Dolphin7 and HCI (Human–computer interaction)

MichelSwiss posted 27th of July 2009 in Community Voice. 19 comments.

I have no doubt of that technical bugs will be solved, sooner or later...


But the main problem with this BoonEx product still has never been solved, on the contrary this problem is growing worse... This is the HCI (Human–computer interaction - Software ergonomics).


For example, most of the users they like to customize their profile will search in the profile submenu... Who will search in the profile Actions menu block (which has to be renamed Interactions) ???

To multiply the number of menus (main navigation, submenu, actions... and now this floating thing). to multiply the kind of pictures (profile, shared, album, avatar...) or using esoteric labels to name buttons or fields is certainly not a solution, but just getting these ergonomics problems worse.


Andrew asked us to report stupid things... As for me I'd like to denounce him for the opposite reason: Andrew is too clever to figure problems that end users (members of Dolphin sites) with an average or less than average IQ could have when browsing such sites ! :-)


If you have any remarks or suggestions to improve Dolphin7 HCI, please post your comments here ;-)




Principles of User Interface Design are intended to improve the quality of user interface design. These principles are:

  • The structure principle: Design should organize the user interface purposefully, in meaningful and useful ways based on clear, consistent models that are apparent and recognizable to users, putting related things together and separating unrelated things, differentiating dissimilar things and making similar things resemble one another. The structure principle is concerned with overall user interface architecture.
  • The simplicity principle: The design should make simple, common tasks easy, communicating clearly and simply in the user's own language, and providing good shortcuts that are meaningfully related to longer procedures.
  • The visibility principle: The design should make all needed options and materials for a given task visible without distracting the user with extraneous or redundant information. Good designs don't overwhelm users with alternatives or confuse with unneeded information.
  • The feedback principle: The design should keep users informed of actions or interpretations, changes of state or condition, and errors or exceptions that are relevant and of interest to the user through clear, concise, and unambiguous language familiar to users.
  • The tolerance principle: The design should be flexible and tolerant, reducing the cost of mistakes and misuse by allowing undoing and redoing, while also preventing errors wherever possible by tolerating varied inputs and sequences and by interpreting all reasonable actions.
  • The reuse principle: The design should reuse internal and external components and behaviors, maintaining consistency with purpose rather than merely arbitrary consistency, thus reducing the need for users to rethink and remember.


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Okay, I actually have to agree with you here. D7 is far more complicated from the end users side than D6 ever was. I hate to use the word, but it's true, D7 is becoming as complicated as Facebook & Myspace from the end users position.

Keep in mind, I can't figure out half the stuff on those sites and I'm far from being an average user. Perhaps we can turn this software over to a bunch of 40 year olds and give us complete freedom on how it should appear at the end users point. Write it see more however complicated you want, just make the thing easy for us understand.
Well im so glad that two respected members have said this, ive been wanting to say it for a while. D7 for the end user is wayyyy too complicated now. All these new features are great,but in my experience no user, unless they are totally dedicated to your site is going to take the time or be much bothered to go through all the menu options, its mind bending...
I cant see the users im aiming for (middle aged, not that computer savvy) ever being able to use D7 as it stands,not without a steep learning see more curve anyway. Ive shown it a couple of users and they just go "OMG! how you supposed to find anything..." and really, i have to agree with that from the end users point of view


I must agree with what Michel said..
And I will also say that the main menu is a nightmare for most users, if we look at D6 and we now look on D7 you can see what I mean.. The navigation is not fluid anymore, everything is stacked to the max..
Try to use the D7 beta2 with a 1024x768 resolution.. you can't.. we should remember that this resolution is still used by a vast ammount of people..
A first step will be to make the main menu smaller in height and scrollable just as windows start > all see more programs work when the menu is not fitting the screen area.. and also we need some more clear names in the menus..
What about templates?

Having a simple overstated layout with the most popular features, areas and then having an extended template with mid features, for the advanced user and finally having a hardcore template for extreme users with every feature/area.
After playing sometime with D7 i come to the same. I'am already more then 24 years buzy with computers and bulletin boards and more. But also I have some trubbles with facebook :)
Also D7 is for normal users not easy to navigate!!
yes I love it, but we have to think on our end users. Its to overwelmed (if I say this right?)
Some good points, but the navigation is customizable through the admin panel. The way I see it - you are offered the flexibility to be able to layout the navigation as you perceive is correct. Everyone's view on how to do this will differ, as it is governed by both perception and need.

Need - your site may only need a common gallery for all to post to, whereas the next site is a site for aspiring artists who each need their own gallery.

Perception - it is driven by the culture that you live see more in / frequent - This will also be different for different demographics.

Designing an intuitive interface is largely reliant by these two baseline principles

It is hard to provide a 'one size fits all' package that works for everyone 'right out of the box'.
Andrew Boon
The navigation menu is customizable. We have trying every trick possible to make it work, and it's now obvious that everyone's perception is different. Just like I hear complains about Facebook, MySpace, etc Dolphin menu structure may or may not work for you - that's why we made it customizable.

Anyway, we're very open for suggestion on new layouts/structures. "Don't know how, but not this way" just doesn't cut it.
First problem for common Internet user is with the Avatar croper (difficulty to select the square from a border of the image). Some labels (fields names) are not clear and are adding confusion, too many options in some features (for example: position of borders in the profile customizer...), undiscoverable link to some feature (for example: Customize button in Actions menu block rather than in Profile menu or features placed under Dashboard rather than in Profile submenu), design of some page (especially see more Profile page - infos, medias,... that belong to the profile have to be developed), some quick links are missing to browser from one page to another without to have to use the navigation menu ever time..., floating menu that overlap the bottom menu, "Your Status Message" or buttons like "Create Event" that overlap menu options,...

Andrew, why not try to ask some of your friends who are not programmers to browser Dolphin, give them some tasks to do... and see the problems they will encounter ???
Lot of common Internet users don't share your logic, are lost in front of pages with so many options...
... From main menu, People - All Memmbers: in the block By Country, countries are displayed in random order (could be in alphabetical order) and international codes are used rather than the full name of the county... Number of countries (flag + code) are not identifiable.
And this long list is really ugly :-)
Avatar thing - Why not to ask the new subscriber to firstly upload a profile picture, then display this profile picture in the Avatar croper ?
Many ergonomics problems are difficult to describe (at least with my basic english) because they are more subjective than objective (feeling or habits of the end user).
I started a thread in the forums in an attempt to discuss the very same issues:

No one is offering any suggestion in that one either. The problem here is everyone likes to complain, but very, very few like to present better ideas.

Personally, I think the D7 user interface is just fine. It's wrong in a few places, but nothing that can't be fixed.

There are quite a few complex sites with mass appeal. see more Go have a look at or Those 2 sites have a lot going do a lot of other sites.

I don't think Dolphin should be "Dumbed down" to accommodate the most inexperienced of internet user. Remember the old saying: "Build a system that even a fool can use, then only fools will use it."
Well I have to agree with both Michel and Houston, while I was a bit surprised to see the difference in the menu between 6 and 7. I would like to make the following observations.
1. No we should not "dumb down" Dolphin but working on a site you soon knows where everything is and the same might not be so obvious to a visitor, and since we all want to convert visitors into members, the easier the better.
2. The menu is customizable and while it might require a bit more work, it will differentiate see more a site from another. I regret that some many Dolphin sites are installed "as is" (not even the About us page is changed)
3. Mydattery, I am one of these 40 years old guy you mentioned, I can defend myself versus them 14 years old on building sites, but for the life of me I can't make sense of Myspace.
4. In the past you would see sites with a navbar on the top and the same navbar on the left and on the bottom, things have evolved and to defend D7, several options to reach the page might satisfy a wider range of users. While someone might like to click here someone might look for the link somewhere else
Well remain to be seen, I guess we will know when several D7 are up and running, would be interesting to revisit this blog in a few months
I dont think there is a need to dumb down the menu, but (and i dont know if this is possible), it would be good to have two types of menu status, like you do with the search. As in "search" or "advanced search" that way new members could use the basic site, then as they got used to it, they could switch over to the advanced menu system.


I take back everything I said in my post above. It's not that Dolphin is too complex.... it just doesn't fit together smoothly, and a lot of things make no sense. There's still a lot of work to do here.

I just wrote a ticket regarding the Files module, because I wanted to uninstall it but couldn't because the Groups module has to be uninstalled first?????? Huh????

Sure I want members to upload photos, videos, and music, but I don't want them to be able to upload any other types of files.... see more why is this all tied together? If you are going to make this modular, lose all the module inter-dependencies.

MichelSwiss is right. Dolphin 7 just doesn't 'Flow'. Andrew Boon, I think it's time to call in a professional consulting service to evaluate the Dolphin 7 user interface and logical flow of things. There's too many things wrong at once...
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