Based on a very high frequency of questioners that either can't find, don't understand, or don't have access to the "Add Comment" button, I have to ask, is the UI on this overly complicated? It seems fairly obvious to me that there are comments and answers, and that each has seperate meaning and function, but it seems to be very difficult for a lot of people to grasp. Even after it's pointed out to people, multiple times, they seem to have difficulty with the concepts. So my question is, is the UI overly complicated. Could there be some method of making the "Add Comment" more prominent and understandable as the mechanism for response.
Personally, I think it's because the "Answer" text box is so very prominent and inviting. It's just easier to drop into it and start typing. Maybe we need to make that require a button press as well?
I'm not sure, but the conversations lately have been very difficult to follow, especially since, as Answers acquire votes, their position within the stack changes, which completely breaks down the flow of information. Frankly it's making the site frustrating to use.
There's a lot of brain power here, what should we do?
asked Jul 22 '10 at 04:21 AM in Default
Grant Fritchey ♦♦
Grant, I don't remember exactly, but as I remember, if you are a new user, you cannot post a comment unless you have earned some reputation (I think it is 10 points).
So one problem is for new users to put comments even they want. They have no other possibility than posting new answer.
I would suggest making the answer box a bit smaller, and reduce the size of the font where it says "Be the first one to answer this question!" - it's just a bit too inviting. Also, maybe hide the preview by default.
Also make the "add new comment" button bigger and brighter. It seems to me that it's all too easy to skip over it when doing a quick scan of the page. I've caught myself several times typing an answer when I meant to be typing a comment!
Are there any UI experts in the house?
The "add comment" button is also poorly positioned - because it's right at the bottom of an answer block, below the author's gravatar & stats, it can very easily look as though it's relating to the information that's below, rather than above...
Actually, the way StackExchange handles it is that when you click the 'post your answer' button, it says 'are you sure you want to answer your own question?' - which in itself is poor UI design, because people have already expended the effort in typing the answer.
I think a good way to handle it would be for the 'Your answer' panel to be folded (much like the new comment panels are folded) if you either:
That way, when they clicked on the 'Add answer' button, it could alert them to the fact that it probably wasn't the right thing to do before they go and type in everything they want to say.
However, I am sure that people will continue to answer, whatever we do. And anyway, 32K of unformatted stack trace doesn't fit in a comment!
answered Jul 22 '10 at 04:45 AM
Matt Whitfield ♦♦
I agree with a lot of the sentiments on here.
Fold the answers preview and add an Answer This Question button.
Change the add new comment text to Comment On This Answer and maybe slide it over to the left-hand side.
Additionally, use the same size and bordering as the Post Your Answer button for both.
answered Jul 22 '10 at 05:14 AM
A thought - we more experienced users can't really test this site for usability issues, because we know our way around it. What it needs is someone with a vaguely forum-experienced friend / SO / colleague to look at the site and see how they interact with it. (I would get my wife to have a go, but she's on holiday...)
I've not actually tried yet, but, when you ask a question, is there a message at the end of that process telling you (if it's your first question, or if your rep/karma is below a threshold, or you're a n00b) how to deal with answers / comments / upvotes / ticking the right answer / how answers are sorted? If not, why not?