Week 4 – What next?

This week has been primarily planning how to add further to the Dashboard Completion module. Had to move out of my apartment, so that has taken a good chunk of my time this week. When my proposal was initially drafted, the focus was on achievements. As I looked into it, it made sense to complete the Dashboard Completion module, per the original WP ideas list. From there, I would be free to move onto achievements. At this point, however, it looks like a lot of the achievement-like functionality can in fact be built into a Dashboard Completion module. The focus would be slightly shifted from the social aspect to giving task feedback and guidelines as to what a user can do next. This makes sense in lieu of not being able to host a central achievements server, which would be necessary for the social aspect. Alternatively, working achievements into BuddyPress may spread the time for this project too thin, not being able to reach the potential of the Dashboard Completion module.

In building a list of tasks, I have noted that there are few “bare bones” tasks, items you’d consider unanimously necessary for any WP install. There are many conditional tasks that I foresee as triggerable, such as after you’ve gotten your first comment.  This is where tasks start to look like achievements with a slightly different focus.  For instance, it may make sense after you’ve posted a lot to trigger a “create/organize your posts into categories” task.  Other, more involved tasks could include linking with other websites.

In addition to a larger set of hooks and tasks, there are improvements that can be made to give users task highlighting.  As a user clicks on a task to the relevant page, the specific field or relevant area to the task would be highlighted.  This type of additional feedback could be provided in other ways such as listing the tasks that can be completed on a certain page.  Another idea is to provide specific and discoverable information for each task.  Presently, there are check-mark, x-mark and addition icons indicating task status/information.  A question mark icon would be added which would expand into detailed task information when clicked.  This information could foreseeably include links to external resources.

Two thoughts override and emerge from all of these ideas.  First, there is no sense in going far beyond what need a Dashboard Completion module  is supposed to fulfill.  A Dashboard Completion module is meant to be a simple roadmap of what new users or experienced users can easily have feedback on basic setup tasks.  Second, the basic overlap between achievements and the Dashboard module is the monitoring user activity.  As users interact with WordPress, the system logs that activity and then displays it in a certain way.  This type of functionality may be applied in a potentially more useful way for the scope of this project.  My initial thoughts are to work some kind of analytics type feedback tool, specifically working with WordPress hooks, but I have done little research into this.

Some of what I’ve posted here is straightforward and worthwhile, while some is still very undecided.  Any feedback you would like to provide is greatly appreciated.