I have a simple site I'm creating that basically just allows you to set your status as away or available. Super easy and very simple. However, I'm definitely not a UX person and I really struggle at making the UX simple for the users. I have the application setup on heroku and was wondering if I could just get some general suggestions and thoughts.

You can see the appilication @ http://blooming-ice-7964.herokuapp.com/

login: [email protected] 
password: test1234

You can actually register as well, but I thought I'd save that step.

Once again any suggestions would be great.

  • So what does the red color denote here,does it denote the user is busy or signed out?
    – Mervin
    Dec 28, 2011 at 22:52
  • @Mervin red is away, green is available.
    – Kyle
    Dec 28, 2011 at 23:52
  • The color would better be self-explanatory. Grey for 'away' would be better - red usually suggests 'busy'. No color/ white can indicate offline/signed-out.
    – Kris
    Dec 29, 2011 at 3:58

2 Answers 2


Right now, your interface is very bad. Here's what's wrong:

  • It's absolutely unclear how to change one's status.
  • The clickable link in the table isn't differentiated from the rest of the content and there's no expectation of what will happen when it's clicked.
  • Time selector is sliders instead of simple numeric input.
  • Message length limit isn't specified (i.e. I can try to write a novel there).

Here's how to fix it:

  • Remove the current user from the table listing completely.
  • Add a string right above the table reading, "Hi, John! You are currently marked as away until 10:30am. Click here if you're back." and "Hi, John! You are currently marked as available. Click here to mark yourself as away."
  • Do some user testing to see whether it makes sense to replace the date/time picker with a string like "I'll be back in X hours Y minutes" (i.e. whether users prefer to set how long they anticipate being away vs exact return time).
  • Show how long is left until a person returns instead of the time (e.g. "In 2 hours 23 minutes" or "Tomorrow") in the Returns column.
  • Add a JavaScript character counter to the message field to make sure people post only short messages there.
  • Replace the user's email in the top-right with "Edit my account".
  • When you're done with the layout code, make sure that style is consistent across element types (i.e. it's clear when something is clickable).
  • I totally agree with all the points, I want to add one more thing that circle makes no sense before the name, change it to something else which stand better, after saving your red circle make me feel like there is something which I should not click, It shows complete message if I have typed something really long it gonna ruin the whole interface so, it should be in few line,(cause no body gonna put a bunch of paragraph) and the save and i am back button should be in right hand side..
    – Jack
    Dec 29, 2011 at 7:18
  • I've went ahead and made some changes to the UI, however, I know I didn't do everything suggested above yet. I do find the slider for time a bit clunky, but really don't really know where to go with it for improvement? Most of the time users will be marking their status away for hours of the day, not days and hours. I don't like the idea of saying a person will return in 2 hours, because it requires them to first know the time and then do some math in their heads to figure out the return time? Perhaps I should have both return time and time remaining. Thank you for all the suggestions.
    – Kyle
    Dec 29, 2011 at 17:38
  • Ask your end-users how they count time: whether they think in intervals (e.g. I'll be back in about 1h 15m) or in exact time (e.g. I'll be back at 4:23pm). If you can't get sensible answers then do some A/B testing and measure how long it takes them to set the time. Here's a Ruby gem for it: vanity.labnotes.org
    – dnbrv
    Dec 29, 2011 at 17:45

If you don't know what to do, stick to what the majority is already using. Take an example you (your audience) like best. MSN messenger, Skype, ...


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