18 March 2011

Feedback requested on designs for version 2


We have already received lots of excellent feedback on our beta version 2 (beta.plsqlchallenge.com). One of the first reactions was "Couldn't you use graphical elements (color, icons, etc.) to make it easier to see the quizzes that can be played?"

Ah, yes....color! Images! How modern...how Web 2.0. :-) The PL/SQL Challenge site has so far been a very text-heavy and kind-a-boring table site. And that is precisely a reflection of my own limitations of design, development, and experience. Hey, I still think that SQL Forms 3.0 was the pinnacle of Oracle's development tools. Lines, boxes, green....what else do you need?

Well, it's 2011 and you need more. So I have asked Chris Shaw of Wilmington Marketing to provide a design that my friends at Apex Evangelists (and do check out their very cool new website) and the rest of the development team can then implement.

I share with you below our current concept for the welcome page (what you see when you visit www.plsqlchallenge.com and you are not logged in) and the home/dashboard page (what you see after you've logged in). We hope to start implementing this design on Wednesday, 23 March, so I'd love to hear what you think...ASAP. In particular, we'd like answers to these questions:
  • Are all the features available through the new Dashboard intuitive? If not – which feature was not obvious and how would you improve it? 
  • Are all the features available through the new Dashboard relevant and valuable? If not, which ones would you remove/add/change position? 
  • If you are a long-time daily player, would you stop and visit anything on the new home page before logging in? If so, what?
  • There are several new “additions” to the challenge. Is it clear what they are and what to do? If not, please suggest improvements.
Some other comments before you check out the screenshots:
  • Generally, I believe that players on the PL/SQL Challenge segregate into two groups: (1) competitors. You come to compete (as well as learn). You care about rankings and scores. You want to see how you are doing. (2) learners. You take the quiz and you care about your rank (though you might also be playing non-competitively, in which case there are no rankings), but you are primarily interested in learning. I would like the website to make clear that if you are not a competitor, you can still easily get to the information you want. And to not "scare you off" by thinking you have to be some sort of PL/SQL expert to play the Challenge.
  • Given the above perspective, I have changed "Past Quizzes" to "Library" and "Rankings" to "Compete". I don't think they will stay that way, but I want to keep reminding myself about this distinction. Do you think this is a good idea?
  • With 2.0, you will be able to play a guest quiz and view up to 5 past quizzes without logging in. I want to make it easier to see the benefits of registering before you go through those steps.
  • We are still sorting out exactly what data points would show up in the dashboard images, so feel free to let me know if anything in particular is really important to you.
OK, drum roll, please....

Here is the welcome page:

And here is the home/dashboard page:


  1. Huge letters, huge pictures... But where is the TOP N ?!

  2. This looks nice.
    But like Vitaliy says, the top ranked players deserve some regognition.
    They should be on both the welcome page and the home page.
    On the home page you can move the "my profile" to the upper right and place the top ranked players on the spot of the "my profile".

  3. I am happy to give top ranked players their recognition.

    Currently, the ranking scorecard is at the bottom of the home page.

    I think that I will leave it there, under the competition list, so it will have the same visibility as before, only we will make it look so much prettier.


  4. For the top rank list, can you add the logged-in user's entry as well, if they're not in the top 10?

    i.e. if they're on #11, show them right there under #10.
    If they're #12 or lower, add a spacer record ". . ." then their ranking, e.g. "25. Joe Bloggs (you)".

    This would be more for the "competitor" type of player who will be interested in knowing where they sit in the rankings.

  5. I like the changes, but the word "Compete" doesn't do it for me. It is a verb, and implies that clicking it will allow me to compete in something - instead, it takes me to a report. I think "Rankings" was better.

  6. Jeff, I agree. Rankings is a better label (not a verb) and also clearly enough is relevant only to competitive play. I will change it back for next beta.

    And I do agree about adding the currently logged in player if they are not already on the top-ranked list. On to the ER list it goes....

  7. Hello Steven,
    Jeff Kemp above simply took out the words from my mouth regarding replacing back "Compete" with "Rankings", due to exactly the same reasons.

    Apart from the graphical aspect, I just posted on the current site Feedback page a technical problem I encountered with today's beta site quiz, and for which I needeed an attached picture added (that is why I don't post it here).
    I think it's a problem that deserves some insight, because I also experienced it during the last playoff and its effect can be really disrupting for the player.

    Regarding the graphic of the home pages, it is very nice, though the whole site looks a little bit "more demanding" than the actual one...

    And, yes, I am happy that you mentioned
    FORMS 3.0 :) :) :), our main development tool
    for many years ... due to which we learned (and invented !) a lot of tricks and not a few PL/SQL :) :) :)
    I loved it, as I also love its subsequent newer versions, though I am also curious to learn apex some day ...

    Regarding the pictures ... that's nice ...

    I even thought of maybe adding to the personal profile the possibility to upload a small thumbnail picture of each player, just like
    those on this blog ... of course, for those
    who will choose to use such an option.
    It could be nice to also see your fellow friends that you are competing with.

    Thanks & Best Regards,