Pretty underwhelming really, isn’t it.
There is more to this than just the US-Centric product focus. There are also some pretty significant (in my opinion) flaws with the way that the Map service has been designed.
Let me start by saying that once you *find* the map section, then adding your photos to the map (assuming there is a decent map of the where you took your photo) is a real pleasure.
But here’s the problem – when are you *most* likely to add locations to your image?
I’d hazard a guess (and it is only a guess, perhaps Flickr have user research to show differently), but I’d guess that it would be at the point that you’re uploading your photos. I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty much the only time that I add things like tags to my photos. And it’s when I’m uploading a bunch of photos that I might think about putting them into a set.
(Again, this is dangerous business, looking at your own behaviour and theorising that everyone else’s behaviour is the same… so I’d be interested to hear how/when you add tags or make sets… and at what points you think you’d add geotagging to your photos).
Alas, while you’re uploading your photos, and even once you’ve uploaded them, there’s no hint of the map.
When I went to explore FlickrMaps this morning, I literally felt as though I was hunting for them. Where was the first place that I went? Well, to the detail page of one of my photos, of course. I was sure I’d find a call to action asking me to put my un-mapped photo on the map. Nope.
Eventually I got to – ‘oooh, the organiser’. Perhaps it’s there.
And there it was.
So, I find the Maps either because I’m hunting for it, or because I happen upon it. This means that I’m unlikely to geo-tag very many photos.
And, as demonstrated by the map of London and number of uploads, it seems that not so many people *are* geo-tagging their photos.
BUT – things may not be as they seem. Did you notice that strange paging device on the map? This one:
Do you get it? I sure don’t. Maps and pages… what is this? An atlas? (See it in context in the image at the top of this post)
After playing with it a while I learned that if I clicked on the arrows to the left or right I got to see the map refresh and show me different numbers of photos uploaded in different locations. Apparently this is a page.
Now, am I just being thick, or does the concept of ‘pages’ just make no sense at all on a map like this? I don’t know about you, I’m basing my expectations on the other Yahoo and Google Map mashups with all the masses of pins poking out all over the place. And no pages.
I can’t even begin to get my head around what a page might mean in this context… what goes on one page and not another? And playing with the pages didn’t clear things up for me either.
I can’t think that these pages are helping the situation any though, because according to this widget there are 3.5 million images that have been geo-tagged. That’s a pretty impressive number.
Go play with the map though, and tell me where all these images are… I sure can’t find anywhere near that many. I’ve played around with England, NSW (Australia) and East Coast USA and I don’t reckon I’ve seen more than three thousand photos on the map (and that’s erring on the generous side).
One of the great challenges of Interaction Design these days is that we now have a plethora of new ways to design interaction on the web than we did just a few short years ago. Drag and drop is probably one of the best – creating a sense of empowerment over the interface that can sometimes result in an almost joyful user experience.
Despite the fact that we’ve been designing with drag and drop for a while now, it’s taken this long for me to have the opportunity to do some good solid user testing with users comparing drag and drop with more traditional interaction styles. That is … clicking :)
In the test that were we performing we were (amongst other things) examining the use of drag and drop and clicking to perform two types of tasks: to select objects and place them onto a stage, and to manipulate objects on a stage.
One interface used drag and drop for both tasks. One interface used click to select and drag and drop to manipulate.
When users were interacting with the prototype that used drag and drop for both functions it was common for them to make unsolicited comments about the interface – generally expressions of delight at the responsiveness of the interface and the novelty of the interaction method. Of course, drag and drop is not really so novel – many users are accustomed to this method, and we found that no users (of the 15 we tested) were unfamiliar with the drag and drop method or had any difficulties understanding how they were expected to achieve their task using drag and drop. (The interface did include a small instruction to drag and drop onto the stage).
Some of the tasks, such as removing objects from the stage and understanding how many objects could be dragged onto the stage were not immediately obvious, but through brief experimentation the users were rapidly able to achieve these tasks and exhibited no difficulty. In fact, in many cases they were saying ‘I wonder if I drag this back here will it delete the object’, as they performed the task and were pleased to discover that it worked exactly as they had expected it might.
When users were interacting with the ‘click to select’ interface, there were no such expressions of delight with the interaction, however they also had no difficulty achieving all of the tasks involved in the test.
Later, we asked the users to compare the two interaction experiences and talk about which they preferred and why. Without exception, we found that our test participants preferred the click to select interface over the drag and drop interface – despite the feedback they had given at the time of testing.
They agreed that drag and drop felt ‘fun’, and ‘creative’, but overwhelmingly stated that it was unnecessarily complicated, and that it was just as easy, or easier, to click. ‘Dragging was a drag’ was one of my favourite quotes. :)
On the other hand, users unanimously agreed that drag and drop was an ideal way to manipulate objects in relation to each other (particularly, to change the position of objects in relation to one another).
Based on the results of this testing, the logical findings seem to be that drag and drop is ideal for manipulating the position of objects on a stage, but that when ‘selecting’ objects, simply using click to select is preferable. Even considering that we may be wishing to create an interface that is fun and creative (which was why the full drag and drop approach was originally considered), the inefficiency of this method detracts from the user performing their task. Selecting the objects was considered a preliminary task, and the ‘fun’ part started when users got to manipulating the content.
When thinking of the best examples of drag and drop interfaces (and I think that moving around maps is a great example of this), it is once again the manipulation of objects on a stage and not object selection, that seems to be common.
Of course, it is also important to note that choosing a drag and drop interface also significantly compromises your ability to deliver an accessible interface. This should always be an important consideration when selecting an interaction method.
Designing a drag and drop interface? You could do much worse than refer to the Yahoo! Design Pattern Library where they’ve spent a lot of time thinking about all of the components of the interaction and what you’ll need to consider.
Have you done any testing with drag and drop interfaces? I’d be really interested to hear what you’ve found.