Some concerns about the interface

No need to agree that LingQ is a great place. :slight_smile:

The website is wonderful! And I believe that it is the most powerful system to learn one, or maybe several, new languages.

The new design brought many awesome features – ability to see how many new words there are in an article is my favorite. The option to add friends and read their blogs will tighten the LingQ community even more.

However, I would like to point out things which improvements – I believe – will benefit every single member.

MAIN WINDOW

  1. I think that links Courses, Library, Vocabulary, Write, Speak, Profile, Friends, and Forum will be more easily accessible if they are placed together on the toolbar where now only Courses and Community links are available. If one is on the Library page, there is no way he can get to the Forum in one single click. They would fit nicely. I would also recommend putting an additional link to the FAQ section on this toolbar because it is only available on the main page of LingQ (http://www.lingq.com/) and one has to log out in order to get there.

  2. Some of the options in the Setting and Account sections duplicate each other. It may confuse users because it is hard to remember where to go to change personal information. The confusion can be resolved by either merging two sections into one or separating them completely (deleting duplicated options.)

  3. The image with a question mark in the right upper corner is actually a button. :slight_smile: I didn’t realize that for a long time. There is no buttons like this on the site anywhere, so I think it will be nice to have it as a plain text link.

COURSES

  1. It will be nice to know how many active and how many archived lessons there are.

  2. It will also be nice to have on option of deleting lessons, not just archiving them.

  3. Lessons are already combined into collections, so they can be also displayed as collections to save some page space.

LIBRARY

  1. The Library section displays every single part of every collection. It is not a very convenient way because lessons clutter the Library. Consider the Literature section: some of the pages are stuffed with chapters of a single book. It doesn’t make much sense, for in order to take a chapter, one has to click on the chapter and then choose the same chapter from a collection it is in. So, why not display only collections in the Library? It will save a lot of time finding desired material.

  2. A description of a collection may also show how many parts are in it.

  3. It will be nice to have a New Additions feed to see what items were added over a long period of time. Right now the New Additions section contains only 15 items. If one imports a 20-chapter audiobook, all recent additions are pushed off this section and it will be very hard to find recently added items. Besides, if items are displayed as collections, they would take even less space.

  4. There is a bunch of filters on the Import page and none of them on the Library page, only the one search field (it doesn’t work properly anyway.) It would be nice to see these filters that are so helpful on the Library page too.

VOCABULARY

  1. I think everyone wants to see how many words he is studying right now, so this number somewhere in this section will be handy.

COMMUNITY

  1. The Community and Profile links actually lead to one page. There is no point of duplicating links and it may confuse a user, so I suggest delete one of them.

  2. One can add friends and see what languages his friends are learning. Logical extension of this option is ability to see what lessons friends are reading and what words they are learning. It is also very useful because looking at his friend’s lessons, one can find something interesting for himself too. There should also be an option to block lessons from showing on the profile page if one doesn’t want it.

  3. One more logical extension of the ability to add friends to your account is an option to send simple messages. It will be a nice and convenient way to communicate within the LingQ community.

IMPORT

  1. In the import section, on the page where you actually paste a text of a lesson and attach an audio file, options “Share this lesson »” and “Advanced Settings »” are always collapsed. They should be expanded, not collapsed, because everyone uses them anyway when importing something. So, why make users spend their time inefficiently clicking on these links?

  2. Sharing items is also time consuming: you have to click on the Submit button and then click OK button, and all of this you can do only after you saved the lesson. It will be very helpful to be able to share a particular collection be default, not clicking every time on the Submit button.

  3. The restrictions on imported lessons are ridiculous and much obscure: no more than 6000 words, no files larger than 15Mb, and no longer than 25 minutes. This information is not stated anywhere, at least I could not find it. Why is there the restriction on a size of a file if the quality of recording and its length are already restricted?

LESSONS

  1. On a page of an actual lesson, I think it would be nice to have a larger flash player. It is so tiny when it may be larger for easier access.

  2. When creating LingQs, one has to copy the definition of the word from a dictionary to the Hint field and then click the Save button. What a waste of time! I suggest that the Hint field should be ALWAYS filled automatically with the definition from the dictionary because I’m sure that the majority of users just copy and paste the same definition from the dictionary. If one wants to have something else, he can always type anything he wants in this field. The Save button should be eliminated too and LingQs should be saved automatically.

  3. Adding tags to a word is also a struggle – one has to click on the +Tags link, click on a desired tag, and then click the Save button. One needs at least three clicks to add a tag. Remove the Save button and save tags automatically, and the valuable time of members would also be saved.

  4. It will also be nice to have some hot keys to play/pause the player.

Some of my friends, whom I told about LingQ, gave up on the website because of all these inconveniences of interaction with the system. Working with site should be easy and not time consuming. I emphasize that one must spend as little time as possible on interaction with the website. Just eliminate all unnecessary clicks and hours of time will be saved in the long run.

Consider this simple example with creating LingQs: I need to select, copy, and paste a definition from the dictionary to the Hint field (5 seconds), click on the Save button after adding tags (2 seconds), and click on the Save button to save the LingQ (2 seconds.) I spend 9 extra seconds on one LingQ. What if I created 1200 LingQs? It is 10800 seconds or 3 hours of time spent completely unproductively; moreover, I’m annoyed because I’m forced to perform the same actions over and over again. This interrupts the flow of reading or listening, decrease enjoyment of learning, and may even repel less motivated members.

I don’t know how hard it is to implement all of this, but considering all the great work you have done so far, I believe it will not be very difficult.

I hope that my suggestions will help make LingQ an even better place to learn and perfect foreign languages.

P.S. I want to say a big Thank You to LorrelinJ who was very helpful in preparing this post :slight_smile: Thank you, LorellinJ!

Wow! This looks like a great job. You must be a professional webpage advisor. I agree with your good suggestions only partly. The site is being improved and completed. I’m sure Mark is aware of many of rough edges. He has them on the list and is doing his best to tackle them.

I’d like to add only one suggestion to flexaJ’s very detailed list - to separate native language and interface language function. I think that many learners, as flexaJ and me, selected the language they prefer for interface instead of their native language. Many others selected English because they haven’t their real native language as a choice. Thus, I think it would be better having 10 interface languages and many native languages as two separated functions.

I have selected Swedish as my native language, but everything is in English anyway. Not that it matters that much (English is not a problem for me). A funny thing is that I helped translating the interface into Swedish.

This being said, flexaJ is on to something. I’ve commented on the time-consuming procedure of saving/editing words, and importing word lists isn’t really an option (we still have to enter all the valueable information, unless were importing a lot of “semi-known” words/conjugated verbs/et.c.). No wonder I usually spread a lesson over several days. Although I can listen as much as I want, I simply don’t have time to go through a new lesson if it has several hundreds of new words, especially not if I’m going to save them at the same time.

Spreading the LingQ-ing also spread the statistics which I think is better than doing “everything” today, and then “just” listen and read for another week (to let the content “sink in”).

Wow, a ton of thoughtful suggestions here. I won’t comment on every one of them, but I will say that where the number of clicks can be reduced, I would generally be in favor.

I have had some annoyances as well. For example, I have searched and searched many times for a link to the HELP PAGES. I did always get there eventually, but I can’t even remember how. I do know that it was incredibly circuitous. I finally just bookmarked the page so that I would never again have to spend time searching. Thanks for letting me know that this red question mark is the help page link. I never thought to look there.

Also, I would love to have my username be a link to my stats. To find my current stats, I have to click on COMMUNITY, which is not a very intuitive thing to do.

There may be reasons not to implement some of what you have asked for, but a lot of what you say makes a great deal of sense, so I am hoping that maybe some of those things will get implemented over time, making LingQ easier to use. I had to really make myself stick with LingQ over the first few days in order to get over a big hump in the front of the learning curve.

I am glad I did. This site is a godsend.

Thank you for all of this useful comment. I cannot say how quickly nor how much of it we can implement it. Some of it is on our list. I can say that we very much appreciate the input and the kind words. I look forward to more, of both-:slight_smile:

After a good nights sleep here are my views, and these are only mine. Mark and Mike, who have a better sense of what is easy and difficult, may have different views.

I hope others will comment here. And please ask your friends on the site to come here and voice their opinions in whatever language they want. Please also tell us what you consider to be the priorities. In what order should all of this be done?

flexaJ’s points: ( And I really appreciate the time put into this analysis and the constructive advice)

Main Window

  1. Navigation. I prefer the simplified navigation with only two tabs as it is now. I think this is less confusing for newcomers than having many tabs. However, navigation is quite personal and I would be interested in hearing from others about things they like and do not like about the navigation. Bear in mind that our main concern is to make sure that newcomers can figure out what to do and like LingQ and stay.

  2. I do not see any need to change the Settings and Account pages. There may be a duplication of the name etc. but there is no big problem here in my view.

  3. I agree that the Question Mark symbol is not obvious and we should find a way to make more obvious what it means.

Vocabulary

If you set your vocab list to 100 you will see how many pages there are in any vocab list. One day we will allow users to filter by status to that you can see how many words in each learning status. You can also see your total Saved LingQs in your profile. I do not see creating an additional statistic as a priority.

Library

We know the Library is not as conveniently organized as it could be. It is on our list, and it is a major job. All of your suggestions as users are welcome.

Courses

Delete function is coming. Other issues are related to the reorganizing the Library. It is all on our list. (The list is long).

Community

Messaging between members, tracking of “friends’” activities, and improvements on the Community are coming, sooner rather than later. We think this is important.

Separating the Community landing page from the Profile page is an interesting idea. We could then focus on each page and improve the information there. All part of the Community upgrade. There a number of good suggestions here. What else do members want in the Community? Please tell us.

If there are programmers out there familiar with Python who can help us with the Community, that would be great. There is just so much work to do.

Import

Suggestions for streamlining noted. I cannot comment further re restrictions, or reasons for them since I do not know the reasons.

Lessons

I would be interested to know how many people feel the time and steps involved in LingQing is a major obstacle, especially for newcomers. Personally I do not mind it, but then I am the champion LingQer, just about. What about others out there?

Just as there are many different opinions about the best way to navigate the site, there are many different ways that people use the site. Here is my ideal scenario fo streamlining the LingQ function. Please comment or provide your ideal scenario. Bear in mind that I have no idea what is possible to implement and what is not. Nor do I have any idea on when we could actually get at this work.

I would be happy if, when first reading the text, the following took place,

  1. If I double click on a word I would get the dictionary definition (either from Users’ Hints or from Babylon). I would see the definition and move on. No saving, no clicking a LingQ button, nothing. If I want to save a phrase I would have to highlight the phrase and click LIngQ as now and it would save automatically.

  2. If I want to see these saved LingQs in order to refine the definition, or edit the saved phrase,or tag or ask a tutor or anything, I would click on a link on on the right hand side of the lesson page, to be called Vocabulary or Glossary or something. This would be just above or below the Lesson Forum link. That would take me to the list that we see in the Vocabulary section (the most recently saved LingQs) and I could work on my LingQs, editing, looking for examples or whatever I want. To return to the Lesson there would be a “return to current lesson” link on the right hand side. Usually I would spend time on my saved LingQs after completing the text, but I could do it any time.

In other words, I would be happy if we simplify the initial LingQ, just to enable the learner to see the meaning. I believe that investing the time in refining and upgrading each LingQ is valuable since it helps with memory. However, when I am reading the text I am more motivated to finish the text and do not to a proper job of refining and editing the LingQ.

Whether this can be done, whether it would speed things up, whether we can eliminate some “save” steps etc. I simply do not know. But it is an idea of what I would like.

I think it is useful to find out what people want first, and then address what can be done.

Inabalu

I do not know what is involved in creating another language field. I agree that many people would like this and we will look into it.

KnowIt

A quick link to your stats… I do not know what is involved, but we will look into it.

Thank you, Steve.

I would like to join you and ask everyone who reads this thread to tell what they like about the LingQ system, what improvements they want to see on the LingQ website, what inconveniences they find using LingQ.

Please, don’t stay aside. Tell your friends from the LingQ community, or maybe post a quick note on your blog. Your opinions are very important – it is learners whose voices matter.

Добро пожаловать в LingQ флексаДЖ!

The most inconvenient thing I find (I don’t know if it is my browser settings or something like that) is that on pages where the writing is displayed in columns the column sizes aren’t set right. The writing therefore stretches over the right-hand side of the page, and the right-most column is often no longer visible because it is behind the text boxes at the right edge of the page. I’m using the latest version of Firefox. It’s particularly noticeable on the vocabulary page, and the own writing corrections page for tutors.

I like the different colour schemes for the different languages, though the red for Japanese does my head in a bit.

Hi Steve,

Since I’m familiar with creating of web pages, I believe that technically everything can be done. But I see most of disputed points as “quite personal” too, and I’m not so ambitious as long as I consider it as a way of learning language, and not as a webmaster feat.

Here my thoughts for now:

The Question Mark in my opinion is rather obvious; it is often used for the item “Help”, (plainest case MS Office). However, I would suggest another background colour (red could be seen as some kind of warning)

I welcome the idea of getting the dictionary definition without clicking the LingQ button. And it would be great to integrate the pronunciation function (like many online-dictionaries).

I also support the idea to split the native and interface language function, and I’ve suggested it to Mark for months. It is better for me to see the site on the language I’m learning, and I find it more helpful for my goals.

I find some other advices made by flexaJ rational, but rather a kind of web page transfiguration and some as a matter of taste.

Hi

I think the time it takes to save hints and tags is less of an issue for me because the text is not obscured so you can continue reading during the saving process.

Just my 2 cents

Ed

Think about how easy it all could be if all that you had to do was to click a word (once!) to save it, get a definition/hint, and possibly a sample of the phrase.

For those who want to “save time” by reading and listening at the same time… all this clicking and saving steals too much time (and focus) from either activity.

I am still learning how to use LingQ, and being new, don’t want to comment on a lot of the specifics which have been mentioned. But I will very much welcome improvements to how to access the library materials, so I am really glad to know that this is a priority on the list. Some of the things I have noticed about the libraries are as follows:

  1. It would be nice to have a way to find out how many offerings there are in any given language on any given topic. A quick browse around let me know that there are a ton of English materials already. If I wanted to add something, I would like to add to one of the smaller categories, because I feel that making a small category larger is the best way to help other users.

  2. It would be nice if you could provide a link to translations, too, whenever there are materials appearing on the site in several languages. I am reading Steve’s Book in Portuguese, and it took me a long time last night to find the English translation of that.

  3. I think all listings ought to show the place to which the reader is native, and be categorized that way as well. So there would be a way to find all European Portuguese readings quickly, and all French Canadian readings quickly. A Swedish person travelling to Australia might prefer to listen to readings read by a native from Oz, rather than by someone from the states.

Thanks!

I have just one point to add:

For the top navigation, to have the best of both worlds, you can have the secondary menu automatically change it’s navigation menu when the first menu is pressed (think pull-down menu on a conventional windows system). i think that would satisfy both the 1-click goal (which is good design) and it is good for beginners to get their head around what’s going on and what is what.

all in all great work !

-r

Thanks everyone for participation in this discussion.

Junair wrote:
“But I see most of disputed points as ‘quite personal’ too, and I’m not so ambitious as long as I consider it as a way of learning language, and not as a webmaster feat.”

Of course they are personal – all what I’ve said is my personal opinion, and I’m not talking about the design of the site, but rather about its interface.

Junair wrote:
“The Question Mark in my opinion is rather obvious; it is often used for the item ‘Help’, (plainest case MS Office). However, I would suggest another background colour (red could be seen as some kind of warning)”

The question mark is a wide-recognized symbol of help – agreed. However, it may be not obvious under certain conditions. As I said, almost every link and every button on the website are either a plain text link or a button (animated) with something written on it (Save or Search buttons.) The Question Mark button, on the other hand, is an image with a link attached and no animation at all. It is very hard to guess that it is an actual button.

Junair, you as a webmaster, should be familiar with the “Don’t make me think” concept of building websites. Everything that is not obvious from the first glance should be replaced or modified. For an ordinary user, not a webmaster, an image with a question mark on it is not obviously a button, especially when there is no similar buttons on the whole website.

Hi everyone,

Here are my thoughts how to make the Lesson section better.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to attach pictures, so I just give you the links and you can look at pictures by yourselves.

LESSON SECTION

Let’s look at the matter systematically.

Existing concept

Advantages: a unique system that allows you to read the text, listen to the audio representation of it, look up words in the dictionary, find examples of uses of words, add tags to them, save words into the Vocabulary section, find a thread on the forum concerning a particular word.

Disadvantages: looking words up in the dictionary takes a lot of time and interrupts the flow of reading, definitions are not available immediately, and too many clicks are needed to save a word into to the Vocabulary section.

What we want to achieve:

  1. Make definitions of words available instantly with no clicks or a single double click.
  2. Reduce number of clicks and time needed to save words to the Vocabulary section.

I have an idea how to do it (at least partially) and I made some pictures to show what I mean.

http://img258.imageshack.us/img258/9567/01copytq2.jpg

When a lesson is loaded, the text of the lesson is analysed and all words that are not in your Vocabulary section and their definitions are loaded into the lower frame of the window in the order in which they appear in the text. When you scroll the text, the list with words is scrolled automatically to keep up with you progress. You don’t need to click anywhere and wait while the script is looking a word up in the dictionary, yet you can see definitions of unknown words right away.

To save a word into the Vocabulary section, you need to check a checkbox next to a word.

If an unknown is not to be seen in the list below (maybe because there are too many unknown words and the list is quite long), you just double click on the word and the list scrolls down to display a highlighted definition of the selected word. Or you can scroll the list manually.

http://img258.imageshack.us/img258/5012/03copywt1.jpg

As well, all words that are already added to the Vocabulary section are highlighted in the text and their checkboxes are checked in the list.

http://img258.imageshack.us/img258/7596/04copydx7.jpg

To see more definitions or examples with a certain word you click on the “more >>>” link. (Links to Forum, Vocabulary section can be added too. Maybe it will be useful to tag words with the name of a collection. Possibilities are manifold.)

http://img258.imageshack.us/img258/4723/02copyqp1.jpg

After finishing reading the text, you can revise the list of words, decide which words should go into the Vocabulary section and which ones you know.

There we have it: you can see the definitions of the words right away without or with little clicks and saving words required one click per word.

Unfortunately, I think it is too difficult to make script look phrases and parts of words up in the dictionary, so to save a phrase of part of a word you still need to select it and click the
LingQ button.

If there is a word the system thinks you know but you want to add it to the Vocabulary section, you select this word and press the LingQ button.

Of course, it is just a concept and the implementation may differ, but I hope my idea is clear.

Just a quick note - links I gave don’t work because the forum script put a space before “jpg.” To see the pictures just revome this space.

I should say that flexaJ’s suggestions are very interesting. I have no idea what is involved in implementing this but would be very interested in hearing the reactions of others.Pleae take the trouble of going to the links and let us know your views on this or other issues related to the issues raised here.

Wow! I don’t really know where to start. Lots of great suggestions from everyone. I will try and address the different issues brought up here as opposed to responding to individual suggestions.

Menu - We deliberately reduced the menu from the seven options we had in the previous version. The previous menu was too daunting for many newbies who had difficuly figuring out what to do. We certainly didn’t want to add another Courses tab as well. We want to make sure newbies find their way because we find that if we can get newbies to understand what to do and get started, they tend to stick around.

Having said that, we do understand the desire to have 1 click access to all sections. I have the same frustrations myself! :slight_smile: At the moment, we have deliberately suppressed the submenu from appearing until after the main tab has been clicked. Again, we are trying to ensure that newbies are not distracted. We are planning on running like this for a while but could at some point re-implement the hover and click sub menu or at least make it an option for power users.

Settings/Account duplication. Yes, we have intended to remove duplicate fields for a while but it somehow keeps getting bumped down the priority list.

We thought the Help button would actually stand out more than the previous text “Help” link in the same location which not many people saw either. Perhaps we need a combination of both somehow.

Numbering active and archived lessons falls into the it would be nice category but we have a lot to do and limited resources so no guarantees here. Deleting lessons is coming. I don’t think Collections will be coming to Courses anytime soon. This page is designed around Lessons. We are looking at a link from the Lesson back to its Collection so that you could access this list easily both to find new Lessons or to access old Lessons.

There are some good suggestions on the Library and we have additional thoughts here ourselves. Fixing the library is a priority. Unfortunately, we are restricted a little bit by the original structure of the library. We will probably attempt some small improvements initially to see what can be achieved here without a major rewrite. Again time and resources are limited so we have to decide what to spend our time on.

All the suggestions on the Community are coming. Sooner rather than later. Although, sharing of vocabulary lists is not in the plans at the moment.

In fact, the Share this Lesson and Advanced Settings are not used by everyone. Only those people who want to share content or who want to add content from external urls. They are deliberately closed to simplify the page. People importing for their own use, who make up the bulk of those importing, do not need these extra settings.

People are free to import anything they like but can only share copyright free content. That is why an additional step is required for this.

We always have to consider the impact on the page of having a larger flash player. The widget already takes up a lot of the window so we are not inclined to take up more room with an enlarged player. And, we can 't find a better place to put it that scrolls with the text.

Improving the LingQing system is something that is high on the priority list and is something we have been doing incrementally since we first started with TheLinguist years ago. As you can imagine, there are restrictions to what we can do. At the time we updated the widget last we attempted to automatically insert translations from the dictionary but this was not easily achieved. That is how we ended up with User Hints so that at least we could leverage the work of individual users in creating our own dictionary of hints that we could insert automatically.

While wanting to improve the speed of LingQing we also want to reduce the amount of space taken up by the LingQ Widget. We have plans for a minimized widget and hover display of User Hints which would allow the creation of a LingQ and insertion of a previous hint in one click.

Hotkeys for different actions are a good idea and have been talked about before. We just need to find the time for this.

Separating native and user interface language is a common request as well and is on our list.

Linking the username to the profile is a good idea and relatively easy to do. We’ll add it to the list.

There are some display width problems at lower screen resolutions. We are aware of the problem and hope to address it in the coming weeks.

The indication of the number of lessons in a category is something that was initially specified but was abandoned at some point. I can’t remember why. We will look at this again. Links to translations and identifying lessons with common tags is on our list of Library improvements.

flexaJ I like your suggestions for the Lesson page. I’m not sure how feasible the synchronized scrolling of the list and the text is but I would be most worried about the additional room that this new function would take from the page. I already feel that the LingQ widget takes up too much room on the page, especially at lower screen resolutions. However, this gives us grist for the mill as we look at improving this functionality.

Now, if only all it took was a quick snap of the fingers! :slight_smile: Be patient. We’ll get there.

Hi Steve, this is similar in principle to what I have suggested earlier when I uploaded some Jing flashes - in other words - a great deal of time can be saved front-loading the data in to the lesson and to let the user’s browser handle most of the heavy lifting tasks of presenting definitions to the user on it’s own steam without having to rely on the server to spoon-feed the web browser as it is doing now.

i will “mock up” something along the lines that flexaJ is suggesting and put up a link for people to evaluate. On LingQ, however, it’s not actually (web developer speak follows) a frame at the bottom so the methods I use with frames will not be directly translatable to the LingQ site, but it can give you an indication of how such a method would actually feel.

Instead of a frame below, I have suggested having the definition “hover” above the text. I’ll include that link as well so these sorts of methods can be test-driven and evaluated for things like plausibility, ease-of-use, integration etc.