Improving the Nucleus GUI
Tuesday, 1 February 2005
I’ve been using Nucleus for a year or two now. I chose Nucleus for rakaz.nl based on some positive previous experiences. I was already used to it, so it was a natural choice. Despite all the positive aspects of Nucleus, I’ve always felt there was room for improvement. The reason I started developing plug-ins for Nucleus was born out of this feeling.
My take is that the internal Nucleus navigation should be better focussed on tasks users undertake. Common tasks should be available imediatelly, while functionality that is only used once a year can be hidden from day-to-day use. For example, the navigation menu provides a link to the ‘Action log’ (to admins) that I hardly use. And I cannot imagine the skin import/export functionality is often used.
I wholeheartedly agree with Roel. The 90/10 rule dictates that 10% of the features is used 90% of the time. Making those features more prominent in the new user interface and ‘hiding’ the other 90% will certainly help make the interface less cluttered and easier to understand.
There is one other aspect I want to bring to the table. The basic feature set of Nucleus and plug-ins. Plug-ins are currently a usability horror, because they are limited in how they integrate in the already existing user interface.
One main example is the Trackback plugin, for which I am working on an administration interface. Ideally the Trackback plugin would insert an extra item, called ‘Trackbacks’ between ‘Comments’ and ‘Bookmarklet’ into the ‘Your weblogs’ list on the main admin page. Clicking on the ‘Trackbacks’ button would show all trackbacks for that particular weblog. Similarly if you click on ‘Edit/Delete’ and view the list of stories you would have an extra button called ‘Trackbacks’ inserted in the ‘Actions’ column.
Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. The only way is to create an administration interface completely separate from the already existing interface. Sure, you can use a convenient ‘Quicklink’ to reach that interface, but it is still completely separate.
How can this be solved? If you are going to redesign the user interface I would love to see a reliable method for plug-ins to insert extra functionality into the already existing interface.
A completely different discussion is whether or not Trackback functionality should be build right into the core of Nucleus. If it is part of the core, just like comments, it could be far better integrated into the user interface. There are a couple of other plug-ins that provide ‘core’ functionality, which could or should be integrated right into the core.