Updated post: Please see the end of the post for a new mock-up!
I’ve been cooking up this idea as a long-term project outside of my general MA work and I’d really like to get some feedback.
The Idea: Commenting has taken off, and it is an important facet of online media for blogs, websites et al. The majority of comments are always put at the bottom of a post or article. Web usability expert, Jakob Nielsen’s research on how people read online found that many web users scan a page in an ‘F’ shape. He summarises it as horizontal, horizontal and then vertical (link). His research has shown that many users do not spend the majority of their time at the bottom of an article, where the commenting system tends to be.
The Aim: To encourage deeper user engagement, where the reader chooses ‘where’ they want to comment on a picture or article, as opposed to at the end.
How would it work?: I have created a mock-up below on how it could look if developed. This is very crude and not sophisticated so forgive me for how basic it looks. I just whipped it up in Publisher.
If you look at the image above, there are two text-boxes. I have written a tutorial below on how a Charcoal reader for example could use this comment system.
Step 1) You see this new image of Beyonce’s HOD line. Instead of commenting at the end of the picture, you may have lots of separate thoughts about the picture that will be better illustrated if you annotated it.
Step 2) You put your cursor over where you want to comment. In the case of the first comment box, it is Beyonce’s hair and in the case of the second comment box, it is Beyonce’s shoes.
Step 3) A comment field would appear where you as Commenter A or Commenter X would write in your comment. If I agreed or disagreed with anything you wrote, I would reply to your comment.
Step 4) If you then wanted to make the comment boxes invisible for a while to study the picture, you could turn the comments off which would make them invisible. Naturally, you could turn them back on.
Would this replace normal system of commenting? No, this is an idea to enhance how people comment online. As Nielsen’s research shows that people read in an F shape, this would mean that the reader has greater power to choose where they want to comment.
What formats of online media would this suit?: I think this would suit image heavy websites such as fashion magazines like Vogue or V. It could also be adapted to e-commerce fashion websites like Topshop where shoppers could comment on the picture of a shoe they liked and say why they liked it.
This could also be used on sites like flickr.
Who would use this system?: I have not done any surveys yet but my immediate assumption is this would suit the following type of commenter:
- An engaged user loyal to a particular brand. E.g.: a frequent reader of an online magazine
- A user who likes to give his/her opinion when and where he/she likes
This is a general idea and I would really like to get some feedback from any readers with thoughts on this.
Here are the questions for feedback
1) What do you think of this idea?
2) Would you use this idea? If yes, please state why and if no, please state why.
3) Do you think this makes commenting more complicated?
4) Are you a regular commenter online?
5) Do you think commenting has declined since Twitter launched?
6) Do you think systems like this make people want to comment more?
7) Would you prefer to comment at the end of an article?
Please take part and thank you!
Update @ 20:07pm: Here is another crude mock up I have made to illustrate my point better. The comment boxes could then be used in this financial example for stock speculators to comment on the market data that is shifting (based on the Bloomberg data below).