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Some usability-observations

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Some usability-observations Empty Some usability-observations

Post  modul1100101 on Sun Jul 29, 2012 3:47 pm

Hi,

Among the various map navigation apps out there, Oruxmaps is certainly one of the most promising ones. It has helped me use offline maps in my holiday, and I appreciate the time you put into it! However, I agree with the other posters that there are ways to make the interface clearer.
I guess my main point of concern is the complexity of the program. True beauty comes from simplification and reduction, especially in the mobile app world. If Oruxmaps tries to be everything at once and make everything configurable, it could ultimately be less useful for everybody. I would not offer a switch between an „expert mode“ and a simple mode, as such a concept rarely helps anybody. There are always ways to satisfy the expert without scaring off the new user, and usually both new users and experienced users will profit from a simpler, more focused interface.
My opinion is that the whole „please add an option...“ thing is usually not very helpful. In fact, remove options! Be courageous and tell people that you would rather not add their requested feature.

Icons

Others in this forum have already hinted that some of the icons may be problematic. As it turns out, people are not as good in recognizing new icons as the programmers think. Once you deviate from the standard icons that almost every program has, there is a very high probability that users will fail to recognize the right meaning. Oruxmaps makes use of countless symbols, so it might be a good idea to do some user tests with friends and relatives to find out what people think symbols mean, especially when they are shown out of context. In many cases, good old text is the better option.
There is a curvy icon for tracks and there is a straight road symbol. I was not sure what the difference is. They seem to lead to mostly the same functions. I found that a bit confusing. Also, you should probably decide whether you call it tracks or routes. The manual uses both. Just pick one and stay with it.

The home screen

Oruxmaps has a „home screen“, but I agree with some of the other posters that it might be better off without it. The screen slows you down when you open the app. It forces you to make decisions before you can do anything. Buried deep within the settings, there is an option to skip the home screen, but who actually finds this?
I have to select between online and offline maps before I get to see the map. Why not start off with a reasonable default (online maps) and let users switch on demand later, as it is already possible? The icons for the two are a little arbitrary: an eye is for „offline“. Maybe this could be a memory card or something. Clicking on „online maps“ or „offline maps“ does not open an online or offline map right away - which I found odd - but lets you configure the data sources. In the online sources, there is yet another option „WMS creator“, which was beyond my comprehension. Maybe you could find some everyday term to label that functionality. And the button to reset the map sources usually does nothing, which brings up the question: does it really have to be there?
To actually see where you are on a map, you have to hold one of the two buttons. Although the manual explains this, it is very hard for a new user to figure this out.

The settings menu

There are way too many settings and options. It would be better to figure out the one variation that is most helpful for the users, and then just discarding the others. Custom cursors? Why bother people with such excessive detail? And why offer people the option to switch back to old-style toolbars, when you have spent time and effort to improve them?
In many parts of Oruxmaps, it feels as if the default settings are often slightly weird, but can be changed within the settings menu. Working with the program, I had a feeling that some settings were optimized for very particular use cases, not necessarily for the way the majority would use the program.

The map screen

The cursor is probably the single most confusing thing about Oruxmaps. It sits in the middle of the screen and indicates - well - nothing, unless the screen happens to be centered at your actual location. The cursor just sits there. I have seen several people staring at the cursor in disbelief, before asking me: „what is that? Is that where we are now?“, and then I always had to explain that, no, that was just some random thing always sitting on the screen. My best guess is that you need the cursor for setting waypoints or something like that, but this is a major usability issue. Google‘s little blue arrow just shows you where you are and where you are headed. Plain and simple. Why not do the same here?
The switching of the „map mode“ (north up, compass) has to be configured somewhere in the settings. But that seems to be rather important, so it would be nice to be able to switch it from the map view. Also, I don‘t know what the „normal“ mode does, or what the „upwards“ option does.
The „Zoom 1:1“ button does nothing, so it seems. Based on the icon with the arrows pointing to the middle, I thought that maybe this would get my current GPS positions, but that is not what it does. (The very same icon is re-used for merging tracks!)
When I press the back button, there is a massage telling me that I have to press the back button again to go back to the home screen. I did not understand why that is so.
The Android settings button (three lines) does not work in map mode. Instead, the Oruxmaps button (which I never recognized as a button before reading the manual) now has most of the settings in it (about, tutorial etc.). Maybe this could be merged in future releases.
Pinching to zoom first appears to let the user zoom very exactly, but then, when I release my fingers, the map snaps to a layer zoom level. The usual use of pinching is to let users specify the exact section they want to see. I can use the volume button for zooming, which is interesting, but also breaks the established meaning of that button. Worse yet, those buttons use digital zooming and don‘t perform layer changes. Why not always switch to a useful layer, no matter what method of zooming is used? Who would ever want to look at a smudgy digital zoom of the large-scale map when a better layer is available? The manual says that this can be a „little confusing at first“. If you have such sentences in a manual, you know deep inside that something needs to be changed.

The heart rate monitor

To be honest, I‘m not sure if the heart rate monitor should be part of Oruxmaps. It adds a whole different aspect to the navigation application and complicates the interface a lot. There are apps for runners, where heart rate monitoring is an obvious features, but in map navigation software? How many people even own a device like that? I might be wrong here, but it seems like this should be in a different app. Maybe a spin-off that is focused on running would be nice.

Apart from that, Oruxmaps is a great piece of software, and I wish I had the time and energy to start a project like that. Keep up the good work!

-- Daniel

modul1100101

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Post  Kocour Mikes on Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:37 pm

Oruxmaps is not complicated. Navigation, cartography, geodesy is extensive field of study;-). I used 3 years OziCe for WinCE, this program has 300 functions (buttons and informations), 18 screens, each screen pixel is configurable, what, size, color...) Royal navigation:-). Android no has similar navigation...

Orux is very good, usable, in something better.

But in something is for me also confusing: two cursors for position, two lines to the point of navigation, unnecessary for me menu items...

My idea is many functions, bat full configurable menu map screen and popup-menu (possibility forbid), choose which items I want to see. Example: "Menu Waypoint" - I us only Create and Manage, never Photo, Geocoding, Geocaches, Settings.

For beginners is good idea any "Simplified mode".

For advaced users is good many functions, WMS, Custom cursors (I us own, better:-), Zoom option (I us comfortable Volume button for zooming)... and very, very more.
Kocour Mikes
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Post  zmart on Wed Sep 26, 2012 9:18 am

Dear Daniel,
thank you very much for your extensive and very usefull posting which I agree almost to 100 percent!
All of the points are reasoned and I think in the same way.
The last time I never updated to the new versions because of the inflated features and the more and more confused features (if you lost your settings you sit hours to find and set them again ;-(
Orux is a ingeniously programmer but he should be helped by a professional surface-designer and usability-specialist.
Sometimes less is more (I`ll also never understand what a heartrate-monitor have to do in a navigation tool :-(!
There are a lot of good ideas in the improvement-section that means really IMPROVEMENT and not EXTENSION, but never commented by orux - regrettably.
I`m watching at the further development with a lot of nosiness if there is a stop or turn (I`ve suggested a long time before to work with plugins for the extensions).
Thank you again for this good posting!

zmart

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Post  TheDuke on Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:37 am

+1, I think similarly

greets
TheDuke

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Some usability-observations Empty disagree

Post  noordfiets on Fri Oct 05, 2012 8:56 am

Let's brake down the comments

ICONS

tracks and routes differ. A track is a recorded path while a route is a predefined path to navigate along.

HOME SCREEN

There has been an option to bypass the homescreen and go to the last used map for ages

SETTINGS

While it may be confusing to you it is not to others. Custom cursors are very usefull, I use them a lot. The large amout of options makes it possible to tailor the program to everyones needs, so should be considered a bonus. IF you don't use them, don't bother with them.

MAP SCREEN

What's wrong with a cursor? How else would you know what point of the map you are pointing at? It is also used for distance calculating.
Digital zoom is very usefull, since bitmapped maps are not rendered the same way as vector layers.
Your pinching comment is wierd: if you would like users to zoom to an exact level: it is digital zoom what makes it possible.
Don't forget most vector maps are defined in layers. Changing zoom would force you to step up/down a layer. Digital zoom is the only way to go in between.

HEART RATE

Just a single menu entry. If you don't need it just don't bother with it.

==

In general I would suggest you to dive in to the world of geocaching and learn more about the way maps are build and used. Oruxmaps delivers an outstanding performance in this field. It is not a simple navigation-app like there are many around but a real tool. The target for Orux is the geocacher and not the occasional traveler.
A comment in which you ask a programmer to downgrade his program to suit the average user is very odd.

noordfiets

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Post  NAVTAC on Thu Oct 11, 2012 6:05 pm

noordfiets wrote:In general I would suggest you to dive in to the world of geocaching and learn more about the way maps are build and used. Oruxmaps delivers an outstanding performance in this field. It is not a simple navigation-app like there are many around but a real tool. The target for Orux is the geocacher and not the occasional traveler.
A comment in which you ask a programmer to downgrade his program to suit the average user is very odd.

I agree with your statement about the quality of Oruxmaps. However, the developper should be cautious not to build in too much functionality. I don't agree with your observation that the geocacher is THE target for Oruxmaps. Oruxmaps can easily be used for e.g. (inshore) sailing or biking.

NAVTAC

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Post  noordfiets on Thu Oct 11, 2012 7:27 pm

Oruxmaps can be used for any purpose imaginable involving maps and routes, but that does not take away the fact that the main goal is geocaching/tracklogging. As for sailing : Oziexplorer might be better suited for that.

noordfiets

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Post  andek on Wed Jan 02, 2013 3:59 pm


I think heart rate feture is great, I use Oruxmaps with all kind of activities, and it's noce to be able to compare energy spent on the activities - it' a good way of comparing trips.
If possible - I'd even like to add option to upoad to sportstrackerpro or similar website for analysis, to get best speed/minute, altitude gain/minute etc. - OR - have such analysis right in Oruxmaps.

andek

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