This year we were fortunate to be able to participate in the Mozilla Labs Design Challenge, a “series of events to encourage innovation and exerimentation in user interface design for the Web”.

The Collaborative Subtitling Design Challenge was an opportunity to get our early prototypes in front of designers and usability experts who could propose alternate paths, focusing on the question “How can users quickly create a timed transcript of any video on the web?” and responding to data from a round of usability testing based on an earlier prototype of our subtitling tool.

We had several great submissions. Here they are, along with thoughts on how to incorporate their ideas into the project. Thanks to everyone who sent in submissions, and thanks to the folks at Mozilla Labs for making this happen!

The Design Challenge Submissions

1) Collaborative Subtitling Design Challenge Submission from Joanna Pierozek

This submission lists the positives and negatives of the prototype, and makes changes to address some of the negatives. Many of these are addressed in our current iteration of the widget (no more disappearing controls, a back button, better instructions, and the addition of clickable buttons). A few key points we haven’t addressed yet, and will:

  1. ENTER to split lines (or backspace to join)
  2. Instructions to users to transcribe sounds (and in-picture text)
  3. There’s still no “undo”.

We’re following up with Joanna to get her input on changes we’ve already made and planned changes.

2) “Thanks for Text” from Xanthe Matychak and Jeremiah Parry-Hill @RIT

Here the submission zeroes in on a simple but crucial question: how do you make people feel so good about submitting subtitles that they’re itching to do it again? The video (above) presents a really compelling answer, something we’ll definitely consider and also something that makes me very optimistic about the broad success of our project– watching this video I can really picture large communities of people mutually motivating each other to caption the web.

This idea doesn’t exist in yet in the code, but we are definitely thinking along these lines and look forward to involving these folks from RIT in our process.

3) Submission from Alecsandru Grigoriu

Alecsandru reimagined the subtitling interface including Google Wave and chat with other collaborators among the features.

Some of these ideas are things we’d think of as 2.0 features, but the ability to chat with collaborators in particular is an excellent idea.

One thing we particularly liked in his mockups was this initial menu bar (pictured above). We probably wouldn’t give quite as much emphasis to upload, but presenting the user with some very clear choices here is great.

4) “SubberSault” submission from Faber-Ludens

This submission from Faber Ludens in Brazil designed a complete interface on a significantly different path. It looks good and it’s very intuitive, though I think the advantage of our division of transcribe / sync steps is that with a little practice, a user can type at full speed, and finish the transcribing work in about the same amount of time it would take to just type the text. Typing is by far the most time consuming part of the whole effort, so optimizing for typing efficiency (by separating this work from the work of syncing a video) seems important to us.

The main thing I get out of this mockup that I’d like to draw from is the big clear “Ok, next sub” button. I can see users preferring large buttons to key controls, especially in the syncing step.

To sum up…

These were all excellent submissions and we’re really happy with the results. Thanks again to everyone who sent stuff in, and thanks to Pascal and Pejman and everyone at Mozilla for working with us to make this happen.

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