User Testing the uPortal Layout Manager

Barbara Glover barbara.glover at
Thu Feb 14 16:17:50 UTC 2008

Hi all
I have completed 4 user tests of the Portlet Layout Manager.  The  
results are at this link.

You will see from the user testing that people are having troubles  
realizing they can move portlets at all.

Other issues we need to address in the design are:

Locked Portlets:
- how to convey to user a portlet is locked.  Cursor change is not  
- where should a "lock" icon be placed?  Upper left corner of  
titlebar is not a good location.
- Tooltip text is helpful but first must see the icon.  Could move  
the icon to the middle of title bar or to the right corner.
- Tool tip/hover text saying "section cannot be moved" could be if  
they hover anywhere on title bar
- Could remove title bar from locked portlets as Shaw-han has suggested

Drop target indicators:
- green bar is too small and not being noticed enough
- maybe make it thicker and with an arrow indicating where portlet  
will go

These are the big usability issues found.  We need to make changes to  
improve these usability issues before the portlet layout manager is  
released.  Let's have a discussion early next week.  I notice Gary  
has some new design ideas too.

Gary we'd love to have you participate in this meeting.  What are  
some times that work for you?

Everyone send me your times and let's get rid of these usability  
issues! :-)

Suggested time: Wednesday, Feb 20th at 10am PST / 1pm EST


On 13-Feb-08, at 3:41 PM, Gary Thompson wrote:

> All,
> I'm sorry if there has been any confusion.  The credit for the drag  
> and drop mockups:
> +Mockups
> ...goes entirely to Shaw-Han, who put those together.  The basic  
> portal "design" he used is taken from my mockups of tab reordering.
> With uPortal, no university takes the out-of-the-box look, and so  
> when I design for uPortal, I use a "generic portal" for concepts,  
> which is what is presented (the all-grey MyPortal).  This generic  
> portal version of uPortal should not affect the user testing as it  
> relates to the layout reordering.
> The new theme that I am working on for uPortal 3 is still under  
> development.  The snapshot I forwarded to Shaw-Han was to let him  
> see the markup so he could plan for the reorderer integration.  I  
> have attached a mockup the design I am aiming for in the uPortal 3  
> theme to this email (note that this mockup includes several forward- 
> looking feature ideas that will not be in the release).
> The great information being discovered from the layout manager user  
> testing should still be valid as the interaction will still be the  
> same.
> I'd be glad to discuss it further if anyone is still confused  
> (which might be me :)
> Gary
> Barbara Glover wrote:
>> We have one more user test scheduled for tomorrow at 10am EST.
>> As far as I was aware the mockup uses the skin as Shaw-Han mentioned.
>> We are learning some useful information from the user tests even  
>> if the mockup is not identical to the original design by Gary.
>> We have found out that:
>> - we need something more than just a cursor change to denote  
>> locked portlets
>> - placement of a locked icon is important.  The upper left side of  
>> the locked portlet title bar does not seem to be a noticeable place.
>> - the green bar indicator has worked for most people but one  
>> person did not notice it too much and we may want to make it bigger
>> - we have uncovered a few bugs as well
>> In my experience I've done iterative user testing as designs  
>> evolve until we arrive at the final design.  Shaw-Han has a good  
>> idea we can try for the user test tomorrow just to get some  
>> feedback on and that is to remove the header from the locked  
>> portlet so it appears different from the others.
>> I agree that doing further user testing after tomorrow might not  
>> help but I'd like to see how Shaw-Han's idea works with the user  
>> we already have scheduled.
>> We have no further people scheduled or interested, so this is  
>> probably all the user testing we'll be able to do on this component.
>> cheers
>> Barbara
>> On 13-Feb-08, at 1:25 PM, Shaw-Han Liem wrote:
>>> Hi guys,
>>> As far as i know this is the latest uPortal skin from Gary (the  
>>> mockups you saw earlier I think were an 'imaginary' uPortal  
>>> instance, but this is the actual skin that will go into uPortal).
>>> I'm cc'ing Gary on this as well so we can get a definitive answer ;)
>>> thanks
>>> Shaw-Han
>>> Allison Bloodworth wrote:
>>>> Hi guys, Daphne and I would like to understand why the prototype  
>>>> is different from Gary's design mock-up (e.g. color, "Maximize"  
>>>> links vs. icons). If it doesn't represent the final design, we'd  
>>>> recommend holding off on scheduling any more user tests (since  
>>>> it's so hard to find time and users to do them with in the first  
>>>> place.) Would it be possible to set up a time to meet and talk  
>>>> about this tomorrow (I think Daphne is swamped today)?
>>>> Thanks!
>>>> Allison Begin forwarded message:
>>>>> *From: *Daphne Ogle <daphne at  
>>>>> <mailto:daphne at>>
>>>>> *Date: *February 13, 2008 9:52:52 AM PST
>>>>> *To: *Colin Clark <colin.clark at  
>>>>> <mailto:colin.clark at>>
>>>>> *Cc: *Shaw-Han Liem <shawhan.liem at  
>>>>> <mailto:shawhan.liem at>>, "fluid- 
>>>>> work at <mailto:fluid-work at>"  
>>>>> <fluid-work at <mailto:fluid- 
>>>>> work at>>, Allison Bloodworth  
>>>>> <abloodworth at <mailto:abloodworth at>>
>>>>> *Subject: **Re: User Testing the uPortal Layout Manager*
>>>>> A couple comments...
>>>>> Can the drop location indicator be larger?  It's difficult to  
>>>>> see, especially as you are dragging a portlet over the drop  
>>>>> location.  It indicator line is only about 1/4 of the length of  
>>>>> the drop area now, could the line go all the way across the  
>>>>> horizontal space?
>>>>> As portlets are dragged, they seem to grow in size making it  
>>>>> again difficult to tell where the drop options are and where it  
>>>>> will be dropped.  Is this a know bug?
>>>>> I'm on Firefox.
>>>>> -Daphne
>>>>> On Feb 13, 2008, at 8:28 AM, Colin Clark wrote:
>>>>>> Hi Shaw-Han,
>>>>>> On 13-Feb-08, at 10:48 AM, Shaw-Han Liem wrote:
>>>>>>> The current design we are testing (based on Gary Thompson's  
>>>>>>> great new
>>>>>>> uPortal skin) can be found here:
>>>>>>> (caution: the mockups have only been tested in firefox)
>>>>>> I just gave the mockup a quick test in IE 6 and it is working  
>>>>>> fine. I get two errors when the page first loads--these errors  
>>>>>> are also thrown in FireFox--about two undefined global  
>>>>>> variables that the uPortal Dojo code is relying on. While  
>>>>>> globals in a portal are a little scary, this is just a by- 
>>>>>> product of running the mockup outside the context of uPortal  
>>>>>> and isn't a problem.
>>>>>> Colin
>>>>>> ---
>>>>>> Colin Clark
>>>>>> Technical Lead, Fluid Project
>>>>>> Adaptive Technology Resource Centre, University of Toronto
>>>>> Daphne Ogle
>>>>> Senior Interaction Designer
>>>>> University of California, Berkeley
>>>>> Educational Technology Services
>>>>> daphne at <mailto:daphne at>
>>>>> cell (510)847-0308
>>>> Allison Bloodworth
>>>> Senior User Interaction Designer
>>>> Educational Technology Services
>>>> University of California, Berkeley
>>>> (415) 377-8243
>>>> abloodworth at <mailto:abloodworth at>
>>> -- 
>>> Shaw-Han Liem
>>> Adaptive Technology Resource Centre
>>> University of Toronto
>>> shawhan.liem at / 416-946-0423
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