Loomio
October 9th, 2012 22:38

Email notifications

Jon Lemmon
Jon Lemmon Public Seen by 59

Our current (lack of) email notifications seems to be hindering continued engagement with Loomio at the moment. Let's have a think about what the ideal form of Loomio email notifications might look like.

First we should look at how other webapps do email notifications and compile a list of what works and what doesn't. Then it's a matter of splitting up "what works" into bite-size features that we can tackle one-at-a-time.

User interviews are going to be crucial for speccing out this feature. We aren't users that are failing to engage with Loomio, so we aren't the main demographic this feature is targeted toward. So we really need to get some information from our users that are failing to engage about what they actually want, and what sort of email notifications from Loomio would perk their interest and make them want to visit the site and engage.

Jon Lemmon

Jon Lemmon October 9th, 2012 22:42

Our current (lack of) email notifications seems to be one of the biggest things hindering continued engagement with Loomio at the moment. Let's have a think about what the ideal form of Loomio email notifications might look like.

I think first we should look at how other webapps do email notifications and compile a list of what works and what doesn't. Then it's a matter of splitting up "what works" into bite-size features that we can tackle one-at-a-time.

I'm imagining that a good place for us to start might be daily summaries -- with the most important information at the top (this would be where @mentions and proposals closing soon would be) and then general summaries at the bottom (maybe including comments from discussions you have participated in).

I think this particular feature is where user interviews are going to be crucial. We aren't users that are failing to engage with Loomio, so we aren't the main demographic this feature is targeted toward. So we really need to get some information from our users that are failing to engage about what they actually want, and what sort of email notifications from Loomio would perk their interest and make them want to visit the site and engage.

Richard D. Bartlett

Richard D. Bartlett October 9th, 2012 22:50

I'll interview Beka, she mentioned yesterday she's missing a lot of proposals

Jon Lemmon

Jon Lemmon October 9th, 2012 23:05

I think we should come up with a list of general questions we can ask users. Apparently the questions you ask have a big impact on the feedback you give (go figure). Open ended questions are usually better. Let's compile a list in the context panel.

Jon Lemmon

Jon Lemmon October 9th, 2012 23:13

Maybe

  • "How would you like to be notified about new things happening on Loomio?"
  • "What do you want to be notified about"

I'm guessing Keong would probably have some good ideas for interview questions we can ask our users. Does someone who is in the office wanna get his input?

James McCann

James McCann October 9th, 2012 23:55

I find the Yammer "daily digests" are pretty good to this extent - I get notified about a lot of stories on there I would otherwise miss.

For a question, maybe, "How are you typically notified/informed about decisions within your group/organisation?" and try and model the existing options.

Richard D. Bartlett

Richard D. Bartlett October 10th, 2012 00:38

Keong says: ** do your user profiles!!! **

and his suggested questions:

  1. How is Loomio going for you?
  2. What are you using it for?
  3. How do you find the notification system now?
  4. What do you usually do with the notifications?
  5. If there was a perfect solution to notify you of stuff, what would it look like?

Then optionally we can show some paper prototypes of some potential solutions we've come up with.

I wonder if it would be useful to go right into detail and get them to tick boxes for email/site notification of all the events:

  • New Discussion
  • New Proposal
  • New Comment
  • New Position
  • Block
  • Request access
  • Access approved
  • Proposal closed
  • Proposal closing soon
  • Outcome set
  • Comment Liked
  • @Mention

Anything missing from that list?

Richard D. Bartlett

Richard D. Bartlett October 10th, 2012 03:35

I put those 5 questions to Beka - she has low-to-medium level engagement. Some highlights from the interview:

  • I ignore any emails unless they come from someone I know;
  • I have trouble keeping track of everything going on; the notifications on the discussion list and the dropdown are overwhelming and unclear, what do they mean? Give me a tooltip
  • the discussion list notifications shouldn't be red, that means I have to do something, make them blue or green
  • I don't really want to be emailed all the time but a daily digest could be cool. Also if there was a daily digest view on the homepage that would be good.
  • the most important thing I want to be notified by email about is when proposals are about to close
  • the ideal notification system would show me a stream of all activity, with the stuff I care about highlighted with customisable colour, and floated to the top of the list.
  • when there is more than one proposal on a discussion, it's not clear enough that I have to make another decision. The 'Previous decisions' title should explicitly say "closed", maybe in red.
  • give me a tooltip on everything! what is the question mark?
 vivien maidaborn

vivien maidaborn October 10th, 2012 08:14

As a bus dev type I am delighted to see this conversation happening. Certain,y customer feedback I am hearing supports an email before a proposal closes. The other engagement challenge is for people who want to keep using email as their central tool and respond directly out of email. Another feature set, I know but Definately another engagement issue.

Danyl Strype

Danyl Strype October 23rd, 2012 02:42

I'm confused. Has the formerly-existing email notifications system been removed? I used to get an email every time a new discussion started, and every time a new proposal was created, which was more than enough to keep me engaged, and not so overwhelming that I filtered it into a black hole folder and forgot about it.

Benjamin Knight

Benjamin Knight October 23rd, 2012 21:30

The existing notifications system is still there, but we're getting lots of very clear feedback that people want to be notified by email when there's a proposal closing soon so they don't miss their chance to participate in their group's decisions. Since this is the central function of Loomio, it's important we get it right.

Great that you find the current level of notification enough to keep you engaged. Unfortunately it's not the case for lots of our users, plenty of whom aren't used to regularly checking any online communication medium other than email.

We're going to be working hard on striking a happy balance between providing sufficient notification to keep people engaged and informed, but not overloading high-activity users who don't need external notification. The goal is to have a high level of customisation so people can choose exactly how much they want to be notified, by group.

Alanna Irving

Alanna Irving October 25th, 2012 20:07

i feel very strongly that whatever we implement should have options around it your preferences. some people, especially power users who will likely be our biggest champions, use notifications very differently than the average user. by the numbers, we're probably a small percentage of "user personas" but I can tell you from my frustrations with yammer and facebook notifications being optimized for the masses and completely ignoring the need for customization that it can quickly lead to the people with the more influence over technology decisions in the group to want to jump ship.

Richard D. Bartlett

Richard D. Bartlett October 26th, 2012 10:13

Jump ship to where?

Benjamin Knight

Benjamin Knight October 28th, 2012 22:04

To totalitarianism of course!