Why not wrap item titles?

We recently got some great UserVoice feedback from Rikki asking for a feature to wrap item titles in the Sooner Or Later lists.

This is a feature that was hotly debated by some of our testers, and I wanted to take this opportunity to explain why we explicitly chose not to implement this feature.

One of the top design goals of Sooner Or Later is that it be very efficient to use throughout the day. Since scanning your “Soon” list is one of the things you do most often with Sooner Or Later, it is particularly important that reading this list is efficient.

My conclusion is that encouraging short task titles makes the Soon list more efficient in two ways.

First, I’ve found that using “trigger words” as the title for your items is much quicker to read than lengthy descriptions, and just as effective.

For example, although you can write “Call Robert to discuss the word wrapping feature”, it turns out that “Call Robert” is a lot quicker to read and just as effective for a period of time.

That’s not to say that a long description isn’t necessary.

For example, if you let the “Call Robert” item sit in your Later list for a couple of weeks, you would probably forget the subject of the call.

This is why we created the item detail field. Use this field to write as much as you want about the context of the item, for example, “Discuss the Sooner Or Later word wrapping feature”.

If you’ve forgotten the details about an item, you can simply tap it to see the details (including word wrap) and “load it” into your brain, so the trigger words will be effective again.

I haven’t found any research to provide data about how long the trigger words will be effective, but experimentation seems to indicate that it works well enough that you shouldn’t need to view the item details more than once a day.

The second reason why short titles make you more effective is the Live Tile.

In my opinion, the Live Tile is the most important feature for making Sooner Or Later incredibly efficient to use throughout your day.

A glance at the Live Tile often tells you exactly what you need to know at the moment, without ever having to open the app.

If you used long task titles, your tasks typically wouldn’t fit on the Live Tile at a readable size. This would force you to open the app more often, at which point you’d have a lot more text to read in your Soon list, making you doubly inefficient.

So, we’ve intentionally limited the item title length to naturally encourage you to use these “trigger words” and make you more efficient!

This is just one small example of the detailed thinking that has gone into the design process of Sooner Or Later to make it simply the most effective way to manage your life on Windows Phone.

Thanks again to Rikki for the great feedback and the opportunity to explain some of the design thinking that has gone into Sooner Or Later.

If you’ve got an idea for how we can improve Sooner Or Later, we’d love to hear about it at http://hotchaipro.uservoice.com

Enjoy!

-David

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