Changing the default look of DoneDone issue pages

In an upcoming scheduled update to DoneDone, we’ve tweaked the issue detail page interface a bit. There isn’t any new functionality, and these aren’t big changes, but they’re important enough that I want to discuss why we did them.

What it looks like right now
Currently, when you look at an issue detail page, you see three basic sections:

  • Issue information and next possible actions (in light blue)
  • Comment box (in gray)
  • Issue history (at the bottom)
The comment box is taking up too much real estate off the bat.

We’re finding alot of our users (and some of us) get distracted by the comment box. If you’ve been assigned an issue, more than likely your first move should be to change the status of the issue to “In progress”, “Not reproducible”, etc. Changing issue statuses is core to our philosphy – it moves that issue to the appropriate person’s bucket. We want that to be the first step people take.

From your feedback, we get the sense that you see the inviting comment box and immediately want to type into it:

New comment: “Hey, I can’t reproduce this issue on my browser. Are you using Mosaic again?”

Here’s the problem. When you add comments, you’re not changing the status of the issue. Really, this should have been a status change to “missing information” and the comment should go in the yellow box. Comments should only be used if you’re just making a note about something, or adding to the issue without the intent of changing the status.

The other problem is, the exposed comment box is pushing the issue history further down the page. The comment box is simply getting in the way. We need it to take up a more appropriate amount of space relative to its general importance.

Our attempt at solving the problem
We’re going to do two things to guide you a bit more.

First, we’re hiding the comment box and showing a link to “add a comment” instead. The link just exposes the comment box.

Second, if you are assigned an issue, you’ll see the “change status” dropdown and comment area open by default. Here’s what the new version of the same page will more-or-less look like:

Your eyes should magically levitate toward the yellow box!

You can still expand the comment box if you really just want to add a comment.

A follow-up thought on usability
While we like the changes, there are potential drawbacks. You now need to make an extra step to add a comment. It might take new users an extra few seconds to figure out how to add a comment.

But, these minor gotchas are risks we’re willing to take. I don’t think there should be golden rules in usability (less clicks is always better than more clicks, in this case). In our case, making something slightly harder or less obvious is, in turn, making the more-likely-to-be-correct-action easier and more obvious.

We hope this slight UI change makes sense and you think it’s the right change. We’ll likely be making the update sometime early next week. Comment back or hit us up on Twitter (@getdonedone).

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