5

We have a desktop app where in there's a consultant receiving customers for a video conference / consultation.

In this app, we have incoming customers (meaning, customers that require consultation now) and customers on queue (those that will be serviced after the incoming customer).

I'm thinking of a having a permanent bar at the top of the app that changes in number / status. Depending on how many customers are on queue (say, it will refresh every 3 minutes.)

enter image description here

This way, the consultant will know how many customers are on queue wherever he is on the web application.

I'm wondering if there are better ways to handle this?

  • I think it is clear, the only thing is be careful with the contrast. – Alvaro Feb 14 '17 at 9:40
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There are several things I would consider. Is the consultant sharing screen with the client (we don't want him to see that)? Is it something that should be discreet or give the consultant an overview? How does the notification look like on your other channels (if there are any)? Does the consultant know the clients or not? Do clients fill in some query prior to the consultation?

These are not here and I encourage you to consider them. But by your initial idea I assume that: The consultant doesn't share the screen (or if, it's sharing of a specific window). The notification should be more discreet and precise than giving an overview. Finally, the information on whether the client is returning or has provided some additional background to the call request is located in some other place.

You might take three approaches that I see here:

  • As you suggested; a static notification on the top
    Pro: there are no surprises, the consultant knows where to look for the notification, so when the queue is long or the stress kicks in it may give some kind of comfort.
    Con: the notification is static, consultant gets used to it just being there, so it will be perceived as a static element of the interface. Therefore, it loses its weight as notification.
  • Notification (toast message) in the corner after the consultant finished the previous call with the count of the customers.
    Pro: The right information at the time you need it.
    Con: No idea how could that be implemented. Plus, the consultant may need this information to peek at for a sense of comfort.
  • Count of the queue where the "video call" button is.
    Pro: The right information in place and time that it's needed. If you see the queue you start the call, if you just finished the call you want to start another.
    Con: Requires you to be able to customise this area.
1

having a static notification bar is not preferable as the information updates with the new users joining in which he fails to notice the updated data in the style you mentioned above especially. you can put a dynamic field over that such as facebook or any other notification trays where there is usage of badges enter image description here


position of this notifications depends on the position of the content related to that field i.e., place where he finds the data related to user and queue, and behavior of on clicking that notification.


if there is no such kind of thing in the content other than the notification you can try toast in bottom left because most of the users use windows and that is the place where users get notifications. enter image description here


or if it is mac try in top rightenter image description here

1

It better shows who in the queue instead of how many.

Imagine one person goes away and new one connected. In this case, you will have the same number of clients, but the situation was changed.

Imagine one of the customers in the queue is a very valuable client. For example VIP or partner or a client who is very close to buying you product.

So, I suggest you use something like this (if you usually don't have a lot of clients in the queue): enter image description here

And something like this (if clients in the queue more than 5): enter image description here

Also, I showed how you may mark your clients with some badge (to indicate his/her status).

1

Displaying notifications on top along with the count might distract the consultant which possibly push him to wrap-up the current customer without proper consultation which could leave your customers unsatisfied.

Think about having some non-annoying indicator that will inform the consultant about customers in queue but don't display the count.

The Microsoft guidelines for notifications says:

The information in a notification is useful and relevant, but never critical. Consequently, notifications don't require immediate user action and users can freely ignore them.

  • Is the information rapidly changing, continuous, real-time information? Examples include processing progress, stock quotes, and sports scores. If so, don't use notifications because they aren't suitable for rapidly changing information.

  • Is the information useful and relevant? Are users likely to change their behavior or avoid inconvenience as the result of receiving the information? If not, either don't display the information or put it in a status window or log file.

  • Is the information critical? Is immediate action required? If so, display the information using an interface that demands attention and cannot be easily ignored, such as a modal dialog box or message box. If the program isn't active, you can draw attention to the critical information by flashing the program's taskbar button three times and leaving it highlighted until the program is active.

  • Are the primary target users IT professionals? If so, use an alternative feedback mechanism such as log file entries or e-mail messages. IT professionals strongly prefer log files for non-critical information. Furthermore, servers are often managed remotely and typically run without any users logged on, making notifications ineffective.

  • Is the information the immediate, direct result of users' interaction with your application? If so, display this synchronous information directly within your application instead using a dialog box, message box, balloon, or in place UI.

Design concepts

Effective notifications that promote a good user experience are:

  • Asynchronous. The event is not an immediate, direct result of users' current interaction with Microsoft Windows or your application.

  • Useful. There is a reasonable chance that users will perform a task or change their behavior as the result of the notification.

  • Relevant. The notification displays helpful information that users care about and don't already know.

  • Not critical. Notifications aren't modal and don't require user interaction, so users can freely ignore them.

  • Actionable. For those notifications that suggest performing an action, that action is initiated by clicking on the notification. However, the action can always be postponed.

  • Appropriately presented. The notification's presentation (duration, frequency, text, icon, and interactivity) matches its circumstances.

  • Not annoying! There is a fine line between gently informing users of an event and pestering them.

I hope this information will help you make the right choice.

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I believe the issue here is that notifications are not the best approach since you have two types of customers: incoming customers (meaning, customers that require consultation now) and customers on queue (those that will be serviced after the incoming customer).

What if you represent a chart where the operator compares both type of costumers at the same time and understand the ratio between them, like this:

enter image description here

If no customers are on incoming or on queue, the graph will be empty. It helps the operator to quantify how many customers he/she has on the pipeline, since I'm assuming that the operator will always have costumers to manage and no "dead times". And based on that, having notifications doesn't bring value since they should be used when "something" happened or a current status changed, which is different on this case.

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