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XG Semantics User-interface Issues

Posted By: Michael Petch
Date: Thursday, 27 February 2014, at 4:13 a.m.

In Response To: XG Semantics User-interface Issues (Taper_Mike)

I think there are two distinct problems. Simplifying the UI for beginners, and correct terminology for Experts. The UI for a beginner would probably be better without any of the analysis mumbo jumbo. Most novices will want to either play against the computer and/or have it help (tutor) as you go along. The tutor mode should be kept simple in a novice mode. I probably wouldn't use the word equity anywhere in it (Expert mode - different story). You could remove the equity differences between plays and just give a verbal accounting of the difference "bad, very bad, good, excellent" - forget meaningless (to a novice) numbers.

Mike wrote: "Those who are new to backgammon or XG, should have no problem figuring out a choice between "Individual games" and "Match play.". Not quite sure about that either: About 6 weeks ago we started the Calgary "Social" Backgammon Club and we have had a couple get togethers already. I can tell you that one for the newer players I taught didn't quite understand the difference between a single game and a match (I never mentioned the word money). It wasn't necessarily obvious to them at the outset. A novice probably doesn't have any idea about the doubling cube, so should it even be present (ie. Have them play single matches only). They could move up to Match play after, at which point they would be introduced to the cube.

I think there is a basic knowledge that you have to assume when it comes to someone trying out a Backgammon product like XG. In novice mode, forget about the statistics, and forget about "Unlimited Game". If you want someone to know how to play a single game you could call it "Quick Game" (which experts may know as a 1 pointer).

A walk through (computer assisted learning) tutorial that teaches the basics would likely be a good option.

I think the interface should be split. An easy/novice mode that remains consistent with terminology, and an advanced mode that remains consistent (in that mode). Novice mode made be dumbed down, but an expert will likely be the ones who know/care about the differences.

One thing about user interfaces having worked on numerous client facing projects - You can spend all the time in the world creating mock ups and UI requirements (based on user input/ideas/feedback), User specifications, functional requirements - but you will never please everyone. There will always be some that just don't fall in typical use cases. If you spend time catering to absolutely every one, you can end up wasting considerable time that is better spent elsewhere. I'm not saying UI design is wasteful, but trying to please *everyone* generally is.

If Xavier wants to create a UI for novices he should not be dealing with people who frequent BGO. We are biased. Developers *generally* don't make good UI designers for their own projects because they often want to write a product that best suits their work flow - not others. With larger teams the UI designers are usually decoupled from the back end and business logic developers.

Xavier should be seeking feedback from the people who have tried the product and especially those who couldn't figure it out (Reviews, feedback etc). How many beginners can't start a game and give up? Those are the people Xavier should speak to.

So I agree with the idea of consistency, but I do not agree that the expert and novice usage should be one in the same. Menus with millions of options are probably not a good thing for novices. A slick "button to task" model with minimal menus would likely be ideal for novices. This type of UI also lends itself well to Win8 touch screens if you support Metro. Experts may hate it, but then you allow them to use a different mode that suits them better,

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