Ideas for inbox dropdown

RG Robert Guthrie Public Seen by 40

Ok so I really wanted to jam on some ideas to fix notifications - removing normal thread activity into what I'm kinda into calling "inbox" (after being dissatisfied with "unread discussions")

In this concept we keep everything the same except we add a new dropdown next to notifications called inbox.

It is a easy way to find unread threads. The advantage is all the 'commented in' and 'started a new discussion' notifications in the notifications dropdown would disappear. Leaving just likes, mentions, proposal events?, and membership events in the notifications.


Whaddya think? I'm most into the bottom right design. The top left might be a page.. This is essentially the "Daily Activity Summary" with dropdown (or mobile friendly) formatting and only unread content.


Richard D. Bartlett Sat 11 May 2013 10:43AM

I really, really like the bottom right. Is it worth thinking about 'stars' at this point, or is that the next step?

I'm imagining you set star defaults at a group level: i.e. I want to be notified of everything in Services so I set the default to star all new discussions and decisions. I can unstar anything to remove it from the Inbox.


Aaron Thornton Sat 11 May 2013 9:28PM

I wonder if daily activity will be redundant if you have this unread dropdown. You will probably spend all your time dropping the list down. I thought the workshopped plan of an 'Activity page' displaying all unread activity per group(which is foldable) was a much clearer concept. I kinda think taking all the information an throwing it in a dropdown might become quite crammed. I guess I am saying I prefer this as a page.


Robert Guthrie Sat 11 May 2013 10:22PM

Thanks for the feedback guys.

@richarddbartlett I totally agree that a subscription/following system is the next step.

@aaronthornton I wanted this to be a dropdown because otherwise people will have a
Load discussion, go back, load discussion cycle.

I want to target the daily catchup workflow (and I guess I'm also into eventually making this an app rather than a set of pages), so I'm really into the idea that the next thing you want to read can be found from the page you're on - after all this is what notifications was supposed to be doing.


Robert Guthrie Sat 11 May 2013 10:26PM

Also, regarding making this a dropdown vs a page.. If we made it a dropdown right now, then we would not have to rethink the dashboard. I could potentially make this in a day and it will just improve stuff without breaking other stuff. I feel the urgency for an immediate solution to our notifications problem


Jon Lemmon Sun 12 May 2013 12:06AM

Great mockup. I agree with the concept of not wanting to leave the page you're on to navigate to the next discussion, and the bottom-right mockup looks real good (I like the way it displays the proposal name underneath the discussion).

It doesn't have to be displayed on the top nav-bar though. It could be a collapsable left-hand panel like traditional email clients. That said, we are a bit tight on horizontal screen real-estate.

Also, my first question when I saw this was, what happens to the dashboard? I think having both at the same time could be quite confusing for users. I can hear the question being asked in all of our users heads, "What's the difference between this and the home page?"

Perhaps they can be the same. Although then we'll need to build an alternative way of viewing a list of all of the discussions (read and unread) in your groups.

Also, personally I don't think this is a day's work. Maybe one day to get the first iteration out, but I think it would have lots of bugs if we tried to build it and release it in one day. I'd say that by the time the feature is designed, developed and debugged, it will have taken at least one week of dev time. However, not to say that it isn't worth it! I'd just like us to start getting a bit more conservative/realistic/holistic with our estimates, otherwise we're putting false pressure on ourselves and releasing buggy features.


Robert Guthrie Sun 12 May 2013 1:17AM

Hi Jon,

I agree about the left hand panel, but I don't want to take on that kind of redesign yet. I want to do that soon, but I am restricting this feature to be as easy to build as possible as I'm really worried about the notifications as they are. I fear we are losing users because of this.

The dashboard stays the same. If people are used to/like how that works then great. This is just another way of doing things and we'll learn from what people say about in contrst to the dashboard.


Robert Guthrie Sun 12 May 2013 1:26AM

Btw.. I'm not saying we have to use this. I'm just telling you this is how I've chosen to do this branch this weekend, as an experiment for people to try. And I want to see if I can build it all this weekend. I get depressed with the idea that we can't do neat stuff quickly.


Robert Guthrie Sun 12 May 2013 5:08AM

Ok! Inital prototype to play with is in branch called feature/inbox-dropdown

I ended up doing it as a page and including mark as read functionality..

No migrations required, just checkout the branch and load /inbox to see.

Not production ready but good enough for people to try and think further about.


Aaron Thornton Sun 12 May 2013 5:39AM

Hey Rob. I'm seeing it now.
It will be very cool to stay on the discussion page until you had read all your unread discussions.
My Test database has lots of crap so the list is very large, but i guess one you start using this feature the list would stay in check. If the select option links were on the same line as the group name it would take out quite a bit of length from the list.


Robert Guthrie Sun 12 May 2013 5:48AM

Thanks for checking it out @aaronthornton!

My db had loads of unread discussions too.. so many that it made implenting the dropdown as mocked unrealistic - I immediately needed a way to select all and mark as read.. so that's where my development went.

Now that I've tamed my unread discussions list from 50 or so to 0, a dropdown would be a nice way to catchup on my unread discussions.

Yea.. the CSS is terrible.. I wonder what the best way for me to improve my CSS skills would be?


Richard D. Bartlett Sun 12 May 2013 6:20AM

@robertguthrie re: skills transfer, I've been thinking it might be a nice habit for developers to get into, when they complete a feature, to give a quick run-down to the rest of the team summarising what they've learnt.

E.g. doing the translation project taught me lots about I18n. It would be pretty easy for me to post up a couple of great resources and give a ten minute workshop to teach all the other devs the basics. We could do the same with CSS?


Robert Guthrie Sun 12 May 2013 9:46AM

Here is another revision..


This features an x button to mark as read and the line will dissolve away.


Richard D. Bartlett Sun 12 May 2013 10:04AM

@robertguthrie I think double-line text in the index could be good, it's just a not particularly good at the moment.

Current double-line is:

[discussion title] or [proposal title]
[group name]

Promoting the group name up to be a header means you can lose it from the index, so you could do:

[discussion title]
[decision title]

I think that will help reinforce the mental model that decisions live inside discussions.

Love your work on this buddy. x


Matthew Bartlett Sun 12 May 2013 8:39PM

@jessedoud might be helpful on the CSS front, @robertguthrie


Robert Guthrie Mon 13 May 2013 1:11AM

Rich I'm not sure that a decision must be embedded in a discussion.

Currently it's not clear to us (the app) if the user has read the discussion, the decision or both when they load a discussion show page.

I wonder if the user feels like they've read everything correctly when they look at a discussion page.

Anyway.. this design requires the read or dismiss all the new comments and vote on all the proposals.

This makes being the perfect Loomio user easy.

If you could configure which groups were attached to your inbox it would be pretty sweet.


Robert Guthrie Mon 13 May 2013 1:15AM

In contrast to 'inbox' behaviour - the notifications drop down currently marks everything as read when you click it. Meaning you must mentally track if you have read all your new notification items.


Robert Guthrie Mon 13 May 2013 1:35AM


Jon Lemmon Mon 13 May 2013 1:59AM

@robertguthrie personally I'd really prefer if if discussions and decisions are nested in the inbox. We've tried the other way around and it's a total pain. You end up reading the same discussion twice.


Jon Lemmon Mon 13 May 2013 2:00AM

@robertguthrie ah i see, didn't read all of the text inside your mockup... having a think now...