There was something amiss in our beloved SEO tool. No, we are not talking about new features. Our users love it, but we realized they often didn’t know many aspects of it.
You can always try making a User Interface a bit clearer. No matter what your effort is, the more UI elements there are, the higher is the chance something is not grasped immediately.
As a software product producer you can do several things:
- You can carefully reword and rename things to match your users’ lingo.
- You can reduce the UI elements to the bare minimum; sometimes it is simply not possible.
- Then you make only the most common UI elements visible, using default parameters that make sense for most use cases. Advanced options should always be accessible though.
- Then you have to document.
Exhaustive context-sensitive integrated Help
We decided to document everything. Every single user interface element.
We wanted the user to have the Help available with the right explanation of the specific UI element, right there where her/his eyes are, without having to search for it.
After much discussion, the solution adopted was a context-sensitive online Help which opens in a separate window. When invoked (by the command menu, UI specific links, or by hitting the keyboard F1 key), it will open shrinking the Visual SEO Studio window to fit at its right. If you have a second monitor, you could move it there and maximize the main program window.
Visual SEO Studio window and Help window, aside
The Help is fully “context-sensitive”, which means that every time you click on a single field, column or label, the Help window will focus on the related portion detailing the clicked UI element.
The first time you use the Help window, when the program closes it will prompt you to choose whether to open it each time the program is launched.
You can always customize the program behavior by using a new Options section:
Options, online Help
We expect the Online Help to be used predominantly by beginner users, thus we used a more beginner-lever language.
For the same reason, not only we explained for each field its meaning, we also gave some knowledge about its SEO implication. For example, when saying a certain field, or a certain table column, represents the content of the
title tag, we also spent some words quickly explaining what it represents in SEO terms; when saying a field represented a HTTP Status code, we also gave a quick overview of the status code families and some example.
Users who are expert SEO professionals – while keeping often the Help closed – will certainly appreciate being able to quickly look up for the more advanced features, for contexts which are not specifically related to SEO, e.g. details about Performance suggestions, Readability Analysis, or things strictly specific to the program like using a Proxy, HTTP Authorization, or how the Verified Sites verification methods work.
The whole Help content is also available in a new “Guides” section within Visual SEO Studio web site.
The new “Guides” section
It is continually updated and improved. Since its contents are fetched from the website, you will always see updated contents even when consulted from within the program Help window.
Thorough revision of all User Interface elements
We strive to make Visual SEO Studio user interface (UI) clear at first sight. Whenever a user contacts our technical support with some doubts, it is our protocol to investigate what could have led to the doubt. If it is a lack in our documentation, we extend the documentation. If it is an issue in the UI, we treat it like a bug.
While writing the Help contents, several times we stumbled upon cases where the same concept was described with different terms in different parts of the program. In such cases we uniformed the notation as much as possible, and delegated the Help pages to explain the terms were synonyms or closely related. Many times we renamed labels to use a lingo easier to understand to the layman.
The revision was not limited to this. The most visible changes have been the addition of a new panel in the left side “Command Pad”:
The new panel and the revised File menu items
The new panel is dedicated to the administration of project and project sessions, and shares the content of main menu "File" item (with the exceptions of the "Exit" command removed and a new "View Help" command added).
Menu item "Manage Sessions" was moved from section "Crawl" to section "File". You might also notice we added or updated several main menu icons.
macOS “Dark mode” support
Users of the Mac version of Visual SEO Studio can also use the program in macOS “Dark Mode”; we revised the whole program user interface to make sure it renders correctly in dark mode as well.
DOM view in macOS Light and Dark modes
Conclusions, and what's next
Visual SEO Studio 2.1 “Chiron” is huge step towards making the program easier to use.
Other than the integrated online Help, there are about 60 Usability, User Experience and other improvements. And several bug fixes; mostly minor fixes, but everything adds app to improve user experience. For a full release notes, see 2.1 Release Notes.
The Help contents are also available on the web site, and we are next to create new video tutorials.
Now, time to launch Visual SEO Studio “Chiron”!
Update: the day after releasing 2.1, we realized we added (well, blame our Fred!) a crashing bug in the “Explore XML Sitemap” feature, which in a few hour already affected at least two users (sorry guys). So we released 2.1.1 as an hotfix.