Usability Best Practices

As the community manager for our server, one of my many functions is player usability and effectively communicating requirements to our development team to support this. Many server admins depend souly on community plugins and making them work together for the player can be a real challenge. So I’m starting this post, to bridge that gap between all of us end-users and developers to talk about certain things that can be done as a general rule to improve consistency for player usability.

So I’m starting with my favorite OCD one, Text Colors! Because yesterday I made a friendly request to the system for some help text on a command and the system screamed back the response to me in RED. (EDIT: apparently Mojang likes Red help texts).

Seriously, I’m OCD about this because I’m often having 4 or 5 conversations at one time with the system, my staff, a player, my friend, etc… Colors have real power in my world. The chat system coloring helps bring the priorities to the front of my attention. When the system and the plugins are having a “rainbow of fruit flavors” all over my screen, it really messes me up.

These colors are pretty well established:

White = general chat text OWNS this. Hands off.
Yellow = System chats or emphasis. When the system is trying to add to the general conversation. (“You feel a creepy presence in the room with you…” or “Nutmegan” opens a door.
Grey = Suggestions and whispers. Unimportant details you can read if you have time to. (Nutmegan has left the server)
Red = Help Texts or warnings you should pay attention to. (In my opinion this is equivalent to using CAPS or yelling at someone.)

The others are a little more subjective, but my rule is to look and see what Minecraft or Sponge are doing and model those whenever possible. Reserving as many of the rainbow of colors as you can for admins to use with player prefixes, community announcements, etc.

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A side note, I’m sort of hoping SPONGE will consider changing the color of their Help Text messages to something other than Red.

Edit: I retract this statement. It would appear Minecraft help text coloring is indeed RED. I’ll take the issue up with Mojang instead. :smirk:

While they may be well established for you, they may not be well established for other servers. Just keep that in mind ;).

The other thing is, developers should be making things as configurable as possible, including the colors used for help messages.

Yeah, but are we? :stuck_out_tongue:

If not, we should. @zml @Minecrell

Obviously, thus my mistake in thinking help texts in Minecraft weren’t natively Red. CanaryMod help texts were in grey.

Well, that would be amazing, but I’ve never seen a plugin that allowed for configurable help texts other than chat programs. Most of the time I’m thrilled if the plugin has meaningful help text. I’m looking forward to seeing some of the clickable input options.

I think, Sponge should define some standard colors and design/user interaction principles. So there should be some best practices(like Material Design Guide).


Wow, that Material Design Guide is pretty detailed. I agree that adding some form of design suggestions to the sponge documentation would be helpful for some. Others might feel constrained by them so they should be presented as “suggestions”.

This design guide is amazing, isn’t it?
I already used their palettes to choose the colors of my presentations :wink:

Any considerations on this before big plugins will be built?