I had cause to start a Writeboard the other day.
I was still in idea capturing mode so I wanted to write down some bullet points just to get everything out on “paper.” I couldn’t recall if an asterisk was the proper thing to use to get bullet formatting so I clicked the handy Formating Guide link in the right column.
The page got all Ajaxy on me, shoving most of my content below the fold, to display the formatting guide.
I verified that my formatting was accurate and closed the guide. But then I got to thinking, there isn’t much in the guide. Why hide it? I can see how you might not want to see it all the time, but then I thought, why push the content I am trying to format below the fold?
The mockup below isn’t perfect, but it’s how I would change the Writeboard UI.
Move the formatting guide to the right column, under the link that you use to show and hide it (and change the link to Display Formatting Guide/Hide Formatting Guide). This does a couple of things…
It follows Fitts Law, keeping action and outcome associated to each other by keeping them close to each other physically.
But more importantly, for me, it doesn’t push the content area below the fold. The formatting guide can be re- uh… formatted :) to fit in the right column even though, like I said, my mockup makes it look like content is being cut off. Those are at 1024×768 but the design is liquid (though slow to change as I resize). Point being it can be done.