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Dashboard Design

Here's a VERY stripped down version of a dashboard design with some changes to protect it and the company it is for. I need a few opinions.

1) We currently have an ongoing debate over notifications. One of our team members thinks we need the notifications right on the dashboard/home page and should not just have the bell icon with an indicator. Currently the notifications are just that; there will be minimal "action items" that users will be presented with. So, e.g., it would be like "Jane made changes to X", "John added an event", etc. Is it useful to surface notifications on the dashboard even with a bell icon/indicator that will be global? My concern is how many notifications could appear; it could be a lot, including a lot of things that aren't very actionable. Still, I'm open to getting some opinions.

2) Infinite scroll vs. Load More scroll. One of our team members feels infinite scroll can be buggy and give the impression that users have reached the end when they haven't. S/he prefers a "load more" button to trigger viewing more items. Any thoughts on that?

3) This isn't shown in the design above but is it redundant or useful to show a list of users or a roster (when this list is available) when you click on a main navigation item titled "users" or "roster"?

Again trying to not reveal the product or company etc. so apologies for the vagueness!

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    Hi teaqueen84, welcome to UX.SE! Please take a second to stop by our help center to get acquainted with how this community works! Currently, your question has many different questions inside it. This makes it difficult for people to answer, as some people might want to address only one of your issues. Please feel free to edit your question to only focus on one issue at a time, then you may ask additional questions as necessary to address your other issues. Thanks, and welcome! – maxathousand Jul 5 '18 at 16:09
  • Sometimes it is the details that you can't reveal that provide the contexts required to find the optimal solution to the problem. You can design based on feelings and opinions, but it doesn't help to validate the assumptions you have made unless it is tested against with the users :) – Michael Lai Jul 5 '18 at 23:38
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1. Presenting notifications inline vs. in a badged bell icon.

The answer depends a bit on how much you expect the user to care about the contents in notifications.

  • Will your user normally want to view these notifications as the first thing they do when they get to your portal? If so, there's a good case for presenting them inline. Might as well save them the trouble of accessing that notification bell.

  • Do you expect your user to spend significant amounts of time on pages other than the homepage, and do you need them to be able to see notifications while they're not on the homepage? If so then the bell is a good way for you to get their attention from any page.

  • Will your user be expected to take action on all of these, if not as the first thing on the portal, then at least at some point? Or are they just FYI items? If the user is expected to take action on them, then the badged icon makes sense; perhaps a bit counter-intuitively, if the user is not expected to take action on all of these, and it is more of a list of recent changes for their information, then an inline presentation also makes sense because they would otherwise learn that the badge count is not worth clearing and grow blind to it. I've seen similar systems for unimportant notifications where people's badge counts grow to very large numbers.

Notes:

  • Because of these considerations, it can be a good idea to sort your UI in order to present things that require user action separately from things that are just FYI (right now I notice "no action needed" and "sign this form" in the same bin - avoid this if you can).

  • If (as in your mock) you have two entry points for notifications, one inline and one in a badged bell icon, then you will need to consider how viewing notifications inline affects the badge count, and how clicking the bell affects both the badge count and the blue dots in the inline presentation. There are multiple ways of doing this, but it can be tricky to keep track of unseen or unread state without it being pretty confusing to the user (e.g. I shouldn't click a badged bell icon to view the exact same notifications that I just saw inline).

2. Infinite scroll vs. Load more

Why not have your cake and eat it too? End the page with a "Load more" button, and when it enters into view, transition it to a spinner until results come back; or, transition it back to the "Load more" button on an error or timeout. This way it's clear to the user that something's happening to load more content but you also retain the benefit of being able to trigger it manually if things go wrong.

Having a "Load more" button instead of infinite scrolling is only really useful UX when you have data that you need to show in the footer of the page.

3. Having multiple access paths to the same data

You ask your question about user list without a lot of context, but I'll try answering a rephrased version of it: is it worth providing multiple access paths to the same data?

It can be, but when that is the case, it's preferable in my opinion that there be only one canonical way of accessing the data from any place in the site, and that the other paths to access it are just "shortcuts" to the destination. This is so that users can build a sense of "where things are at" over time.

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We have a b2b app that helps startups and small companies manage their business, so we have grappled with some of these same issues.

  1. From our experience you should be very selective about what appears with the badge/bell icon and even more selective about what appears on a dashboard feed. If most the notifications aren't action items or things the user directly cares about right now, it is highly probable that they'll just learn to ignore the whole section and then they won't notice when there really are important notifications or action items that apply to them. I think the best solution is to have the notification badge and feeds apply directly to the user. BUT to present an easy-to-find clear link to a detailed log of system activity, you can even summarize the activity (4 new workflows, 10 viewed documents, etc) then let them drill into the things they think are important.

  2. I think that most uis are opting for infinite scroll, with a lazy load, I think the experience is slightly better. However if it's REALLY impacting the performance I don't think a load-more button is super egregious.

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1) My concern is how many notifications could appear, it could be a lot and a lot of things that aren't very actionable. But open to getting some opinions.

If you start making a list of things that could appear in the notifications, and then work out for each of the different user groups how likely and frequent they would appear (and are actionable, or if they really care), then you don't need to rely on opinions.

2) Infinite scroll vs. Load More scroll. One of our team members feels infinite scroll can be buggy and give the impression that they have reached the end when they haven't and prefers a load more button to trigger viewing more. Any thoughts on this?

I am sure there are some existing answers to this debate like this one (just search for the term): How to decide whether to paginate or scroll?

Also, it also depends on the type of content you are presenting and if there are some performance issues to consider as well. In your design there is a right hand side area that ideally should be fixed in position and pagination rather than scrolling would preserve its position. There are different forces at work and you need to weigh it up more.

3) This isn't showcased on the design but is it redundant or useful to show a list of users or a roster when this list is available when you click on a main navigation item titled "users" or "roster"?

Possibly, but are users going to know where to look to find this? Should they be able to see this all the time and do they need to access it really quickly? Does it fit in with the rest of the design? Again you need to weigh it up so being able to ask the right questions to the users will help with this.

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