I'm part of a small team of developers without a single graphic/ux/ui designer, and we're trying our hands at building a small website.

We want to get end users input on what's happening in the environment, even if the site already exists, we thought it'd be a good learning experience to (re)create.

Our problem right out the gate is deciding whether or not a single textfield grabbing user comments can reach the largest audience possible,

or, whether it was to build a single textfield with about 5-7 adjacent buttons that contain ways to categorize information to lure a specific demographic in.

We are worried if we choose the latter option, it will scare off the larger user-base (everyone*), and technically be harder to architect off the bat wasting valuable collaborative time.

Any thoughts?

  • "We want to get end users input on what's happening in the environment" - Could you explain more please? – Yako Oct 10 '13 at 9:46
  • Hi thanks for responding, we literally want to collect any and all observations people can make about the environment. A single comment which gets added as a marker on a map so people can visualize all that's going on in their environment, locally, near or far. For example, "This downed tree left a mess all over the roads." – gamengineers Oct 10 '13 at 12:35
  • So, if I get it right, it's based on a map. The user clicks on a place, because he wants to say something about it. This is what you call the "user input", which may be more or less rich and consistent. And there is an other user, who looks at the different written inputs of the map, and there are quite a lot of them. So your question is: "how to represent all that stuff to be easier to browse/navigate, shouldn't we categorize the users' inputs?" Is my understanding of your problem right? – Yako Oct 10 '13 at 12:49
  • Yako, I believe you are right. We only thought about getting the input, and not how to actually browse, navigate to it. And yes, this is why we feel its necessary to categorize the input, but try to flub our own understanding of UX based on the giants like google, facebook, twitter that use a single textfield for posting comments. – gamengineers Oct 10 '13 at 12:56

I think you could organize a little method with a few steps to get started. Let's consider two users: Bob has noticed something in his close environment, and he wants to share it on a map. Anna is looking at the map, with several items on it.

1. Why does Anna actually uses your app? What are her needs, what are her expectations? Just write down all her objectives.

2. What would be great to help Anna achieve her objectives? What information does she need? What would be the best visual solution, to be light, smart, and not too heavy? Remember that too much displayed data would kill the data... And then you know which data is required for the inputs.

3. What do we need from Bob? This is just a list of all the items identified at the previous step. But you also know what really matters, and for instance, if demographic stuff is required or not...

4. How do we ask Bob in the easiest way? Now, you have enough knowledge to handle your initial question. You may be creative to ask Bob several things without being too boring, and without requiring a high involvement, or a high cognitive load.

If you want to ask the community about this fourth step, then you need to provide us your insights from the third step...

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  • Thanks so much for your input, we've started the steps you've outlined above and found it extremely useful, as we're discovering new things we didn't think about before. – gamengineers Oct 11 '13 at 1:57

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