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I'm currently working on a project where users can upload media to a website. This website will display media in a playlist format. See image below.

enter image description here

When uploading media users have a few properties they can fill out:

  • Title (text)
  • Description (text)
  • User access (selector)
  • Tags (text)

These are all optional. The only requirement is the uploaded media. In a worse case scenario users can put a video on their website without a title, no description, accessible by nobody and no tags.

That's fine from a technical perspective. It does not matter if there's a title or not. However, from a designer's point of view it's not what I want. When no properties have been set, the media on the website looks inconsistent and (I'm just going to say it) ugly.

Question

My question is; what's the best way to balance user freedom to enter (or not enter) whatever they want as media properties and requirements to have a better experience and look and feel afterwards?

I want users to be free to enter properties in the way they want, but I also want the end result to look good. I think users might abort their actions if there are too many requirements.

Now I'm thinking about making the title a requirement to have a consistent playlist view. But this also raises the question if there should be a character limit to the title.

What's a good balance to this? Is there research and what are your experiences?

Thanks!

  • 1
    There’s a limit to user freedom. The fact that the media must be playable is already a constraint. I don’t think requiring a title is unrealistic, and users would hardly regard that as an imposition, and a generous limit, such as 128 characters will probably do. You can even include a dummy value such as Uploaded 2017-04-24 by @somebody. Do you want missing elements to be hidden, or would you prefer a placeholder? – Manngo Apr 24 '17 at 11:57
  • @manngo I'd prefer a placeholder. – Nick Groeneveld Apr 24 '17 at 12:51
  • Requiring at least a title seems perfectly reasonable, even if you pre-populate it to an ugly default based on a number or datecode or something similar, as Manngo says. I'd expect most user-created objects in any application to have some sort of unique title or label. – Matt Obee Apr 24 '17 at 13:01
  • Why not just use the name of the file as a placeholder? e.g. user uploads myhomemovie.mov, video becomes "myhomemovie" – William Anderson Apr 24 '17 at 13:16
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Encourage your users to fill out the fields pointing out why it's valuable for them to properly title, tag and describe their Media.

When users are aware of the benefits for them, then they are likely to fill it out.To quote this section from GoodUI

Try Loss Aversion instead of emphasizing gains.

We like to win, but we hate to lose. According to the rules of persuasive psychology, we are more likely to prefer avoiding losses than to acquiring gains. This can be applied to how product offerings are framed and communicated. By underlying that a product is protective of a customer’s existing well-being, wealth or social status, such strategy might be more effective than trying to provide a customer with something additional which they don’t already have. Do insurance companies sell the payout that can be gained after the accident or the protection of the things we hold dear to us?

A good example of this is how 500px does this when you upload a photograph. It clearly highlights how low the discoverability of the photo is with no metadata filled in and encourages users to fill the details in to promote their photograph

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