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We are developing Android application, basically timetables and exams. One team member says that exams should be visible there at all times, while I think it would be much less confusing if exams only appeared when information about them was available.

That team member argues that issuing an update is just too much effort.

I know that updating Android applications is transparent to the user most of the time. Further, it's easier to notice when exams appear, when an extra option appears, rather than clicking it every time you want to check them.

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DO NOT assume that everyone leaves their Android devices on auto-update, or even updates their apps manually. There's lots of people who won't update an app unless it's giving them trouble. –  Michael Kohne Jul 15 at 12:46
    
I don't know exactly what this exams button does (whether it's user driven revision planning or whether you push content to it), but please do not make the assumption that you know when different users have their exams. They're not all in June. Ignoring completely users across the world in the southern hemisphere (assuming you're from the north - maybe you're not) who might have exams whenever, I myself have had six entirely separate exam seasons spread over the last one year and one month. –  niemiro Jul 15 at 15:17
    
Examples: school exams & retakes straight after the summer in September; individual university admissions tests spread over October - January; internal school mocks in January - Febuary; external examinations starting as early as mid-late May right up until early July; alternative university admissions tests at the end of normal external examinations in very late June - early July; alternatively for younger students, internal school exams in June. As a student I beseech you not to make assumptions about when exams are :) –  niemiro Jul 15 at 15:18
    
@niemiro Actually, here in Lithuania exams have fixed dates. Students and Professors can make unofficial arrangements, but that's all. –  Marius Jul 15 at 19:00

1 Answer 1

up vote 8 down vote accepted

If the exams option is always empty, then the users will (at some point, depending on the individual person) give up checking that menu option.

If there is no mechanism in the application to draw the attention to new exams that appear, then you have a usability issue.

Your suggestion is one way to indicate the "new items" idea, but it is not necessarily ideal. Removing the "exams" option means that the users will not know that there will be exam information provided at some point in the future.

Both you and your team member have a good point, so the solution is somewhere in the middle.

  • Leave the "exams" option in place
  • Clearly indicate clearly that it is for future use (perhaps put information on the time frame for this?)
  • When it is finally updated to contain new information, give a visual indication on that there is something new in this menu

A "new" sticker?

enter image description here

Or more minimal "shiny" icon to indicate that something is "shiny new" inside? enter image description here

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Excellent answer ! –  PhillipW Jul 15 at 10:40

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