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Color the Stacks and Notebooks from dropdown button


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29 replies to this topic

#1 mrpaulstark

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Posted 10 September 2011 - 05:32 AM

It's kind of embarrassing that this hasn't already been implemented. Usability studies show that color coding 'folders' separates them as concepts in users mind more effectively than just text titles alone. Google docs has implemented this feature perfectly on the pulldown for each 'collection' folder. It speeds up project navigation and slightly lessens the strain on users attention spans. Since the work people do on this site requires a lot of mental prossessing, you are obligated to minimize the any processing needed to navigate the interface.

There is no downside to this feature -- if people never want to use it, it's hidden harmlessly in the drop down. Despite this, the last thread on this topic was full of useless detractors who couldn't articulate an actual drawback, yet wanted to put in their 2 cents and say that it wasn't necessary.

If you want this feature, join in the call. If you don't, you'd better have a bloody good reason for it in your post. Here's some reasons that aren't boody good enough:

Reason: Its unnecessary.
Answer: Usability studies prove the benefits mentioned above, and Evernote is obligated to pursue those benefits for its users.

Reason: It's just eye candy.
Answer: You're wrong. See first answer.

Reason: Just learn to use tags.
Answer: Tags require the mental work of thinking up and typing a search term. Colored folders quickly flag where to click and lessen the mental load.

Reason: It's not a feature that scales across the different clients.
Answer: SHUT UP AND GIVE ME THE PRETTY COLORS DAMNIT!!

#2 Richard Feynman

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Posted 10 September 2011 - 06:11 AM

It's kind of embarrassing that this hasn't already been implemented.

Despite this, the last thread on this topic was full of useless detractors who couldn't articulate an actual drawback, yet wanted to put in their 2 cents and say that it wasn't necessary.

If you don't, you'd better have a bloody good reason for it in your post. Here's some reasons that aren't boody good enough...

Answer: SHUT UP AND GIVE ME THE PRETTY COLORS DAMNIT!!


You seem rather angry about a relatively minor detail, that reflects unhappiness, and your arrogant know-it-all tone reveals insecurity, I suspect you live in your parents basement. Usability studies have shown that's not good for your health.

#3 mrpaulstark

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Posted 10 September 2011 - 09:38 AM

Being an obsessive compulsive doesn't prevent people from being happy or successful in their normal life -- but when a detail is out of place in one area it starts to grate on their nerves. I've had EN for nearly a year now, and I love the service, but every day it bugged me a little bit more that this feature I used in similar programs wasn't being implemented. Today the straw broke the camels back and I unleashed all of my nerd rage.

Me being a jackass doesn't change the fact that this is a useful and unobtrusive feature. Many of the top competitors implemented it long ago, and saw measurable improvements because of it. It needs to be implemented eventually and the squeaky wheel gets the oil first.

BTW, your projecting makes you a jackass too, so climb up on the jackass wagon and have a seat ;)

#4 jbenson2

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Posted 10 September 2011 - 01:30 PM

Many of the top competitors implemented it long ago, and saw measurable improvements because of it.

Would you care to justify your position by offering some citations from top competitors?

#5 Richard Feynman

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Posted 10 September 2011 - 01:51 PM

Touche MrPaulStark. Personally I've found that sugar goes a lot further than the squeaky wheel, especially when you're just one person of thousands on a forum.

I know that usability studies show that making the color of the active folder/tab etc. different makes it easier for users, I'd have to see some references for why making folders different colors makes it any easier, especially when as with EN you can have 250 different notebooks! Windows Explorer doesn't do it, and I don't believe the Mac OS does it either. One Note does it, and it's not useful for me in the least, I actually prefer a single color because I'm focusing on the name of a folder, not the color, and 50 different colors loses all meaning. I can see where some users might like it if they use a lot of colors as a way of visually tagging something, and they choose the colors themselves

#6 mrpaulstark

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Posted 11 September 2011 - 06:33 AM

I've been trying to find the study I read, but its not turning up. I'll drop it here if I find it. Google docs has gone through a couple of design iterations for this feature so somewhere in their archives they must have their own usability measurements.

I've personally worked on an e-learning project where after a bit of development we examined the curriculum closely were able to identify 5 different classifications of lessons. When we redesigned the lesson navigation system and colored each lesson according to it's class type we got overwhelmingly positive responses. It helped people to understand the relationships between data objects. This is anecdotal and wasn't a formal study, but it should show that a consistent color code allows you easily show when an element is member of a specific class. This is very helpful for studying. You may also have a couple of notebooks within a stack that are deservedly separate, yet share a unique connection. This is a perfect opportunity to communicate their relationship with color. Every time you see identically colored notebooks you are reminded of their connection, and it tends to stick mentally.

If you have 50 different stacks you probably aren't editing or reviewing the contents of most of them very often. Even if you don't feel up to creating an elegant color classification system, you can just use colors make the most important stacks pop out from the static.

Also, I'm glad we're friends now Mr. Feynman. I'm a big fan of your work on bongos.

#7 megsaint

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Posted 11 September 2011 - 12:36 PM

I find colors distracting. I much prefer the Lion approach. iTunes is much cleaner looking now, too. If EN starts offering color, I hope it's optional so I don't have to have it inflicted on me.
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#8 blaster219

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Posted 11 September 2011 - 01:09 PM

MacOS did at one point have colour-coding. Back in the System 7 days, you could use Finder to "label" a folder (an early prototype of tagging?). Each label colour-coded the folder icon.

Ubuntu (at least the version on my parent's PC) can also apply a colour or background image to folder windows as well as custom icons.

Also, the Windows client (and probably the Mac as well) already colour codes notebooks. Grey for local notebooks, green for synced notebooks and blue for shared ones :)

#9 jefito

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Posted 11 September 2011 - 02:47 PM

Just curious. At what level of granularity do you want this feature to apply? Should notebooks have their own colors? Tags? Or should the colors be totally separate from the note/tag organizational scheme? Or should it be an attribute of notes?
~Jeff
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#10 mrpaulstark

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Posted 12 September 2011 - 12:32 AM

I find colors distracting. I much prefer the Lion approach. iTunes is much cleaner looking now, too. If EN starts offering color, I hope it's optional so I don't have to have it inflicted on me.


No. They would have to be optional as there are plenty of people like you who wouldn't want to use that feature. All notebooks and stacks would be the default color initially and you would need to change it from their dropdown menu.

I'll have to go into more detail later, or tomorrow. I'm pretty busy at the moment.

#11 Metrodon

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Posted 12 September 2011 - 09:31 AM

Evernote don't seem particularly inclined to provide this kind of user option. In fact, for the Mac client Evernote staff have provided the resource file data for the toolbar icons to users so that they can change them themselves.

I'm guessing that you aren't going to get anywhere with this.

#12 s2sailor

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 09:13 PM

Just curious. At what level of granularity do you want this feature to apply? Should notebooks have their own colors? Tags? Or should the colors be totally separate from the note/tag organizational scheme? Or should it be an attribute of notes?

This wasn't addressed to me, but I'd like to take a stab at what I would find helpful. I would like to see color options and icon options for Notebooks, Tags and Saved Searches in the left panel. It would be nice to be able to set the foreground and background color for any of the entries in these left panel sections and also to set an icon (selectable from some small collection). I realize others may view this as distracting eye candy, but for me they can provide a visual filter. Keep what we have as the default, but provide colors/icons as a select-able option. I would use it, in particular, with saved searches. I have a fairly lengthy list and I sometimes have to hunt for what I need. Selecting a different color for the few that I use all the time would bring my eye to it quicker. I add special characters today to force them to the top of the list which works, but a color difference would still, for me, provide a better visual distinction ... my 2 cents.

#13 jefito

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 09:33 PM

This wasn't addressed to me, but I'd like to take a stab at what I would find helpful.

No worries... this is an open forum; your opinion is just as useful as anyone else's.So just colors (and possibly icons) for notebooks, tags and saved searches, but not notes? That doesn't sound like an unreasonable request. I don't know of any plans to add color-coding Evernote in that manner, but hey, over the next 100 years, you'd think they might get around to putting something like that in somewhere along the way. Thanks.
~Jeff
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#14 Metrodon

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 09:37 PM

That 100 year company reminds me too much of the 1000 year reich....

#15 s2sailor

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 09:52 PM

So just colors (and possibly icons) for notebooks, tags and saved searches, but not notes?

Yep, just the left panel would suit me fine, but I can see where others may want that expanded to notes. I was a former v2.2 user (yes, one of them ;) ) and it allowed for a bit more customization in that area which I sort of miss. Though I don't miss the tape view ... may it rest in peace.

#16 BurgersNFries

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 09:55 PM

Evernote don't seem particularly inclined to provide this kind of user option. In fact, for the Mac client Evernote staff have provided the resource file data for the toolbar icons to users so that they can change them themselves.

I'm guessing that you aren't going to get anywhere with this.


Agreed. IME, EN tends to focus on function over form. (However, there have been debates on this board in the past that form is function...) Anyhoo... at least so far, you'll notice no skins, themes, color preferences, smiley faces, pretty icons to add to notes, etc. Back in the day when I used mostly hard copies, I agree, color coding was helpful. The purple folder was my expense report file. (Translate: $$$) Easily/quickly found in my filing cabinet. But, IME, that really doesn't translate as well to digital data. It's pretty, sure. And I'm often on the pretty colors bandwagon. If you look at any of the screen caps I've posted on these boards (and they are legion), I have girly colors. OTOH, I don't select an app based upon whether I can make the screen pink or not. (shrug) Lord knows I've downloaded more than a few "pretty" apps on my iPhone (most of them cost me a buck or few) and yet they are rarely used. OTOH, FastEver, FastEverSnap, Egretlist get used pretty much weekly. AFAIK, none of them have "pretty stuff."

My point is I think that EN is focusing on KISS (keeping it simple) so they can focus on the, uh, focus of the product.
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#17 jefito

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 09:58 PM

That 100 year company reminds me too much of the 1000 year reich....

Hopefully it's not "100 Years of Solitude"...
~Jeff
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#18 s2sailor

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 10:23 PM

My point is I think that EN is focusing on KISS (keeping it simple) so they can focus on the, uh, focus of the product.

Thanks for the response. Yes, I understand and agree with their focus. I'm an infrequent poster but avid reader of the forum so I've seen most of the prior discussions on this topic. The different slant that I was trying to present was that, at least for me, color (or icon) can be a type of filter, or at least a visual clue to the entry. I agree that applications that strive for pretty can be quite busy and distracting. In EN, I think the optional use of color can provide a useful function.

I believe color can actually translate well to the digital world. Very similar to your folder example, I have a saved search for conference call phone numbers. I could find that much easier in my list if, for example, there was a phone icon next to it, or maybe a background color of yellow. I think selective use of color can be very helpful.

I don't mind EN not working on this for a while, as long as they are working on highlighting ;)

#19 jefito

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 11:05 PM

I don't mind EN not working on this for a while, as long as they are working on highlighting ;)

Hmmmph, more color stuff. :) Well, we know they've been working on that, on at least one platform, so it's probably on its way for others...
~Jeff
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#20 Richard Feynman

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 11:14 PM

Also, I'm glad we're friends now Mr. Feynman. I'm a big fan of your work on bongos.

But do you like orange juice ;-)?




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