TUCOWS ARTICLE

What's New @ Tucows

An introduction. My Profile. AJAX UI feedback. Dancing Cows. Where's Search?
Published: Nov 5, 2007
Author: Alfred Ayache

Hello. My name is Alfred Ayache. I'm the developer responsible for the Tucows content website.

I'll be writing this column on an irregular schedule (no potty jokes) to let you know what's new and improved on the site.

The new design was launched July 11, 2007, and we're still tweaking it. We have a long list of features yet to be implemented. Which means you have a lot to look forward to! We're really excited about bringing you these new features and facilities.

My Profile

There's a new option when you log in to the site: My Profile. It's in the upper right quadrant next to Sign Out. This enables you to modify your password and email address.

There'll be more to come on this page, so stay tuned.

AJAX UI Feedback

As I'm writing this, we're in the midst of implementing some exciting changes to the user interface.

The Sign Up, Sign In, and Solutions and Software navigators are all controlled by a technology called AJAX. This allows you to interact with the site's database without requiring a refresh of the whole page. Google's Maps and GMail applications are possibly the most famous examplars of this technique.

AJAX is supposed to be quick and responsive, but even Google sometimes has to display a "Loading" label. Up to now, when our AJAX calls took multiple seconds to complete, the user (you) was left wondering if anything was happening. We've fixed this with a number of user interface (UI) feedback improvements.

First, on the Sign Up and Sign In dialogs, error messages are displayed with a white background, which quickly fades to black. This will bring the user's attention to the error message.

Second, error messages from previous attempts are cleared when you submit a new request.

Third, in the Sign Up/In dialogs and the Software and Solutions navigators, while the page is waiting for data to load, the section will be darkened and (best of all) dancing cows will appear in the upper left corner of the section to indicate activity. (OK, full disclosure: the dancing cows were inspired by Flickr's revolving pink and blue balls.)

Of course, the downside to the dancing cows is that people may seek out slow response requests in order to enjoy at their leisure the grace and beauty of the prancing bovines.

Where's Search?

This reminds me of the Where's Waldo? franchise. We get multiple emails each month asking where we've hidden the search box. It's hiding in plain sight: in the upper right hand corner of just about every page.

This is the de facto standard spot for search on websites. OK, maybe it could be a little further up, next to the Sign Up/In links; and if that's what it takes, we'll be happy to move it there.

The search module used to say "Find solutions and software". In response to the "Where's Search?" emails, we recently changed it to "Search solutions and software", with the word "Search" in bold. And guess what? We still got a "Where's Search" email after the change.

We hope these changes will significantly improve your user experience on Tucows. And, of course, if you have any comments, feel free to send us some feedback, or better yet, sign in and add a comment below.


About Alfred Ayache

Born at a young age, Alfred showed early promise in programming when he coded what is largely thought to be the world's first online casino on his father's calculator. When the tax evasion charges didn't stick, he fell in with a bad crowd (telecoms). It wasn't until the full flowering of maturity that he discovered his true calling: web application development. Alfred feels honoured and privileged to work at Tucows, with the very talented Content Division.

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