User needs and requirements
During the initial meeting with the focus group, the following
needs and requirements were identified.
- Read articles
- Post articles
- Follow-up to articles
- Browse news groups
Reading articles is one of the fundamental, must
have features of any news reader.
Posting articles is also a fundamental feature of
any news reader. Without the ability to post articles no discussions
can take place, nor would there be any articles for people
Follow-up to articles: Threads are quite important
within Usenet, they allow the client to identify discussions
and also allow the user to reply to articles with their comments
Browse news groups: Displaying the articles available
within news groups is also necessary. Without this the user
would be required to enter an article ID in order to view
a specific article.
Additionally, the focus group identified several abilities
which would be very useful in any news reader and would improve
- Catch up with groups: Catch up marks all unread articles
within the specified group as read.
- Subscribe to groups: Mark a group as ‘subscribed’
so that it can appear in the list of subscribed groups.
- Unsubscribe from groups: Remove the ‘subscribed’
marking from a group. This group will no longer appear in
the list of subscribed groups.
- User preferences: Individual user preferences are useful
to allow a user to specify their real name and email address,
so that when they post an article to a news group others
can identify the person.
- Group ordering: It is often much easier to find a particular
news group that you are searching for if all of the news
groups available are ordered alphabetically, or some other
form of ordering such as numerically by the number of unread
- Show only subscribed groups: Displays only the groups
that are marked as ‘subscribed’ in the news
- Identify unread articles: It is important to, one way
or another, show the user which articles they have read
and which ones they have not.
- Threaded article view: Discussions are considerably easier
to follow if the articles are threaded. This means that
it is easy to identify a ‘follow-up’ articles
and the parent article, the one which the article refers
- Multiple style sheets: Due to the nature of CSS, it is
possible to switch between style sheets to present the web
system in a completely different way depending on the information
held within the style sheet. As such, this is an easy way
for the end user to choose a ‘theme’ for the
system that feel most comfortable using.
- Toggle display of read/unread articles: Sometimes the
end user only wishes to read recent, unread articles and
are not interested in older articles. Similarly the user
may wish to look for an old article which would have already
been marked as read.