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UsabilityWareSorting

Note:

This Blueprint is superseded by BlueprintMenus which contains a complete suggestion of how the game could be improved.

Overview

The list of wares (and workers) inside a number of windows, in particular inside the warehouse window and the stock window (of the statistics menu) is probably very confusing to beginners. Wares are simply arranged by the internal ID, which is based on the order in which the wares are loaded according to the tribe's conf file. This is typically somewhat alphabetical, but only for English speaking languages. As a result, it takes some time to identify items that belong together, such as the various tridents of the Atlantean tribes. Even after a player has identified all the tridents, it may not be immediately clear what their relative strength is.

This blueprint suggests that without any major change in the UI, simply by changing the order in which wares appear, the usability can be improved significantly by showing related items together, and by showing them in a meaningful order in those situations where a meaningful order can be identified.

There are two separate aspects to this blueprint:

  • Identify meaningful groups and sorting order
  • Implement those changes in the tribe definitions

The latter part is very straightforward and only requires a change in the tribes' conf files. Therefore, the rest of the blueprint is only concerned with the first task.

Card sorting

We shall use a variant of the simple Card sorting technique to do the grouping and sorting. We will create a feedback form containing a list of all existing wares and workers in a neutral order, i.e. alphabetically. Both developers and users are then asked to give their feedback using this form. There will be one form for each tribe. In particular, they are asked to:

  • State their experience in playing this tribe.
  • Create categories (open card sorting)
  • Assign items to categories
  • Determine an order in which categories should appear
  • Within each category, determine in which order the items of that category should appear

We will collect this feedback (ideally anonymously, but at least in such a way that people are not influenced by the answers of others) over a certain period and then distill an ordering of the wares by:

  • Using a clustering approach to identify categories
  • Using a voting approach to identify the ordering of categories and the ordering of items

This will give an overall list of wares which we then implement by changing the tribes' conf files.

Tasks

  • Create the feedback forms; collect feedback on the feedback forms to make sure they are understandable
  • Figure out a way for users to submit their feedback in private, so that others are not unduly influenced
  • Announce the feedback period on the mailing list, front page, and various forums
  • Evaluate the results

Feedback forms

I suggest we first work on the feedback form for only one tribe, so that boilerplate stuff can then be just copied&pasted.

Example explaining the Card Sorting method

We are asking you to find an assignment of items into categories, and a sorting of items inside these categories. We will rearrange the in-game menus showing lists of wares accordingly, to improve usability by showing related wares together. As an example, suppose you are given the following list of items:

* Apple
* BMW
* Carrot
* Cucumber
* Ferrari
* Orange
* Tomato
* Renault

You might decide to put them into categories "Fruit", "Vegetables", and "Cars" and arrange them as follows:

* Fruit
** Apple
** Orange
* Vegetables
** Carrot
** Cucumber
** Tomato
* Cars
** Renault
** BMW
** Ferrari

Here the categories "Fruit" and "Vegetables" are next to each other because they're both food (note that there is only one level of categories: there is no higher "Food" category to combine them). The food categories themselves are sorted alphabetically in this case, but perhaps you would want to sort them based on which fruit or vegetables you like most. The category with the cars is sorted according to the price of the cars.

There are of course many possible arrangements; for example, you could have put the "Cars" category before the food categories. There is no wrong answer in Card Sorting. We are simply asking for your opinion as to which arrangement you think is best.

Atlanteans

~~~~ How often have you played a game as this tribe? [ ] Never [ ] 1-5 times [ ] 11+ times

Please read the example explaining the Card Sorting method. Then sort the following wares into the categories and in the order that you personally believe is best. There are no wrong answers: We are looking for your honest opinion to improve Widelands for you.

  • Advanced Shield
  • Bakingtray
  • Blackroot Flour
  • Blackroot
  • Bread
  • Buckets
  • Coal
  • Cornflour
  • Corn
  • Diamond
  • Double Trident
  • Fire Tongs
  • Fishing Net
  • Fish
  • Golden Tabard
  • Gold Ore
  • Gold
  • Gold Yarn
  • Hammer
  • Heavy Double Trident
  • Hook pole
  • Hunting Bow
  • Iron Ore
  • Iron
  • Light trident
  • Long Trident
  • Meat
  • Milking Tongs
  • Quartz
  • Pick
  • Planks
  • Saw
  • Scythe
  • Shovel
  • Smoked fish
  • Smoked meat
  • Spidercloth
  • Spideryarn
  • Steel Shield
  • Steel Trident
  • Stone
  • Tabard
  • Trunk
  • Water

If you have any comments about the categories and orderings you have created, please add them here:

For the concept that you have in mind, would it hurt to have a double mentioning of some wares? No matter how you form the categories there are some wares (I.e. water) that are likely to appear in more than one.