Friday, October 14, 2005

Review of Panoramio (1/2)

Eduardo has contacted some pals in the usability field, and Christopher Grant and Albert Ribera sent back to us a review of Panoramio. They found a lot of little and not so little problems, so I decided (with their permission) to post it here along with my replies. I will start with the problems found by Christopher, as they were already in english. Happy reading.

BUG: I search for “Accra, Ghana”. On the one hand I get an error message “No places match this name” but the searching animated icon does not disappear.


  • Fix bug

  • When place is not found send mouse focus back to search field

  • Write error message in red.

Yup, the search is horribly broken. I will be working on it next week. Good idea to put the error message in red.

Login, register, help, blog, forum and link to this page links don’t make sense together


  • Add username and password fields to toolbar area. Include links for register and forgotten passwords. Include help link in toolbar area but seperate it from login area with a divider.

  • Move help, blog and forum links to upper right-hand corner. Group blog and forum together. Help should be seperate.

Yeah, right now it's a bit of a mess. My preferences are however different:

  1. Remove the "Link to this page". Only experienced users now how to copy an url out of a link, or what it means at all. My plan is to update the real url in realtime without reloading the page. It should also put each movement in the history of the browser.

  2. Group together Help, Forum and Blog, as these three links are useful to people looking for help / more info.

Register is not a very “webby” word.

use the same terminology as Yahoo, Google, Flickr, etc.: Sign Up (Darte de alta), Sign-up (el alta), Sign In (logarte)

Done. But I have not yet taken a hard decision on this one. The old wording may be worse in english, but I'm sure it was much clearer to our non english users. I may revert to the old wording even if only until I internationalize Panoramio.

When I’ve signed up or signed in, the help link disappears.

Recomendation: don’t remove this link. See point #2 “login and link” placement.

Done, good catch.

BUG: I upload a photo of Chicago, but when I search for other photos of Chicago, I am shown a map of Belize.
I also search for Cincinnati, USA and the search box recommends “Cincinnati, Zimbabwe”.

US and Puerto Rico places are not yet indexed. That’s explained in the help, but obviously I should give a proper error message, and it should say “No places matches”. (Or start working and add US cities to the database.)

Search feature is very uncomfortable, I can’t tell when it’s started or stopped searching.

Recomendation: add “Search button”. Don’t show the animated searching icon until the user has clicked on the button.

It was thought as a mean to give the user feedback about the different places in the world that can match its query, in real time. Obviously it's not working, so I either make it much much faster or I will have to ditch the whole idea.

I click on the help link and am taken to a new page with no link back to Panoromia.

Recommendation: place help content in a pop-up window.

I don’t like pop-ups, but a link back to the home is indeed needed.

I didn’t bother to read the text in the toolbar and had a very hard time figuring out how to upload my pictures.

Recomendation: don’t expect the user to read the toolbar text. Include a large “Add your photos” which opens a bubble that explains how to upload pictures and how to navigate from place to place using the map.

I don’t like the “big links” approach. It sometimes makes links even easier to dismiss, as they start looking like logos or ads. But your concert is very real… I put the relevant text in bold, as is by far the most import in the whole toolbar. Maybe I should put it in the last place in the toolbar, because there is less clutter in the middle of the page (over the map) than in the left side (over the previews).

BUG: When I try to upload a PNG the system takes 2 to 3 minutes to tell me that only JPEGs are accepted.

It also says that only jpegs are accepted in the Upload picture balloon. I will put an additional client side test to ensure that the file ends with .jpg or .jpeg.

BUG: When browsing other people’s pictures I see a delete link which allows me to delete pcitures that aren’t mine.

Wow. That thing is of course also checked in the server, but it’s disturbing anyway. It's fixed now.

While browsing other people’s pictures I decide to search for Athens, Greece. The “searching icon” appears but I am not shown the results until I click on the “Back to map” link.

Recomendation: as soon as the person begins a search, automatically jump back to map and show the location searched for.

Yup, good suggestion. It was also on our to-do list.

While browsing other people’s pictures I am constantly scrolling down to see the map and locate the place the picture was taken.

Recomendation: move the map above the fold.

If I do so, I fear you will be constantly scrolling down to see the picture. I tried to put the satellite mini map to the right of the picture, but there was not enough free space to put it on 1024x768. Eduardo suggested to put the mini map at the bottom of this page, and I think it looks better there.

It’s not clear which pictures appear in the left.hand column.


  • As soon as the user clicks on a picture in the left hand column, show the picture in the right-hand column, zoom in on the surrounding region and show all of the pictures from the selected region, not just the picture that has been selected. Use colors and borders to distinguish between the spot where the selected picture was taken and the spots marking other available pictures from the selected region.

  • When the user mouses over a spot marked on the map, show aa thick red border around the picture that corresponds to the place on the map. Then, when the user moves the mouse off of the market spot, remove the red border.

I will take a look at this suggestion later. My brain seems to not be able to digest it right now :-)

BUG: When I try to go back or forward I see the following error message:

[Very weird error message™]

Never seen it, but I will try reproduce this. Note to my dear readers: The image was not readable, so just believe that it was a very weird error message..

I can’t tell how many pictures are available throughout Panoramio or just in the region I’m browsing.

Recomendation: Include the total number of pictures uploaded in Panoramio’s history and today. Include the number of pictures available for a given region and show me where I am within the search results (“25-50 of 310 pictures”).

Yup, done. But I still want to improve a bit more. A link to each “page” of pictures would be better.

I can’t “reset” the app, ie. I can’t get back to the very first screen I saw with a view of the whole world.

Recomendation: Include a “reset” or “zoom out” or “home” link.

The “Panoramio” word is a link to the very first screen. I hope when we have our logo ready this will be much more evident.