Friday, September 9, 2016

Fine-tuning the Quiz-taking Experience on the Oracle Dev Gym

Back in June 2016, we announced "early adaptor" access to the Oracle Dev Gym, a new skin on top of the PL/SQL Challenge quiz platform.

Since then, we've gotten lots of great feedback, and lots of usage on the site. Players have set up 543 monthly goals, with over 2,200 workout exercises (with 1,200+ actually completed :-) ). Plus more than 4,500 quizzes have been answered at the Dev Gym, vs. the "traditional" PL/SQL Challenge.

All good news.

When I held our first live Dev Gym workout with the Chicago Oracle User Group two weeks ago, however, I did get some very critical reviews of the quiz-taking experience.

Basically, we are using too much real estate for players to easily see the code in the question and the various multiple choices, some of which can be very long in and of themselves.

So we went back to the drawing board and made a number of changes, which we rolled into production today.

To summarize:
  • The left sidebar is closed by default to minimize distraction and usage of page real estate.
  • Each choice now uses up less space. We've reduced white space and padding wherever possible.
  • There is now a "scratchpad" in the right sidebar, so that you can write notes to yourself (comparisons between choices, for example) that remain visible even as you scroll up and down the question.
  • Choices can be expanded or compressed - individually or as a group. With just a click or two of your mouse, you can zoom in on a single choice, or two, allowing you to focus attention more tightly.
Note: there is one known issue with the collapsing process. When you collapse all the direction icon on the left is not changing. So you need to click twice on it to expand a particular choice. We should have that fixed soon.

We explored other possibilities, like using sliders to allow you to have the question remain on the left, while you scroll up and down through the choices. We decided not to pursue this approach because it does not work well on mobile devices, and we are aiming for a smooth, responsive website regardless of your device.

I offer some screenshots below to give you an idea of what we've done. Please do take a quiz on the Dev Gym (accessed through the PL/SQL Challenge) and let us know what think.

Oh, and that's not all: we've also added a dashboard on the home page.

And if you have other suggestions for improving the quiz-taking experience or the dashboard or anything else, don't hesitate to click on the Feedback link on the top right of the site!

Scratchpad

See something on Choice 1 you want to remember when looking at the other choices? Jot it down!



Collapsed Choices

You can Expand All or Collapse All and then fine-tune from there.













Just One Choice Uncollapsed

Open up one or more choices selectively. The banner on each choice displays green if you've selected it as correct. This is visible even when collapsed.












Dashboard

Let us know if you'd like to see different information or see this data differently (visually).


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