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Columnated category listing

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Though the 'bakery is one of the most user-friendly sites that I use, there is one situation where it can fall down slightly. Because ideas are preceded by a listing of all ideas in the same category, some ideas in popular categories appear so far down that you have to scroll down to them just to read the title. These means that you are greeted by a blank page with the menu on the left and the category list on the right with nothing in the middle.

At first I was going to suggest putting the category list in parallel with the idea, but as I occasionally view the bakery on an 800x600 screen I can see difficulties in implenting this. It might also require frames (though I'm only on nodding terms with Dreamweaver) and I'm think that might messy up the clean layout. The category could be listed horizontally across the top of the page, wrapping the text onto three or four lines (justified centre) but this would probably be quite hard to read.

I think a good compromise would be to place the category list in three columns. This should be sufficiently clear to scan for anything you're interested in, yet not push the idea title too far down the page. It might also reduce the frequency with which categories have to be divided.

My apologies to [jutta] if this has been considered and rejected before - my html skill are rudimentary.

wagster, Jan 21 2005

Slightly blanky page Dynamic_20Parking_20Lot_20Map
No longer blanky thanks to [jutta]'s fix. [wagster, Jan 21 2005, last modified Jan 23 2005]

Worlds Worst Web Page http://www.angelfir...er/badwebs/main.htm
Here's how not to do it. [wagster, Jan 23 2005]

[link]






       Ah yes, categories, the halfbakery's single point of failure.   

       Categories aren't really intended to have that many items in them. But maintaining them is hard and completely thankless, so the moderators, including myself, don't do it as much as they need to.   

       There's about 200 hours' worth of work to do in filing ideas into new categories. Boo-hoo.   

       ...   

       Anyway, addressing your actual idea -- I don't know how to make this look good as a layout. Maybe two columns; three certainly don't fit; and multi-colun layout is always tricky.   

       An alternative would be to just not show all the category members, instead limit the display to ten or so. If people want to see the whole category, they can click on the name.
jutta, Jan 21 2005
  

       That sounds promising. Could you show a random selection of ten?
wagster, Jan 21 2005
  

       I could, but I don't want to introduce meaningless variety. (The changing slogan up on the left is already bad enough.)   

       For example, someone will point out that an idea already exists in the same category, "up there". Someone else says "Where? I don't see it." A third and fourth give their observations of whether or not that other item is there, and start discussing where it is. A fifth will then pipe up and explain that it is a random selection, at which point everybody gives their positive opinion of how that, once you know about it, is a really good idea, ...   

       OK, how 'bout now?
jutta, Jan 21 2005
  

       Thanks for the link Wagster!
Susan, Jan 21 2005
  

       I hate re-categorizing. It's not the tedium it's the outright difficulty of having to make judgment calls.   

       In any case, maybe a "more..." link after the truncated list?
bristolz, Jan 21 2005
  

       Wow! Thanks [jutta], that's loads better and without any radical layout changes either.   

       I suggested a random list so that ideas that are outside the top ten alphabetically aren't left to languish in obscurity. I hadn't considered the implications of randomising the list that you point out above, but this could be avoided by titling the list "Some others from 'halfbakery : category' " or something like that. Anyway - I shouldn't carp, the problem has been fixed.   

       PS I love the changing tagline - it's small but it really adds something.   

       [bris] - I don't know how you and [jutta] et al. deal with all the [m-f-d] calls let alone recategorising. As the bakery grows you will either end up with huge categories or need a lot more mods. The "more..." idea is good too.
wagster, Jan 22 2005
  

       I'm not here to read other people's ideas and this makes little sense to me.
mensmaximus, Jan 22 2005
  

       so you didn't read this one?
po, Jan 22 2005
  

       Good solution
robinism, Jan 22 2005
  

       Yeah, one of the nice things around here is that there's plenty of white space. I'm sure you could pack plenty more info onto each page and still make it look good, but it would lose that cleanness - which is important if you spend as much time here as I seem to at the moment...
wagster, Jan 23 2005
  

       Post Scriptum.
Email to bakesperson, quoted with permission:
  

       > There is a bug in the Halfbakery (I think - it certainly doesn't look like
> a feature): look at the two ideas
>
> http:// www.halfbakery.com/idea/ Celebrity_20Bowling_20Pins
> http:// www.halfbakery.com/idea/ Scandalous_20Bowling
>
> Both are in the sport: bowling section, yet the section list is completely
> different on each. (And one reason I missed longshot's idea before posting
> mine.) (The other being an insufficiently obvious title when it showed up
> in my search on bowling pins.)
  

       This confirms my nagging suspicion that whenever you're trying to be clever in an interface and are violating unspoken assumptions about how things work ("I can always see everything in a category"), some people are going to see the broken unspoken assumption as a bug.   

       (That, and I guess the continuation marks are easily overlooked.)
jutta, Feb 11 2005
  

       To increase visibility, I might suggest bigger dots ("•••") like in [bris]' email address, but I don't know how they would appear on a text terminal. And really, if you don't know what they are, making them bigger isn't going to help.   

       Maybe instead of dots, have links ("[browse category]")?   

       (By the way - after viewing in Lynx, the dots appear as empty circles.)
Detly, Feb 11 2005
  

       People will get used to it. I take the point though, I sent an unneccesary email to bakesperson asking why some ideas still list more than ten ideas and it turns out the category list doesn't truncate until there are more than fifteen ideas in a category - not a bug, just design. Hope this hasn't generated too many emails [jutta].
wagster, Feb 12 2005
  

       instead of the "..." what about the old favourite "more"?
po, Feb 12 2005
  

       Like bristolz, I think "more..." needs a live link to the others. However, why do we need the list at all, if it's no longer all inclusive?   

       People will then click on the category link (and find the complete list), and people like me will not be fooled into thinking that the few ideas listed are all the ones in the category. As mensmaximus intimates, most of us are not busy trolling through the back issues, and are only looking at the new ideas as they are added.   

       The "other ideas in this cateogry" are only important when we're adding new ideas (so we don't duplicate them), and hardly merit the pride of place they get on the HB page. (In my not-so-humble opinion.)
DrCurry, Feb 12 2005
  
      
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