Saturday, May 14, 2011

Color Me Old-Fashioned

A fantastic idea from Risto Saarelma on how to re-design the comment section of the website Less Wrong:
Provide an ambient visual cue on how old a comment is. First idea is to add a subtle color tint to the background of each comment, that goes by the logarithm of the comment's age from reddish ("hot", written in the last couple of hours) to bluish ("cold", written several months or more ago). Old threads occasionally get new comments and get readers in via them, and the date strings in the comments require some conscious parsing compared to being able to tell between "quite recent" and "very old" comments in the same thread by glance.
Too true. Who takes the time to read the actual date of a comment? This way you wouldn't have to.

This sort of subtle clue is something that people will appreciate and pick up on quickly. For example, on the blog Marginal Revolution you can always tell whether Tyler or Alex is posting because Tyler only capitalizes the first word in the title of his posts whereas Alex capitalizes all of the words in his titles. Knowing this, you won't have to waste time scanning the byline as you plow through your RSS feeds because you'll already know who wrote it from the title.