Our next release: "Show Password" and Improved Search

Among the big-picture upgrades we've been working on for awhile, our upcoming release features a bunch of lower-key interface tweaks. We strongly believe that the little things can make as much difference to our users as the big things. A seemingly-minor interface improvement might be just the thing to speed up a common task, which in turn makes for a much better experience for our users.

Two such changes slated for the next update are a Show Password option on the login screen and a new Search field.

Populi requires strong, complex passwords. Weak, easily-compromised passwords are a huge security problem; a strong password policy improves security. However, the better your password is, chances are you've had to abstract it from real language... thus, making it harder to remember or type correctly. To help you with this, soon you'll have a Show Password checkbox to help you enter it accurately. Among other things, we're hoping it will encourage the use of stronger passwords by making it easier for you to use them. When showing your password, of course, you'll need to be more vigilant about over-the-shoulder snoops when using Populi in public places.

We're also changing our search field. The old version, for posterity's sake:

Appearance-wise, the new search field fits in better with our overall direction for Populi's look and feel:

When you're not searching, the field hides behind the Search tab. When you need to find someone or something, just click it. The field opens, the cursor ready for your entry; when you're done, just click elsewhere on the screen to hide it. Need to search again? Just click the tab, and your last search—with all the results—is right there.

The interface update actually conceals a subtle speed improvement in how Populi handles searching. Previously, you'd enter your term, get the results, click elsewhere to work... and then, when it came time to run the search again, you'd have to refocus, click, and press enter. These steps actually required Populi to run the search all over again. But the tab lets Populi save your last search and all of its results.

Good interface design factors in many things—like convenience, performance, and user behavior, to name but a few. We're restless and relentlessly self-critical when it comes to how well Populi adheres to good design principles. Thus, even things like logging in and searching—things for which our customers never request support—don't escape our attention; even the simplest things are subject to improvement. We revise them because we trust that these details will add up, in the long haul, to a much better experience for all our users.