Friday, 16 December 2011

'Users do not check work by looking at mark-up': ReScript editing issue 3

Page section
Article editor

Many users will be unused to editing XML marked-up text, and may find this daunting. When checking the document, users will likely read it through using the preview pane rather than the XML editing window, and will expect to be able to select parts of the text that they wish to edit from within the preview pane.

Impact severity

Extend the functionality of the preview pane so that double-clicking on text there simultaneously selects the same text in the XML editing window as well.

The user looks through and selects text in the preview pane, and then uses the toolbar to insert the relevant attribute. As the cursor position in the XML editing window is not in sync with the cursor position in the preview pane, the attribute code is inserted in the text in the XML editing window in the wrong position, as illustrated below.
Figure 3—1: the real-time preview pane allows text selection as does the main editing window. If the text selection is different, the user could assume they are inserting the relevant mark-up given the preview pane position but the system would  proceed using the text window.

Quantitative measure
Click where you would expect to add an attribute to the name "Evance Jones".

Actual question
Click where you would expect to add an attribute to the name "Evance Jones".

Initial click test result ('before')
November 2011: 120 responses.

Figure 3—2: Before

Development change
Removing the preview pane from simultaneous viewing alongside the text editing window, and limiting the toolbar to only appear alongside the text window.

Figure 3—3: de-coupling the preview pane leaves more room for the editing window and new toolbar, presented within a tab folder structure
Follow-up click test result ('after')
December 2011: 90 responses.


Figure 3—4: After
The wording of the question could have been better: the term 'attribute' is quite generic and would normally be replaced with a worked example, e.g. "where would you expect to mark-up Evance Jones' surname". This had the effect of confusing users of the test, leading to a group of clicks on the third toolbar option, titled 'Commentary'. This would be mitigated if this toolbar option were to be renamed along the lines of 'Footnotes, Comments'.

Overall, there has been a movement of clicks away from the text and into the toolbar but some still remain. By this point in the sequence of tests, I am beginning to think that a further context menu might be necessary which pops up at the cursor position and also permits access to the 'insert mark-up' functions. This would be a different means to support people but it would not be easy to investigate using this type of click test.

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