User Testing the uPortal Layout Manager

erin.yu at erin.yu at
Fri Feb 15 08:06:32 UTC 2008

I like those ideas too, Justin.
it probably doesn't mean portlet layout changes will be modal...

I have a preference for keeping it non-modal, because it's something  
users should have easy access to anytime they want. They should be  
able to move things around without having to enter a mode.

I think providing multiple indicators (grabby hand, 4way arrow icon,  
alt text) and visually distinguishing movable/locked portlets would  
sufficiently indicate to the users which portlets can be moved and  
how. For it to be modal, we'd have to make sure it's very  
discoverable, obvious when you're in the mode and how to get out of  
it, clear that you can only do certain things in it.

On another note, it's so helpful how the user testing results are  
organized on the wiki page. Good practice I should follow :)


Quoting Colin Clark <colin.clark at>:

> Justin,
> This is an intruiging idea. So to make this work , are you thinking
> that portlet layout changes will be modal? Would the user invoke a
> specific mode to reorganize portlets, and then turn it off again to go
> about their regular business?
> Colin
> Quoting Justin Obara <infielder6 at>:
>> Hello,
>> Here are some thoughts that I had on the usability issues. Not sure
>> how feasible they are, but thought they might lead to some good ideas.
>> In regards to helping users to distinguish which portlets are
>> movable and which aren't, user 2 suggested changing the framing of
>> the movable portlets.
>> What may be one option is to make the movable portlets appear to
>> float above the screen (e.g. with a drop shadow), while leaving the
>> locked
>> portlets flat against the background. This might help the user
>> realize which ones are movable and which are anchored in place.
>> In regards to the drop target:
>> Part of the issue is that the dragged portlet obscures the drop
>> target indicator, especially when the title bar is over top of it.
>> Maybe, in addition to the drop target appearing the styling of the
>> dragged portlet can also change (e.g. framed in green, the
>> opacity level changed, or etc.)
>> Thanks
>> Justin
>> On 14-Feb-08, Barbara Glover wrote:
>> Seems I forgot the all important link :-)
>> +Results
>>> 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
>>> enough.
>>> - 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
>>> thanks
>>> Barbara
> ---
> Colin Clark
> Technical Lead, Fluid Project
> Adaptive Technology Resource Centre, University of Toronto
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> fluid-work at

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