Thursday, October 18, 2012

Release of the Spoke Toolbar

As we are fully implementing the full vision for our business intelligence platform, we are getting a lot of feedback from users, experts from different fields as well pundits from the media industry. The bad news is that we have a long road map ahead of us and the good news is that we are fully energized and ready to tackle the challenge.  The two Davids, Mike and Allen are very excited by the technical challenges ahead of them and Matt and I are energized any time we are meeting new people and are able to explain where we are and where we are going.

One of our core development axes is information context. As of today, even though we are leading the race in this area compared with many other business information sites, we think we are far away from where we should be. We need to make advances in two different areas: keeping the context of the information and providing more ways to link pages with each other.

Today, we are delivering our first foray in trying to tackle the problem. We are introducing a toolbar that maintains the context while you are navigating away from our pages. This toolbar enables you to navigate from one piece of information to another without losing the context of the page.

There are few drawbacks to this approach. First, we are not able to do it for all pieces of information. While there is obvious value in doing so: some sites, such as The New York Times, don’t allow external toolbars on their site; and second, sites such as Facebook make it even more painful, and require you to click on a link to access their sites when you are navigating using an external toolbar. But overall, we all have been using the toolbar for a while now and we have come to rely on it more and more. So we believe that the value of this toolbar far outweighs the drawbacks.

The more astute users will notice this new navigation toolbar is not the same as the one you use when you are navigating within Spoke.  We have a lot of discussions internally and we will find a way to unify our navigation metaphors.

Please give us feedback on all of this. Let us know if you like the concept and how we can adjust the toolbar to make it more useful.

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