User Experience Tests Show Gutenberg’s UI Elements Can Benefit From Better Timing

Over the past few months, reviews for Gutenberg have trended towards a love/hate relationship without much in between. To figure out why this is, Millie Macdonald and Anna Harrison of Ephox, the company behind TinyMCE, analyzed the feedback and concluded that many of the issues likely stem from timing.

“In short, the nuances in the micro-interactions and timing of UI elements in Gutenberg are a little out of sync with what the user is doing at a point in time,” Harrison said. “For example, a user typing in a new paragraph is distracted when the decoration of the previous paragraph turns on.”

A common piece of feedback is that Gutenberg’s UI is clean but also cluttered. Harrison recorded a video of users copying and pasting paragraphs into Gutenberg and Medium.

In the video, toolbars and UI elements are displayed in Gutenberg during the writing process creating a cluttered look and disrupting the writing flow. In Medium, the formatting toolbar doesn’t display until text is highlighted and the + symbol disappears if it’s not interacted with.

Based on user testing, Harrison suggests refining the timing of when visual elements pop up in Gutenberg. “Right now, menus pop up when we are trying to type,” Harrison said. “They ought to pop up when we are trying to do something to words that have already been typed.”

Harrison presented their findings and suggestions to Gutenberg’s development team. Tammie Lister, design lead for Gutenberg, agreed that getting micro-transactions right is important. “I see this as the type of refinement post version 0.9/1 can bring,” Lister said.

“A few things I am slightly obsessed with is having an animation pace, story and consistency to interactions. Just something to throw in when looking at micro-interactions. I’ve also been doing some self thinking about what the ‘feel’ of emotion of Gutenberg should be. The one I keep coming back to is ‘calm’ and ‘supporting’. Just another thing to throw in when looking at these smaller details.”

Developers thanked Harrison and Macdonald for collecting, analyzing, and sharing data with the team. Does Gutenberg feel heavy to you? Let us know what your experience is like writing content in Gutenberg.