But it is to use XML to also save the user from having to do what they are being told they don’t have to do with HTML:


    XML: Do with instructions what is done with content


  • No more hunting
  • No more confusion
  • No more time wasted searching


  • The reason XML platforms are not getting adopted is that, despite their coolness, they don’t actually do what they say the can do. The current platforms still require users to do what supposedly XML is designed to solve:


    Aggregator in an Aggregator


    This tool means new users won't get lost, they'll no longer have to:

  • Hunt
  • Dig
  • Wander
  • Get confused



  • Recap


    What I’d like to see are the following easy options for new users.

    A quick answer on how to delete something from a feed. The current buttons do not let one delete something. Rather they only let people to mark the clippings as deleted. I’d like this delete option to be also available, with an auto-recovery option or undo.

    Also, there needs to be a way to undo an item as read. Remember, your new users don’t know what that green tic box is. They may click on it, and get it changes shade to light. But what just happened? They need something that says “This item is marked read.” You can reactivate it.

    So, one option might be to have a red-click box to delete items from the feed; an orange button to mark it as read; and a green tic box to reactivate that content to make it appear again.

    Clearly, one alternative is to use clippings. But clippings can get pretty full. Rather, sometimes may we worth highlighting as worthy of review, but not something that they’d necessarily like to save to a folder. Think of this kind of as an interesting item that they may want to ponder over next time they review this feed, but not something they want to necessarily clip and save.

    Another option is for users to go back in history and look at all the content in the feed. But this can be overwhelming. Sometimes the feed is very long. The new user simply wants to have a way to find the content without clipping it; but still see the good stuff in the feed, even if they haven’t saved it to clipping. Think of this as a way for the reader to self-edit the feed: Good stuff, stuff to save, ignore this, and delete this.

    Remember, the user may not want to see all the historical content, nor want to save this item, they just want a better way of filtering the existing content stream.

    Also, new users think in terms of browsers. They get to a new page with many items, and ask, “How can I search this page for a specific term”. Again, it’s not obvious how to do this; nor does it appear as though there is a fast way to review within the feed those key terms.

    Again, users can use a browser. But the problem is they may have common terms in the folders; and the surrounding content-folders and names may have the same terms. They don’t want the browser to search the page; they want Newsgator Online to focus the search on the content.

    This is again where we have a browser within Newsgator: That focuses just on feeds not the larger platform.


    Summary


    What I’ve done is outline a brand-new users' perspective of Newsgator Oneline. Based on what I’ve seen I still am amazed at the eyes widening response every time I showcase Newsgator Online.

    The response is generally, “Wow. That is cool!” XML tools save users time. Instead of users having to visit the sites, the users get to have all the content brought to them.

    Going further, I’d like to see this amazement continue as they new user, who is lost, and wants to user the platform can rely on XML-technology to not just bring content to them, but the solutions and widows to complete the task.

    This means focusing on what the user wants to do, and creating a system that will rely on XML to import the windows, commands, and links into a single Newsgator Online desktop.

    It doesn’t mean that Newsgator Online has a problem. Rather, it means that in order to truly apply XML to an aggregator, the new user needs to be dazzled every time they want to do something.


    Summary goals


  • An easier way to visually indicate that the new subscription, which has no content, is actually loaded.

  • A break between [a] the new user sign-in and password entry; and [b] other options to add new subscriptions.

  • Use XML-technology to bring the Newsgator Online tasks to a single place.

  • An easier way to find an unnamed feed in the index.

  • An easier way to delete an individual blog-entry/content-item from the feed-subscription result.

  • A way to search just content in the feed, not the entire platform or webpage.

  • A place to save non-URIs related to XML platforms.

    Clearer visual cues in index that subscription loaded

    Better auto-directions and guidance when verifying a new subscription is added. Meaning: When users add a new feed, they should be given guidance in the Newsgator Desktop to bring the next steps to them: Create a folder with that name; and use XML-technology to bring the tasks to them: Create a folder; Name a folder; assign folder; and then see with a magnifying glass what that content would look like.

    Alternate content searching platforms

    When adding a new feed, and there’s no content, and auto-tool which hunts down an alternative feed that could find content that matches the subscription.

    If users create a PubSub subscription, but there’s no content, why not have a tool that will auto-create subscriptions in other XML platforms like BlogDigger and Technorati, and also auto-assign these feeds to the same folder where PubSub still reports no content. It may not be a prospective search, but at least there will be something there to review.




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  • Summary


    This note outlines a new users experience with Newsgator Online. Also, we discuss the idea of a Newsgator Desk top which users XML-technology to bring to the user the steps to complete a task.

    We also outline a number of feature requests that are not intended to say this is needed, but that these are the types of things that a new user will notice and ask for.

    I’m sure that many of these ideas have already bee considered and are actually being considered if not already in beta. I wanted to share with you the perspective of a new user and outline what I see would be some good solutions, not just for new users but anyone familiar with XML.

    Thank you for considering my views and suggestions on making XML platforms more useful. [For reference, other Newsgator Online ideas.]


    Training Day for Newbies


    Well, today was an interesting day. I had one of those situations where someone was having a challenge with something. I came across some information and sites and thought the information would be of interest.

    But rather than give them the links, I showed them how to find this type of content on their own, and save the RSS feed URIs to an aggregator.

    The purpose of this note is to share the highlights of this new user’s interaction with Newsgator Online.


    Sign-up


    One thing happened during the sign-up that I remember happening to me, but thought it was one of those “newbie kind of things”—have to get used to it.

    But now that I’ve been using aggregators for a while, and knowing what XML can do, I looked at the situation a little differently. Rather than say, ‘put up with it,’ I started to think about what would actually make the platform easier to use for the new user.

    Rather than just focus on the task, and the overwhelming experience of the online tool, I started to notice where the pauses where and realized there were things getting in the way that could be improved.

    This is what I noticed. When you’re signing-in, you’ll be given some prompts for a user name and password. Once this is accepted, there’s a trick. You haven’t actually been approved.

    There’s a button at the bottom of the page that says “Next”. The new user doesn’t see this because the “next” button is at the bottom of the page; and in between [a] the password sign-in, and [b] the “next” button are those [c] subscriptions. The idea is that new users can add new subscriptions.

    In theory, that’s nice. But new users aren’t ready for that. Rather, they want a reward. They don’t want to get stuck either.

    So the solution is to take these tic-boxes out, and move them to the next age.

    What new users need to see is a simple sign-up page to enter their member name and password, and then a “next” button. What this will do is let them know that the “orange next” is their navigation.

    After they successfully sign-in with their member name and choose their password, they also need to get rewarded. Again, Newsgator doesn’t do this, but offers more options. Again, the solution is to strip down this first page to the barebones, and get the user quickly signed in, and ready to start working.

    Users need the option to say, “I want to do that later” when given other subscriptions. Remember, their goal at this point is to see the content show up and say, “Cool.” So don’t make them spend time making decisions about other content when they still want to see the magic with the new URI they’ve just gotten.


    Observations


    Here are some quick shot-gun reactions and observations during the demonstration. I thought you might want to have access to these so you can see the types of things going on. Normally these are not well documented as the new user is overwhelmed by new things; and the trainers are simply training. I did both and took detailed notes while we were doing this.

  • What happens is someone who is signing up for Newsgator to add a specific feed doesn’t want to read through all the default feed-tic boxes. But there’s no indication to them that this information is or is not required.

  • New users might be in a position where they’ve entered their user name and password, but aren’t sure what to do next.

  • As its stands, there’s no separation between A. Entering the Sign-in name/member password, and B. The list of content of possible new subscriptions.

  • I think it would be more helpful for those who are new users and first time visitors if there was an immediate confirmation that they did the right thing.

  • Once this confirmation occurs after they enter their user name and password [when they first sign-up], they need a congratulatory reward. They are now members. And now they can do other things.

  • Then…at that point…they should get new information about other stuff. What this will do is ensure that the new users aren’t stuck wondering what to do.


    Solutions


    Here are some thoughts on what could be done with navigation.

    A. Have the “next” button just below the sign-in.
    B. Have a separate screen to showcase the other subscriptions people might want to add.
    C. Give the user some sort of visual cue that they’ve done the right thing by entering their username and password.

    After they get congratulated for signing up…THEN show them the next screen, and offer them new content or other things to add.


    Newsgator Desktop

    Bringing solutions to your aggregator


    One thing I’ve noticed about XML is that it can move all sorts of content across many platforms. I can enter a comment title into Haloscan; have that name report through Feedburner to my aggregator; then have the aggregator strip that feed and report a summary to blogger.

    That’s four platforms all working on the same data.

    Imagine the same type of principle applied to a single platform. In this case, rather than moving content or data, we’re moving instructions, links, and visual cues.

    How can this be applied? Have you ever visited an unfamiliar website and noticed how awkward you felt: The buttons, links, and site map just don’t seem to make sense.

    Then you go back and visit the same site a couple of moths later [after you’ve been using it], and you move through it like butter.

    Well, the same kind of experience should be available for those who visit the first time. How to do it? Well, there needs to be a standard site-map that new users get shown, and when a new user goes to a new platform, the platform using XML will showcase the content and tasks in terms of what the user wants.

    This is another way of saying that a new user should have the tasks brought to them, just as content is brought to them. No more hunting for links; rather all the links, instructions, menus, previews, options should be brought to them. To one place. On the front page.

    This will address the following finding: “There needs to be some improved navigation cues for new sign-ups. Remember, they want to use the platform, and they have a URI they want to add.

    How about a simple question, “What do you want to do?”…they can choose tasks from a radio button


    Radio Buttons For User Tasks


  • Add a feed
  • Confirm a feed was added
  • Check index
  • Create a folder
  • Save an item from a feed
  • Post my comment feed to my blog


  • Some might say that what should happen next is Newsgator should auto-direct the user to the links that do this. But this misses the point and power of XML and aggregators. Don’t make the user go anywhere. Bring the instructions, links to them.


    Remember the selling point of XML over HTML


    HTML gives you wepages. You have to visit the webpage. XML does the opposite. You don’t have to visit the page. The page visits you.



    This same selling point of XML over HTML relates to content; and this should also be applied to tasks, menus, and instructions.

    Here’s what’s currently the problem with any XML platform. The user knows what they want to do, but the new site has new terms; and the new site has an unfamiliar map.

    Again, the user knows what they want to do; the goal of the platform should be to deliver the instructions, content, and solutions to the user, and no longer require the user to find the tasks, links, or procedures.

    Again, using the current approach, the user has to both know what they want to do; then translate their goal into terms that Newsgator Online is using. Usually, the new user doesn’t know what these are. So the problem is the existing menus are not helpful neither in terminology, nor in easy finding of the link for that task.

    Some might suggest that they want a one-step approach to tasks. They might even argue that when given a list of options to tasks to do, rather than leave the user to find their way on their own; simply take them to the page where they first need to go.

    Some might even ask there be some auto-highlight features for the specific buttons, links, or menus. That way, they won’t have to hunt. They simply look for the flashing icon at that step.

    But why stop there? Some might even suggest creating a browser-like function with the Newsgator. This is like a macro or wizard. But use the XML-data transfer feature of rather than requiring users to go to the link, why not bring the links to the user!

    So, you have a radio button with a task selected…then user the XML-features to then import all the links for that particular function-task to a single spot within Newsgator. Call this the Newsgator Desktop.

    But this doesn’t leverage the power of XML. Why are we making users hunt for instructions, forums, and anything? We’re creating tools to deliver content. Let’s make tools that deliver the support-functions to one desktop within the aggregator.

    One-step-functions are not simply macros. They are focused on tasks and results, without jumping around, without hunting through menus, and without navigating something.

    Apply the XML principle we apply to webpages: Bring it to the user, let the aggregator do the work, and let the user focus on the result, not the maze or the links. Users don’t want links, don’t want instructions, and don’t want to go hunting for things that should be brought to them.

    In this case, it could be brought to them. Using XML. And using XML within the XML platform to deliver not just content, but also instructions, menus, links, and all the information they need to one place.

    When you start doing that on your aggregators, then things will really take off: The platform will be easy to use; and the new users will say “cool” every time they use the platform. Not just when they look at incoming content; but the incoming directions and solutions to using a new platform for the first time.


    Bookmarks


    The other thing that new users want to do with an aggregator is also keep a place for ideas.

    Remember, they’re new. They’ve just been given a subscription URL from a platform like PubSub and BlogDigger. But they’ve never been there before.

    In the meantime, they’ve had to save the URI to Newsgator, and created folders.

    By this time, they’ve forgotten the name of the site they got the content. Why not have a feature that allows them to trace the source of the URI; and also a mechanism that will auto-save the XML-related sites right into the aggregator.

    When I look at the desktop, I see a browser. And within that, I see the aggregator. What if there was an aggregator-browser within the aggregator. Something that would auto-save XML-specific tools, and links. No more external bookmarks.

    No more need to splice feeds in Newsgator. Have these aggregator-saved-links part of an OPML file that can be auto-exported simply with a simple, “Post these links,” and the bots automatically enter the external site, post the information to the template and it’s done.

    Again, I’d like to see a place within the Newsgator for non-URI links to be saved. Remember, your new users don’t know what links are important. But they need a quick place to save links for future reference.

    They’re not saving URIs so they don’t want to add a feed; rather they want a place where they can quickly save new tips related to XML-search links like: Newsgator Online, BlogDigger, and Technorati.

    Either these links could be preloaded, or the user could have a special place within Newgator where these links could be saved in real time. The goal is to have Newsgator Be the single platform: Then that platform should have a place to store all the stuff that a user needs in order to support Newsgator: The links for a place to save non-URIs for places that give hints and tips on how to use and find content and the good juice:

  • places to get feeds;
  • suggestions and hints on how to search for feeds;


    Problem with missing subscription


    Imagine the excitement of possibly not having to chase content and visit many webpages. The content gets delivered.

    You’re a new user. Just said, “Wow, that’s cool” when all this content shows up. And then you go to look at the index, but the feed URI you just added isn’t showing up. That can be really baffling.

    For example, one thing with Newsgator is that a new PubSub subscription can be added, in the subscription list, but there’s no content. So when you go to the index, there’s nothing listed, even if you have a folder.

    What to do? There needs to be some visual-confirmation for the new user what is going on. It appears as though because PubSub doesn’t have any content to report [because it is a new feed], that the subscription doesn’t appear in the index.

    However, the new user doesn’t know why the PubSub subscription doesn’t show up. They also don’t know that the subscription has actually correctly been saved, and is ready in the subscription list.

    Again, the solution is to move away from links, menus, and options and focus on What does the user want to do:


    What a user wants


  • They want to get a confirmation that the subscription they loaded is there
  • They want an answer why the link they just loaded isn’t showing up in the index
  • They want to have an option to know where they can go to actually see the link
  • Even if there’s no content in the subscription yet, they want guidance on how to find the place where the URI is actually saved
  • They want something that is going to confirm in their mind that there’s a good reason why something isn’t showing up
  • They want to be able to click on something, or have something show up that gives them an idea of what to expect, that there’s content there when it should be, and that the system is ready to report the information


  • So what’s needed is a focus on the “what do you want to do”: I want to confirm my subscription. Again, using the Newsgator Desktop concept, what the user would like is an XML-application that will bring all the functions, links, and windows to one spot within Newsgator that will answer the question:

  • I want to confirm my subscription is loaded, even though it doesn’t show up.

    Again, they don’t want an excuse or a story. They want to know and see the places where they can go. Again, the new user doesn’t know to ask this, but they don’t want to be taken to the following places; rather, they want all this stuff brought to them:


    Things to aggregate

  • The index
  • The subfolder
  • The subscription list
  • The actual content-URI that is reporting nothing for PubSub


  • Ideally, what could happen is that once the Newsgator Desktop gets the radio command of “I want to confirm my subscription is ready,” Newsgator Desktop would execute commands to act like an aggregator within an aggregator and do the following:

  • Inject the menu-links for the new subscription; and show the new user where the newly added feed is located in the index
  • Show the new user what the new feed looks like; again, have an auto-expand option like what we see with Visimo and bring this into the same place that shows the feed is there, and that the content is ready to be reviewed, and what the page will look like

  • At the same time walk the users through the steps to find their current feed-URI so they can create a meaningful folder name. In this case, they may be new and not know they can change the PubSub subscription-feed name; so they have a simple “PubSub subscription” without any name.

    The new user at this point needs an auto-direction into the desk top that walks them through how to create the folder. Again, they’ve just created the subscription, so the Newsgator Desktop tool should automatically assign the folder name to “My Feeds” and not require the user to choose between “my feeds” and “my clippings”

    To recap what should be happening is that the new user should be given prompts not simply with instructions and text, nor with flashing lights and the requirement to chase these with the mouse, or following instructions with screen shots.

    Rather, the XML platforms should be using XML-technology to bring the functions to one place within their platform, as opposed to requiring those who are getting used to XML to then use non-XML practices: Search, find, surf, hunt, dig, and backtrack.

    In short, the best way to showcase a platform is not simply to showcase how great a feed is, and how easily one can get all the content to one place. But it is to use XML to also save the user from having to do what they are being told they don’t have to do with HTML:


    XML: Do with instructions what is done with content


  • No more hunting
  • No more confusion
  • No more time wasted searching


  • The reason XML platforms are not getting adopted is that, despite their coolness, they don’t actually do what they say the can do. The current platforms still require users to do what supposedly XML is designed to solve:


    Aggregator in an Aggregator


    This tool means new users won't get lost, they'll no longer have to:

  • Hunt
  • Dig
  • Wander
  • Get confused



  • Recap


    What I’d like to see are the following easy options for new users.

    A quick answer on how to delete something from a feed. The current buttons do not let one delete something. Rather they only let people to mark the clippings as deleted. I’d like this delete option to be also available, with an auto-recovery option or undo.

    Also, there needs to be a way to undo an item as read. Remember, your new users don’t know what that green tic box is. They may click on it, and get it changes shade to light. But what just happened? They need something that says “This item is marked read.” You can reactivate it.

    So, one option might be to have a red-click box to delete items from the feed; an orange button to mark it as read; and a green tic box to reactivate that content to make it appear again.

    Clearly, one alternative is to use clippings. But clippings can get pretty full. Rather, sometimes may we worth highlighting as worthy of review, but not something that they’d necessarily like to save to a folder. Think of this kind of as an interesting item that they may want to ponder over next time they review this feed, but not something they want to necessarily clip and save.

    Another option is for users to go back in history and look at all the content in the feed. But this can be overwhelming. Sometimes the feed is very long. The new user simply wants to have a way to find the content without clipping it; but still see the good stuff in the feed, even if they haven’t saved it to clipping. Think of this as a way for the reader to self-edit the feed: Good stuff, stuff to save, ignore this, and delete this.

    Remember, the user may not want to see all the historical content, nor want to save this item, they just want a better way of filtering the existing content stream.

    Also, new users think in terms of browsers. They get to a new page with many items, and ask, “How can I search this page for a specific term”. Again, it’s not obvious how to do this; nor does it appear as though there is a fast way to review within the feed those key terms.

    Again, users can use a browser. But the problem is they may have common terms in the folders; and the surrounding content-folders and names may have the same terms. They don’t want the browser to search the page; they want Newsgator Online to focus the search on the content.

    This is again where we have a browser within Newsgator: That focuses just on feeds not the larger platform.


    Summary


    What I’ve done is outline a brand-new users' perspective of Newsgator Oneline. Based on what I’ve seen I still am amazed at the eyes widening response every time I showcase Newsgator Online.

    The response is generally, “Wow. That is cool!” XML tools save users time. Instead of users having to visit the sites, the users get to have all the content brought to them.

    Going further, I’d like to see this amazement continue as they new user, who is lost, and wants to user the platform can rely on XML-technology to not just bring content to them, but the solutions and widows to complete the task.

    This means focusing on what the user wants to do, and creating a system that will rely on XML to import the windows, commands, and links into a single Newsgator Online desktop.

    It doesn’t mean that Newsgator Online has a problem. Rather, it means that in order to truly apply XML to an aggregator, the new user needs to be dazzled every time they want to do something.


    Summary goals


  • An easier way to visually indicate that the new subscription, which has no content, is actually loaded.

  • A break between [a] the new user sign-in and password entry; and [b] other options to add new subscriptions.

  • Use XML-technology to bring the Newsgator Online tasks to a single place.

  • An easier way to find an unnamed feed in the index.

  • An easier way to delete an individual blog-entry/content-item from the feed-subscription result.

  • A way to search just content in the feed, not the entire platform or webpage.

  • A place to save non-URIs related to XML platforms.

    Clearer visual cues in index that subscription loaded

    Better auto-directions and guidance when verifying a new subscription is added. Meaning: When users add a new feed, they should be given guidance in the Newsgator Desktop to bring the next steps to them: Create a folder with that name; and use XML-technology to bring the tasks to them: Create a folder; Name a folder; assign folder; and then see with a magnifying glass what that content would look like.

    Alternate content searching platforms

    When adding a new feed, and there’s no content, and auto-tool which hunts down an alternative feed that could find content that matches the subscription.

    If users create a PubSub subscription, but there’s no content, why not have a tool that will auto-create subscriptions in other XML platforms like BlogDigger and Technorati, and also auto-assign these feeds to the same folder where PubSub still reports no content. It may not be a prospective search, but at least there will be something there to review.




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