Forum Sparklines

A few days ago I wrote about sparklines which are an interesting way of adding non-intrusive visual information through small graphs. I implemented some sparklines in the Geneone Forum mainly as an experiment but they seem to have been well-recieved (better than I expected) and I believe they are worth developing further.

The following screenshots come from the Evolution 5 Forum which has a different skin from the Geneone default so the actual look of the sparklines on a Geneone forum will be different. All the screenshots are from live data.

Forum View 

Sparkline 

A small sparkline has been added to the right of the "comment count" for each discussion. I thought this was the most logical place as the sparklines were directly related to the number of comments. The sparkline shows the number of comments made in the 7 previous days.

The sparkline has shown some interesting trends. Some discussions seem to have decreased in activity exponentially whilst others fluctuate.

No body has actually gone out of their way to complain about these mini-graphs but some people noted they are quite nice. The graphs certainly add a bit of clutter to the page but they also provide another way of visualizing data so these factors will have to be weighed up against each another.

Further work and investigation:

  • Investigate the best location and placement for the graphs.
  • Investigate the best way to format the graph (line or bar, width of bars, etc)
  • Determine how useful the information is.

Discussion Pages

Sparkline 

In the sidebar, the number of views and comments are shown along with graphs of activity over the last 14 days. These two graphs are pretty unintrusive so I don’t think anyone would have a problem with this information in the sidebar.

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