Topic: Even more design problems

In G4, we could see all fields of species records on the gridmap page in a spreadsheet-like format, sorted by dataset.  We could also add comments to records, an extremely valuable tool for maintaining accuracy.

In G5, we lost the ability to comment (it is still not there, despite promises to the contrary), because it was not used much - that, at least, is what I was told by an NBN officer. That might have been because data quality was generally high and so the need for commenting was not a daily event, but, just as airbags in your car are rarely used, when you do need them you are very pleased someone thought of including them.

The other thing we lost in the move to G5 was that records could only be seen via a complicated process through the IMT, and then only limited fields and in batches of 10.  OK, we are now allowed to filter them, but that is small consolation.

In ALS when we get to the species page e.g. http://species.als.scot/species/NBNSYS0000030336, we can click to see a list of records, each one occupying 2 lines and bordered on the RHS by a vast area of empty space, as in http://records.als.scot/occurrences/sea … cordsView.

All we see is the taxon name, the date, the unsurprising information that the country is ‘Scotland’, and the name of the dataset.  Yes, we can see more than 10 at a time, and we can sort (but not filter), but again it seems that far more important items are not there.

For each record, we can click ‘View record’ and see e.g. http://records.als.scot/occurrences/4dd … 9c07bb4e9. The record details (incomplete, as has been pointed out in other posts) in a vertical format and accompanied on the LHS and below by a screed of ancillary data which are going to have no relevance to the vast majority of searches and users. Included is the species name no fewer than 3 times. Why?

So, some more redesigns, please, in the interests of ensuring that the final form of ALS is actually an improvement on what has gone before:

1 -  restore a spreadsheet-like display of records with the fields set horizontally (there is plenty space) on e.g. http://records.als.scot/occurrences/sea … cordsView;

2 – restore filtering of records;

3 – restore commenting;

4 – remove unnecessary and repeated items;

5 – for anyone who wants the additional technical data on e.g. http://records.als.scot/occurrences/4dd … 9c07bb4e9, things like the Data quality tests, Additional political boundaries information, and the whole of the LH panel, put them somewhere else;

6 – throughout the site, unless there are good reasons to do otherwise, design pages so that white space and scrolling are reduced to a minimum;

7- confirm that these points have been logged for action by the IT team.



Re: Even more design problems


Thank you for your comments about the design of the records pages and your suggestions for improving the functions available in the Atlas.  Your comments have been logged and will be taken into consideration when we are discussing these issues..

It is currently possible to filter a list of records. There is a 'Customise filters' button in the top left corner of the list of occurrences page and through the dialogue box you can select the different fields against which you wish to filter.

Thanks again for your comments.


Re: Even more design problems

Thanks for pointing out the filter button, Christine.  However, seeing it just provokes more puzzlement.

The two basic operations on lists are filter and sort.  Why are these two at opposite edges of the page, the filter one at the top of an otherwise blank panel? Had they been reasonably together, I might have noticed first time round.

Then when I try out the filter my reaction was that I don’t think I have ever seen such a convoluted non-intuitive interface for filtering in any piece of software.  In G5 the filter columns work on direct text input, so if e.g I want to filter for records in March, I just type ‘-03-’ and they are there (or not, if there are no such records).  If I want to filter similarly in ALS, I need to click ‘Customise filters’, clear the check-boxes, check the ‘Month’ box, click ‘Update’, click ‘Occurrence’, and check ‘March’.  As for the range of choices available, I can’t envisage anyone wanting such complex filtering doing other than downloading the data and filtering in Excel or similar.

G5 – 4 keystrokes and no waiting; ALS – 6 clicks and some unsettling delays.  And if I then want to see records for May, in G5 I just edit the ‘3’ to ‘5’ in the same window, but in ALS I have to clear the filter to open another panel and check another box.  In G5, I can get decade selections with e.g. ‘199‘ or ‘200’, but in ALS it requires going back into the ‘Customise filters’ box, click this, clear that.

(In passing, my statement in an earlier post that you could not sort in G5 is incorrect.  I have never wanted to use the sort, but I saw today that concealed in headings, black on dark grey background, are sort triangles.  Black on white might have been a better choice.)

All you need is the spreadsheet-style display I have already asked for, with a simple text search box at the top of each column. The routines exist in G5 and a myriad other resources.

To the IT team, please – throughout the site and for every page – do the following:

1 – look at the equivalent page in G5, and remind yourselves of what things were like in G4;

2 – ask yourselves if the ALS presentation is at least as clear, as simple, as fast, as informative, as what we have in G5, and as we had in G4;

3 – if the answer to any of these is ‘no’, redesign the ALS page to make it at least as clear, as simple, as fast, as informative, as what we have in G5, and as we had in G4;

4 – when you have done that, ask the people who actually want to use the site in the way the recorders and data managers intended if they are happy with the new design.

Please acknowledge that these points have been logged for action, and post in the forum when some progress has been made.