the bookmarks toolbar as a bank of radio presets

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Myk Melez

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Dec 21, 2006, 5:02:15 AM12/21/06
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I had a thought while driving home from work this evening about how we
might make adding bookmarks to the bookmarks toolbar more discoverable
and usable for non-technical users.

My mother never adds bookmarks to her bookmarks toolbar, even though
I've shown her how to do it (via drag-and-drop of the favicon, which
seemed the easiest to grok), and even though there are a handful of
sites she visits frequently by painstakingly retyping their URLs (into
the Google search box, as it turns out).

But she does know how to hold down the preset buttons on her car radio
to save a radio station so she can return to it later. What if there
was a mode in which the bookmarks toolbar appeared and behaved like a
bank of radio presets?

In the mode, the toolbar would display some predetermined number of
buttons. By default, the buttons would be labeled something generic,
like "Page 1", "Page 2", etc.

But clicking the buttons would load a page explaining how to set them,
and setting them would work the way it does on a radio: you just click
on the button and hold it down until you hear a beep.

We shouldn't take the metaphor too far, of course. It's not important
or valuable to make the toolbar behave exactly like a radio. The key is
just to harness a common real-world interface technique familiar to many
non-technical users in order to introduce bookmarking to them.

So we would still allow undo and change the button label to reflect the
page's title, even though that doesn't happen to radio presets. And it
probably doesn't make sense to implement multiple sets of presets, even
though radios typically have two banks of FM presets.

Thoughts?

-myk

Gervase Markham

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Dec 21, 2006, 7:04:34 AM12/21/06
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Myk Melez wrote:
> My mother never adds bookmarks to her bookmarks toolbar, even though
> I've shown her how to do it (via drag-and-drop of the favicon, which
> seemed the easiest to grok), and even though there are a handful of
> sites she visits frequently by painstakingly retyping their URLs (into
> the Google search box, as it turns out).

I still think we need to unify the two boxes, but that's a discussion
for another thread :-)

> But she does know how to hold down the preset buttons on her car radio
> to save a radio station so she can return to it later.

Sidenote: is this method of setting universal? Or do some radios
(perhaps in non-US countries) instead have a different UI for
preset-setting?

> In the mode, the toolbar would display some predetermined number of
> buttons. By default, the buttons would be labeled something generic,
> like "Page 1", "Page 2", etc.
>
> But clicking the buttons would load a page explaining how to set them,
> and setting them would work the way it does on a radio: you just click
> on the button and hold it down until you hear a beep.

And it would also, at the bottom, explain drag-drop, so they could use
it when they'd run out of presets.

Would click-hold to reset still work once the button had been set once?
If the hold period were something like three seconds, and it were
accompanied by a unique progressive cursor (so it was hard to trigger
accidentally when using the button), I think we could do this.

That way, even for an advanced user, if the bar is full, they just have
to choose a button they don't want and click-hold, instead of
right-click/Delete (or even going through Manage Bookmarks) /drag/arrange.

> So we would still allow undo and change the button label to reflect the
> page's title, even though that doesn't happen to radio presets. And it
> probably doesn't make sense to implement multiple sets of presets, even
> though radios typically have two banks of FM presets.

Indeed; I think they do so because of physical button count limitation
issues.

Gerv

Greg Campbell

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Dec 21, 2006, 4:12:56 PM12/21/06
to
Myk Melez wrote:
> In the mode, the toolbar would display some predetermined number of
> buttons. By default, the buttons would be labeled something generic,
> like "Page 1", "Page 2", etc.
>
> But clicking the buttons would load a page explaining how to set
> them, and setting them would work the way it does on a radio: you
> just click on the button and hold it down until you hear a beep.
>
> We shouldn't take the metaphor too far, of course. It's not
> important or valuable to make the toolbar behave exactly like a
> radio. The key is just to harness a common real-world interface
> technique familiar to many non-technical users in order to introduce
> bookmarking to them.

This seems to take the metaphor unnecessarily far. Why doesn't the
bookmarks toolbar simply have a big button that says "Bookmark this
site"? (Power users would find this button a waste of space, so it
should be removable.)


On a personal note, I've never understood the love so many developers
have about the bookmarks toolbar. I hate it. It takes up valuable
vertical space. It isn't wide enough to hold all my common bookmarks
without adding folders (which removes the ease of just "clicking a preset").

I have two locations I use for bookmarks:
1. Commonly used bookmarks
- I make a custom local page with the 30 or so places I visit most,
organized logically with BIG mouse targets for each link. I set this as
my home page. When I want one of these sites, I click (usually
middle-click to open a new tab) on the home button, then click the link.
Same number of clicks it takes with the bookmark toolbar + folders, but
without wasting the screen space. I suppose users who have only 6 or so
of these sites could use the bookmark toolbar for this purpose, if they
don't mind the lost screen real estate.

2. Rarely used bookmarks
- These I use Ctrl-D to add them to the bookmarks menu. I might get
around to organizing these once every few months. These are the sites I
find vaguely interesting and want to save in case I can't easily find
them by Google search again.

mcdav...@netscape.net

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Dec 22, 2006, 2:07:40 AM12/22/06
to
Myk Melez wrote:
> I had a thought while driving home from work this evening about how we
> might make adding bookmarks to the bookmarks toolbar more discoverable
> and usable for non-technical users.
>
> My mother never adds bookmarks to her bookmarks toolbar, even though
> I've shown her how to do it (via drag-and-drop of the favicon, which
> seemed the easiest to grok), and even though there are a handful of
> sites she visits frequently by painstakingly retyping their URLs (into
> the Google search box, as it turns out).

Did she happen to say why she does it this way? Why she doesn't use
bookmarks even though you showed her how? Did she ever really get it
in the first place? Did she not see the value? Could she not remember
how to do it when the time came? It sounds kind of like her mental
model of how to use a browser includes clicking, reading, and typing
into the Google search box and that's about it. And maybe the fear
that if you do something wrong you'll lose data without ever knowing
why. Is the painful typing of URLs not painful to her? Does she
simply trust Google to bring her the web she wants?

My mom is the same way. My dad was just telling me about how hard it
is to get my mom to practice good email hygiene with the email accounts
on Outlook. She doesn't want to pick up any new behaviors in that
regard, even if it's a matter of one extra keystroke or mouse click.

> Thoughts?
>

- Maybe some way to autopopulate open (unset) slots with either
most-recently-used or most-frequently-used addresses?
- The user interface would obviously have to be simple simple simple
... which probably rules out any configuration options at all. If they
can't figure out how to use bookmarks then you couldn't ask them to do
much else to get this to work.
- Maybe package it is as an extension "bookmarks for new users"
(installed by dutiful sons for their mothers and by experienced users
for novices) which includes all the related functionality like the big
"bookmark this page" button you talked about.
- Bookmarks for new users ... bookmarks for novices ... bookmarks for
dummies ... maybe a cobranding and comarketing opportunity with a
certain book publisher? Buy the Firefox book, get a free set of
extensions aimed specifically at novice users. Mozilla gets the right
to offer a set of extensions using the "Dummies" name.

Myk Melez

unread,
Dec 24, 2006, 12:23:12 AM12/24/06
to
Gervase Markham wrote:

> I still think we need to unify the two boxes, but that's a discussion
> for another thread :-)

Right.


>> But she does know how to hold down the preset buttons on her car radio
>> to save a radio station so she can return to it later.
>
>
> Sidenote: is this method of setting universal? Or do some radios
> (perhaps in non-US countries) instead have a different UI for
> preset-setting?

I'm not sure. But I'm in Hungary at the moment meeting friends driving
French, German, and American-sold-in-Europe cars, so I'll scout some of
the European market, anyway.


>> But clicking the buttons would load a page explaining how to set them,
>> and setting them would work the way it does on a radio: you just click
>> on the button and hold it down until you hear a beep.
>
>
> And it would also, at the bottom, explain drag-drop, so they could use
> it when they'd run out of presets.

That's not entirely clear to me. Perhaps there's a simpler way to
expose preset adding that doesn't require users to learn both drag and
drop and also how the favicon is a proxy for the page.

For example, we could put plus and minus buttons at one end of the
toolbar. Pressing plus adds a preset, while pressing minus removes one.

And perhaps pressing plus after minus adds the preset previously
removed, so that presets don't actually get deleted, they just move
offscreen.


> Would click-hold to reset still work once the button had been set once?

Since we're trying to take advantage of user familiarity with the radio
interface, and this is a key element of it, we probably should let users
click-hold to set a preset button multiple times.

Otherwise we'd have to teach them "remove" and "add" semantics much
sooner, and the more training users need up front to use the feature,
the less likely they will be to pick it up.


> If the hold period were something like three seconds, and it were
> accompanied by a unique progressive cursor (so it was hard to trigger
> accidentally when using the button), I think we could do this.

Although it isn't part of the standard radio interface, this sounds like
a good way to improve the experience.


> That way, even for an advanced user, if the bar is full, they just have
> to choose a button they don't want and click-hold, instead of
> right-click/Delete (or even going through Manage Bookmarks) /drag/arrange.

Right. It's unclear to me how popular an interface like this would be
for power users, but if there's value for that audience, then it's worth
including functionality that would make the feature useful to them,
provided doing so doesn't compromise the experience for the
non-technical users who are its primary target.

-myk

Myk Melez

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Dec 24, 2006, 12:50:29 AM12/24/06
to
Greg Campbell wrote:

> Why doesn't the
> bookmarks toolbar simply have a big button that says "Bookmark this
> site"? (Power users would find this button a waste of space, so it
> should be removable.)

That might make it clearer that you can add a bookmark to the toolbar,
but it requires users to understand what a "bookmark" is, and it doesn't
provide any easier to understand mechanisms for removing bookmarks,
reordering them, or replacing one bookmark with another.


> On a personal note, I've never understood the love so many developers
> have about the bookmarks toolbar. I hate it. It takes up valuable
> vertical space. It isn't wide enough to hold all my common bookmarks
> without adding folders (which removes the ease of just "clicking a
> preset").

I'm not sure what you mean by the love developers have for the toolbar,
but offhand I'd say that although it does take up precious vertical
space, both it and the bookmarks sidebar provide a facility that your
home page of links does not, which is persistent one-click access to
frequently-used bookmarks.

Sure, the toolbar may not scale to all the bookmarks you'd like it to,
but that doesn't mean that one-click access to some of them isn't useful
and should be removed in favor of two-click only access.

Also, note that non-technical users are more likely to have fewer
bookmarks and less likely to organize them into folders (even if doing
so would benefit them), so they won't necessarily encounter the problems
you experience with the toolbar.


> I have two locations I use for bookmarks:
> 1. Commonly used bookmarks
> - I make a custom local page with the 30 or so places I visit most,
> organized logically with BIG mouse targets for each link. I set this as
> my home page.

That sounds useful for someone able and willing to construct such a page
(and who doesn't mind that none of his bookmarks are immediately
available), but I suspect that most non-technical users are not only not
able to author such a page themselves, they're also not particularly
interested in doing so, preferring a simpler mechanism for saving a page
they'd like to get back to later.

Perhaps it would make sense to expose an interface for users to create
their own home page, including adding links to frequently-visited sites.
But even if we did that, and we made it simple enough for
non-technical users to use, I think a better bookmarks toolbar for those
users would probably still make sense, both because it gives them
one-click access and because we'd able to implement it much sooner.


> 2. Rarely used bookmarks
> - These I use Ctrl-D to add them to the bookmarks menu. I might get
> around to organizing these once every few months. These are the sites I
> find vaguely interesting and want to save in case I can't easily find
> them by Google search again.

I do this, too, and while it's not addressed by this proposal, there
have been some suggestions for improving the usability of this use case
once Places lands for bookmarks.

-myk

Myk Melez

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Dec 24, 2006, 1:16:10 AM12/24/06
to
mcdav...@netscape.net wrote:

> Did she happen to say why she does it this way? Why she doesn't use
> bookmarks even though you showed her how? Did she ever really get it
> in the first place? Did she not see the value? Could she not remember
> how to do it when the time came?

I'm not sure. In general, the simplicity of the procedure, the degree
of precision required, and how frequently she wants to perform the task
in question seem to be big factors in whether or not she remembers how
to do some task I show her how to do.

Walking her through it instead of doing it myself also seems to make a
difference, and it also seems to help when she takes notes for herself
about the procedure (i.e. which UI elements she clicked on, what
happened next, etc.). I've noticed a couple other non-technical users
do that, too.

She does see the value of bookmarking sites, as she was just complaining
to me a few days ago about the pain of going back to the same sites
repeatedly. Without mentioning our past conversations about bookmarks,
I asked her if she thought it would be useful to be able to add buttons
to her browser for her favorite sites that she could click on to go
directly to them.

She said she thought it would.


> - Maybe some way to autopopulate open (unset) slots with either
> most-recently-used or most-frequently-used addresses?

Some folks have suggested this before, and it seems like a promising
avenue for exploration.


> - The user interface would obviously have to be simple simple simple
> ... which probably rules out any configuration options at all. If they
> can't figure out how to use bookmarks then you couldn't ask them to do
> much else to get this to work.

Right. I'm not too worried about lack of configurability. The one
option it might be useful to be able to configure is how many presets
appear on the toolbar. As I mentioned in an earlier response, perhaps
this could be accomplished with plus and minus buttons that add and
remove presets.


> - Maybe package it is as an extension "bookmarks for new users"
> (installed by dutiful sons for their mothers and by experienced users
> for novices) which includes all the related functionality like the big
> "bookmark this page" button you talked about.

Sure, an extension is a good place to prototype this.


> - Bookmarks for new users ... bookmarks for novices ... bookmarks for
> dummies ... maybe a cobranding and comarketing opportunity with a
> certain book publisher? Buy the Firefox book, get a free set of
> extensions aimed specifically at novice users. Mozilla gets the right
> to offer a set of extensions using the "Dummies" name.

Heh. I should think that our standard user experience would include
simple interfaces for novice users in addition to advanced interfaces
for power users when it comes to core functionality. In fact, I'd
rather have a power user pack than a novice user pack, since power users
are better suited to installing an extension pack, although I think we
can accommodate both groups of users in many cases.

-myk

Peter Lairo

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Dec 26, 2006, 3:42:35 PM12/26/06
to
mcdav...@netscape.net wrote:
> - Maybe some way to autopopulate open (unset) slots with either
> most-recently-used or most-frequently-used addresses?

Yes it has. IIRC:

- Bookmarks" are automatically added to the Bookmarks Toolbar based on
frequency and recency of visits.

- Manually added toolbar-bookmarks cannot be replaced with "auto-bookmarks".

- "auto-bookmarks" can be auto-replaced by *more* frequently used URLs.

- "auto-bookmarks" are only added if there is enough space left from the
manually added bookmarks.

Simple. Effective. ;-)

Someone *please* create a bug (yet another RFE that will never get
fixed) before these ideas are lost again.
--
Regards,

Peter Lairo

The browser you can trust: www.GetFirefox.com
Reclaim Your Inbox: www.GetThunderbird.com

Andy Mabbett

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Dec 29, 2006, 7:29:04 AM12/29/06
to
In message <Y8WdnS-OHIczxhfY...@mozilla.org>, Myk Melez
<m...@mozilla.org> writes

>I had a thought while driving home from work this evening about how we
>might make adding bookmarks to the bookmarks toolbar more discoverable
>and usable for non-technical users.

What about a button, next to the address bar, labelled "save" or
"bookmark", or with an icon of a book with a bookmark protruding from
it?

This could then launch a "which of the [n] pre-sets do you want to save
this bookmark in?" dialogue.

--
Andy Mabbett
* Say "NO!" to compulsory ID Cards: <http://www.no2id.net/>
* Free Our Data: <http://www.freeourdata.org.uk>
* Are you using Microformats, yet: <http://microformats.org/> ?

Justin Dolske

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Dec 31, 2006, 12:02:14 AM12/31/06
to
Myk Melez wrote:

> That might make it clearer that you can add a bookmark to the toolbar,
> but it requires users to understand what a "bookmark" is, and it doesn't
> provide any easier to understand mechanisms for removing bookmarks,
> reordering them, or replacing one bookmark with another.

It's also a function that's not part of the user's task flow. Someone
unfamiliar with bookmarks probably isn't going to be looking at the
bookmark toolbar after clicking a link or entering a new URL. They might
stumble across it while using the browser, but you could make the same
argument for the "Bookmarks" menu and "Add Bookmark" menuitem.

I suspect users tend to be focused on the task at hand, and not thinking
too much about optimizing their browsing actions.

The thought occurred to me that a smart browser might notice repetitive
patterns, and offer a suggestion to the user to create a bookmark.
However, my next thought was a mental image of Clippy saying "Hi! It
looks like you're trying to visit mozilla.com, perhaps you'd like to
make a bookmark?" -- so this kind of thing would probably be very hard
to implement in a useful-but-not-annoying way. :-)

Justin

Justin Dolske

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Dec 31, 2006, 12:13:36 AM12/31/06
to
mcdav...@netscape.net wrote:

> - Maybe some way to autopopulate open (unset) slots with either
> most-recently-used or most-frequently-used addresses?

I had a discussion not too long ago with a couple of the people working
on Places, and we bounced around some ideas similar to this... It might
be handy -- even for advanced users -- to have a distilled history of
frequently visited pages (or sites?), automatically generated by the
browser. It could learn from your browsing history, and adapt to
changing preferences. For example, if you read cnn.com every day it
would be included in the list. And if you switch to reading
news.bbc.co.uk instead, the list would (at some point) prune the CNN
entry, and add a BBC entry. No manual bookmarks management required.

Justin

Gervase Markham

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Jan 5, 2007, 7:11:31 AM1/5/07
to
Myk Melez wrote:
> I'm not sure. But I'm in Hungary at the moment meeting friends driving
> French, German, and American-sold-in-Europe cars, so I'll scout some of
> the European market, anyway.

Any results?

>> And it would also, at the bottom, explain drag-drop, so they could use
>> it when they'd run out of presets.
>
> That's not entirely clear to me. Perhaps there's a simpler way to
> expose preset adding that doesn't require users to learn both drag and
> drop and also how the favicon is a proxy for the page.

Could we make it work if you just dragged from any point on the page
which wasn't a link to the toolbar?

>> If the hold period were something like three seconds, and it were
>> accompanied by a unique progressive cursor (so it was hard to trigger
>> accidentally when using the button), I think we could do this.
>
> Although it isn't part of the standard radio interface, this sounds like
> a good way to improve the experience.

I was thinking about something like the click-hold cursor you get on pen
interfaces, where there's only "one button". I seem to remember it draws
a series of little dots in a bigger circle around the pointer; when it's
finished, the menu appears.

> Right. It's unclear to me how popular an interface like this would be
> for power users, but if there's value for that audience, then it's worth
> including functionality that would make the feature useful to them,
> provided doing so doesn't compromise the experience for the
> non-technical users who are its primary target.

Well, I'd use it :-)

Gerv

Gervase Markham

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Jan 5, 2007, 7:14:15 AM1/5/07
to
Peter Lairo wrote:
> mcdav...@netscape.net wrote:
>> - Maybe some way to autopopulate open (unset) slots with either
>> most-recently-used or most-frequently-used addresses?
>
> Yes it has. IIRC:
>
> - Bookmarks" are automatically added to the Bookmarks Toolbar based on
> frequency and recency of visits.

Urk. Unless they disappear as well, then it'll fill up pretty quickly.
And if they do disappear, you'll get the "hey, where did my bookmark go"
problem.

I think a Places feature of "frequently visited sites" would be a better
home for this function than the bookmarks toolbar.

Gerv

Gervase Markham

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Jan 5, 2007, 7:14:57 AM1/5/07
to
Andy Mabbett wrote:
> What about a button, next to the address bar, labelled "save" or
> "bookmark", or with an icon of a book with a bookmark protruding from
> it?
>
> This could then launch a "which of the [n] pre-sets do you want to save
> this bookmark in?" dialogue.

Are you suggesting this dialog as an *easier to use* interface than
click-and-hold?

Gerv

Peter Lairo

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Jan 5, 2007, 2:16:59 PM1/5/07
to
Gervase Markham wrote:
> Peter Lairo wrote:
>> mcdav...@netscape.net wrote:
>>> - Maybe some way to autopopulate open (unset) slots with either
>>> most-recently-used or most-frequently-used addresses?
>>
>> Yes it has. IIRC:
>>
>> - Bookmarks" are automatically added to the Bookmarks Toolbar based on
>> frequency and recency of visits.
>
> Urk. Unless they disappear as well, then it'll fill up pretty quickly.
> And if they do disappear, you'll get the "hey, where did my bookmark go"
> problem.

The logic could include: If the user actually *uses* the auto-bookmark
then that auto-bookmark is elevated in rank, which significantly reduces
the chance that *that* bookmark is auto-replaced. And if the user uses
that auto-bookmark "often", then its rank would be so high that it would
(nearly) never be auto-replaced.

> I think a Places feature of "frequently visited sites" would be a better
> home for this function than the bookmarks toolbar.

Yes, Places <bahumbug>. Yet another feature that regular users will
never use, let alone discover. If they're not using the in-your-face
auto-populated toolbar bookmarks, why would they even find (let alone
use) some Places "frequently visited sites" feature? Even if you do have
a good answer to that question, you need to also answer the question of
which solution is *better*. ;-)

Myk Melez

unread,
Jan 5, 2007, 3:11:20 PM1/5/07
to
Gervase Markham wrote:
> Myk Melez wrote:
>> I'm not sure. But I'm in Hungary at the moment meeting friends
>> driving French, German, and American-sold-in-Europe cars, so I'll
>> scout some of the European market, anyway.
>
> Any results?

Unfortunately I completely neglected to check. Perhaps we can ask some
of our European compatriots.


>>> And it would also, at the bottom, explain drag-drop, so they could
>>> use it when they'd run out of presets.
>>
>> That's not entirely clear to me. Perhaps there's a simpler way to
>> expose preset adding that doesn't require users to learn both drag and
>> drop and also how the favicon is a proxy for the page.
>
> Could we make it work if you just dragged from any point on the page
> which wasn't a link to the toolbar?

Sure, we could do that. FWIW, I think it makes sense to support drag
and drop of the favicon too, I just don't think we should necessarily
try to teach that to novice users.


>>> If the hold period were something like three seconds, and it were
>>> accompanied by a unique progressive cursor (so it was hard to trigger
>>> accidentally when using the button), I think we could do this.
>>
>> Although it isn't part of the standard radio interface, this sounds
>> like a good way to improve the experience.
>
> I was thinking about something like the click-hold cursor you get on pen
> interfaces, where there's only "one button". I seem to remember it draws
> a series of little dots in a bigger circle around the pointer; when it's
> finished, the menu appears.

This seems like a fine idea.


>> Right. It's unclear to me how popular an interface like this would be
>> for power users, but if there's value for that audience, then it's
>> worth including functionality that would make the feature useful to
>> them, provided doing so doesn't compromise the experience for the
>> non-technical users who are its primary target.
>
> Well, I'd use it :-)

I might too. Not sure yet.

-myk

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