Ello Meta: Notifications -- it's actually pretty good
So ... over on G+ one use-mode I've come up with is to pretty much live in the "Notifications" Pane. This is both good and bad.
The good is that you're interacting with posts you've already selected for engagement, and where other people are interacting with you.
The bad is that Google's Notifications pane is a huge pain in the ass, eats posts, disappears, hogs memory like hell, and (unless you've restyled it as I have) is this skinny little strip that barely gives you any room to read or see what you're typing (have I mentioned how much I like Ello's Huge Ass Edit Windows?).
Which gets us to Ello.
I'm finding that having the Notifications view on the left of my screen with a current post open on the right is actually really handy. It beats the G+ mode because 1) Ello's client footprint is vastly smaller than G+'s, and 2) it's instantiated in a permanent div rather than a pop-up panel with an embedded iframe element (all kinds of mess).
But it could be better
Extend the Notifications div further up the page. Rather than suck up 1/3 of my (limited, hard to come by) vertical space with the Ello icon, and Friends / Noise / Lightning button, and Search / config tools, either scroll those off page or otherwise minimize them further. Notifications is a key UI element, and a key activity area. Give it the room it wants to grow.
Abbreviate the Notifications. I know I've just been griping about how the Noise Grid view is too abbreviated, but Notifications is a little too verbose. Since I've already seen the posts, I've got an idea of what they're about, and mostly just need a mnemonic. (And Noise has just the reverse issue -- this is "Noise", it's new posts, and it's stuff I'm not familiar with, so too short is too little context.) If there's new activity, I'll find it. The mnemonic should identify the post (and its author), briefly summarize the activity, and let me pull it up. The G+ pane "tiles" are a bit too small, but somewhere between present Ello and that might be better. Because here's where Ello's magic turns up:
The fact that when I click on "post" the post opens up in the main Ello pane space. This is fucking awesome. On G+ I'm working in this tiny little Notifications pane and it's always in danger of getting all a-blowed up'n'stuff. Ello says "hey, you want to muck with this post? Here's the post. Lots of space. Have at it." In terms of workflow and screen real-estate management and state preservation (e.g., not eating a post in mid work), this is a really nice UI design. I suspect it just kinda happened, but it's really, really good.
A big part of what makes this work is that Ello's client footprint is small enough (160 MB vs. 1-2 GB per Chrome thread for G+ tabs) that I can simply pop open another tab for Notifications. G+ has the nominal benefit that I can view Notifications and whatever Stream I'm in at the same time, but it's a very expensive economy given the bloated client (much of which is, I suspect, Notifications, with its whole "browser-within-a-browser" notion via iframes).
The part that's still missing -- more involvement and engagement. Part of that is Ello's small social graph and limited Notifications (the former will grow, the latter will benefit by Subscriptions). But in terms of keeping up with activity, the basic mechanics of the UI are actually quite slick. Make going conversations stickier, and bring more people into the Elloverse (note that this need not be "onto Ello", if Ello allows for interaction syndication across social networks), and we'll get the involvement/engagement.
More tweaks: G+ allows navigating up/down by post with j/k keyboard combos (it's a vi / vim keyset). I miss that. Small touch but it'd be nice.
And yes, there's the option of doing everything in the Notifications div (particularly if I've toggled shift+1), in which case expanding each item's full activity might be useful. Ponder that.
But there's the start of a great feature here. I might even suggest the G+ folks look at what you're doing
Gallery of screenshots
This shows how the G+ pane compares with Ello. G+ allows more to be done in the Pane, but it's risky and bloated.
Ello shots show a more-or-less stock Notifications pane, and a reimagined view with a more tile-like appearance for each entry, and more vertical space for the Notifications area in total. The idea is to open them in the main right-side viewing area, which is more or less the workflow I adopt. I may make this my standard CSS -- the good news is that I can make these changes myself.