38 Comments

Updates coming to Profile and Dashboard

If you follow our newsletter and blog, you know we talk a lot about the geocaching community. There’s a reason for that. We’re different than other games. There is no game without the geocaching community.

To build a foundation to better support geocaching friendships on Geocaching.com, we are going to release updates to the Profile and Dashboard (aka: the /my page) early next week. Those changes are going to be released alongside the current Profile and Dashboard pages and you can opt in to give them a try next week.

The update will allow us to add a newsfeed to your Dashboard, that keeps you informed about what your friends are up to.

What will change?

With the first release we will simplify each page by removing duplicate and obsolete links, and update the user interface to become more intuitive.

Why do we have to change the Profile and Dashboard pages?

There are two reasons why we have to change the Profile and Dashboard before implementing more functionality: usability and technical limitations.

When the Dashboard page was created nearly 16 years ago, we didn’t have designers lending their expertise on how to best organize the page. That created a conundrum when we released new features. Instead of devising an intuitive grouping of themed features, we just added them where we found space and the page eventually became the “junk drawer” of Geocaching.com.

Among the main issues with the page’s arbitrary organization was that there was no visual hierarchy to let people know what information is most important to view or where they should look first. This means that most geocachers navigate the page by memorization or using Control-F on their keyboard – which results in a poor user experience. When we took a holistic look at the page through data and watched how geocachers were using it, we found that the duplication of links both within the Dashboard and between the Dashboard and Profile page were confusing and a lot of links weren’t used. We decided to improve the experience by removing unused links and creating themed areas. We also moved the links that we saw were being used most often to the top of the page for easier access.

Our primary code base is ancient when it comes to technological standards and a lot of us at Geocaching HQ refer to it as “spaghetti code” – meaning when you touch one piece of it, it will most likely break about eight other things. We have wanted to add feature improvements to areas of Geocaching.com for years, but our legacy code limitations have always held us back. Therefore it becomes necessary to create new pages in order to add new, scalable functionality to the site.

Why are we changing the default display?

We learned through data that only 2.4% of active geocachers have anything entered in their custom profile information tab. It makes for an inconsistent experience when most people land on an empty page. The ‘geocaches’ tab is relevant to everyone who plays the game. We could add an “empty state” (a bit of information that tells you what you are missing out on and how to add content, if you currently have none) on the page for those who don’t have any content. But all of that code is part of our legacy (aka: spaghetti) code base and we run the risk of breaking the custom content for the people who do have it on their profile. So we end up playing the balance game to keep the content available, but shift location or build something that is relevant to everyone and risk breaking it. We’ll look at community feedback and use of the page after this release to help us determine next steps.


The updated Profile and Dashboard will be available for you to play with coming next week. You can opt in while we’re tweaking the new page and working to make frequent edits based on your feedback. Or you can stick with the existing Profile and Dashboard for now.

Annika
When I'm outside I'm happy. Besides geocaching I love gardening, hiking, cooking and spending time with my wonderful two and four legged friends. Got eight legs? Sorry, but please stay far away from me!
  • Cindy McMullin

    About Send email: Most of Virtuals I have done, have been done by COs who prefer email. They are often COs we are not caching much anymore but still verify answers on their Virtuals. So how do we send an email to them when it is no longer on the profile ? I doubt they will update their pages to put their emails on them or want to publish their email address. It was nicely hidden on the profile as a way to do this.

  • Ronald Cain

    Agree, as I use it too. Not sure about all these changes and if they will improve it. Seems like all changes are for worse not better. Still don’t like my phone app after using long enough. One I paid for was fine.

  • Mathieu Pulfer

    First, thanks for trying and doing some new features into our hobby.
    Secondly … Two points that I found non sense:
    -1- No more mails … ok, but before doing that, please make the “message center stable”
    Nearly 2 or 3 days a week, it bugs and does’nt allow us to check it … Same for norifications
    -2- Are you sure that creating a “actuality panel” is what geocachers want ?? We come tot his site for geocaching not for having a second facebook …
    Thanks

  • Pavel Pilát

    MC is unreliable and slow so far. You better keep the direct e-mail functionality…

  • To the web team
    This is awesome that you are working on the site. Streamlining that will streamline our caching experience. Great changes.
    To a few people
    • They have interests too, such as lightening server load
    • Recent activity will be about your geocaching friends activity, not a pic of what I ate for lunch. I don’t share a lot of caching activity on social media
    • Any programmers out there? You bet this will help with future streamlining/functionality!
    • —> Just give feedback and I’m sure they’ll seriously consider, because the community is what drives caching; no cachers, no caches

  • Erik_Los

    I wanna play with it right now!! 😉

  • Thathanka

    Like the changes a lot. One missing thing on the dashboard is list of last logs to own caches.

  • monsterbox

    1. I would leave the email opt. I personally like to answer EC and virtual questions per email as this easily allows me to store these on my PC.

    2. “My” profile default still should be the custom profile info and I guess I know mostly people out of the 2.4%. It at least should be adjustable by the cacher which page they prefer as THEIR main page!

    3. Dashboard: In the new one I don’t see that much that I would like or need. I mainly used the recent logs and the new version is missing info there like the location. I also don’t really get why I shoudl see the logs of other accounts in there? I don’t want to stalk the others but just simply see my own logs. It also looks like the new style wastes quite more space.

    4. Profile: Order seems to be wrong to me. I would put LISTS as 2nd.

    5. Showing DNFs: I would bet that showing the DNF numbers will lead to WAY lower DNF logs 😉 Quite some people already don’t log a DNF as they don’t want to “proof” they are too stupid to find the cache. If you now show the numbers it will be even worse then. Showing it to ME is perfectly fine but showing them on the public profile doesn’t seem to work nicely for me. I wouldn’t mind but I bet others will!

  • brian_lang

    How will this impact those of us who post our own stats? Obviously they’re not going to show on the first tab anymore… Anything else? Will we be able to set which tab shows first on our public profile?
    I generate mine via the BadgeGen and FindStatGen plugins in GSAK (Geocaching Swiss Army Knife for those that don’t know) and then paste them into the Bio field on my Profile Information page.

  • Frances Drake

    The Message Centre only works some of the time. Mostly when I have added a photo, it acts up, I have hit send then it fades, stalls and then the message simply disappears and is not sent.

  • I could see your points except in 3 about wasting space. What I see is a consolidation of features and use of space. Look at the two dashboard screenshots. The current page has all that blank space down the middle, but the new page on the right shows a use of that space with recent activity. I see it gets its own setting button, so a guess is we can change the view to certain people or to show nothing. Interesting to see where that goes though

  • MrT

    Like the changes. Keep up the good work

  • Tim Thomas

    If you use the message center now it will forward the message to your email on file. They shouldn’t have to change at all.

  • Sheridan Davis

    What will happen to our past messages that are currently stored. I have all sorts of little hints from CO’s and answers to EC and virtuals. I don’t want to lose the info – should I start going through and cutting and pasting this info into the cache notes section?

  • nct

    I think that will go to the “About” tab.

  • Vitor Sérgio

    and again I think that would be perfect to have MY CACHES NEEDING MAINTENANCE under Geocaches section

  • nct

    Regarding your #1: I agree. One of my fave things about email was that I could have a copy of my email message sent to my email. With the MC, there is no way to have the message I send out emailed to me.

    Regarding your #5: It would be interesting to see if DNF logs decrease after this change, but really – this is something that has been requested several times. In the past, there was a way for cachers to ‘hack’ their profiles to display a DNF count. They had to update the number manually. That ability was removed 1-2 years ago when the ability to ‘hack’ the profile tab was removed and the requests to show DNF’s on the profile started up again.

  • nct

    Huh? The message center isn’t going away.

  • Annika

    That is correct, the stats will still be displayed under the ‘About’ tab.

  • Stejenwell

    I would appreciate that if we don’t want to be geo-stalked we have an option to have only stats show publicly, not step by step of what caches we found during the day. It’s a little unnerving to know someone sits at their computer and can follow your moves and could show up at the next cache (this has happened) I’ve always thought this was a little dangerous especially for our lady cachers.

  • Gregory Linton

    My only suggestion is, please don’t screw this up. The mobile app is horrible and I ditched it for Cachly, I can’t ditch the main geocaching site, I’d cry if that turned out as horrible as the app.

  • Gregory Linton

    Just noticed that benchmarks are gone, did they forget them? Or are they quietly phasing them out?

  • CD

    I have two problems with the email thing… 1) even if you can forward the messages to email, the full conversation won’t be there because your own messages won’t be there and

    2) cachers who are no longer that active on the website won’t respond to messages because the “forward to email” function isn’t active by default. I have contacted numerous “retired” cachers through email and this feature seems like a backwards thing to ditch. In my opinion Groundspeak should be making steps to help make clearer the responsibilities of cache finders and owners (tutorials in-app, etc.) instead of these kind of pointless changes.

    And if anyone from Groundspeak has read this, please just respond to say you have. It seems like our feedback just goes into the void usually.

  • CD

    I agree. The message center is quite buggy, and honestly fixing this page doesn’t seem like a change we need right now. How about fixing the message center, or adding features to the bare-bones app, or implementing Wherigo?

  • PSouth13

    Please keep email functionality. It keeps important conversations separate from a continuing conversation in a way that the message center doesn’t. Other than that, I would like to see more effort put into Wherigo functionality, but that’s neither here nor there.

  • Heisenberg

    Absolute agree with #5. I know a lot of
    Cachers wo dont post an DNF because they think its an negative statistic for them. And with this update it will be, Show them just on Personal pages not on Public. Because otherwise the Cache owners will get a lot less respond if a Cache May need maintenance.

  • Pavel Pilát

    It would fit there – maybe “Hides in need of maintenance (2)” or “Hides in troubles (2)”? Many ignore e-mails and need something different to alert them to problematic hides.

  • Jim Dancho

    Like so many of the changes the pass several years that ground speak has made, I am not happy with this one either. Please allow the email function to continue. I do not like the “send message” function, and find it doesn’t serve my purposes on many occasions. I avoid initiating it and only reluctantly use it when another geocacher has contacted me via that method. My cell phone receives emails, so what’s the problem with email?
    I’m also confused about the new tracking of friends concept. It seems I will loose privacy over this and will therefore have to unfriend some of my friends in order to maintain my privacy.
    There are other changes made over the years by groundspeak that have been a negative in my opinion. Here are two: If there is a way to search for a cache by name under the new system, I haven’t figured it out. So, I can no longer search for a geocache by name. I can no longer right click on a map at a trail or road junction to get the coordinates for that junction, making it more difficult to plan a route in back country.
    Can either of these functions be re-instated?
    BTW, what is dashboard??? Maybe I’m using it, but didn’t know the terminology. I have no problem with the current profile page — mine or public profiles of other.

  • Emmi Laakso

    Hey Stejenwell! In this release, the geocache and trackable log history on your public profile will stay the same as before. The dashboard, however, will give you the option to hide your logs from your friends’ activity feeds, if you’d rather not share. The activity feed is only ever shared between players you have added as friends.

  • Jayme Hewitt

    Hi CD,

    Thanks for sharing your concerns. We really appreciate that you took the time to explain the exact problems and issues you were having with the Message Center. After hearing about how many people use email differently than the Message Center we have decided to include the email option, as it currently exists, in the new Profile for now. You will see everything there when we release on Tuesday. For those who do like the Message Center but wish it had a few more features, we will be jumping in do some more work on it soon.

    Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

    Jayme

  • nathalain

    Will there be the list of owner “need maintenance” caches on the dashboard?

  • Mark Johnson

    I disagree, at least re profile and dashboard pages. As someone who works in application development, there are number of user experience issues here that I’ve previously wanted to see rebuilt. Just being okay with it now that you are used to it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be scrapped and redesigned.

  • Ian Parsons

    Then here’s hoping the ‘About’ tab will be the default view when other players pull up our profiles.

  • Karen Elizabeth Brooks

    Why on earth have you changed the D/T rating to a T/D rating? We are all very used to the difficulty rating rating coming first, yet now in the list view (of recently viewed in your example) puts the terrain before the difficulty. This is a complete nonsense and can only confuse people. I am lost for words at how idiotic it is to change that.

  • Erik_Los

    wohoo! Almost there 🙂

  • DeepPurple

    Indeed, sharing experience and statistics in the profile is part of the game. Hiding it in a barely visible “about” tab is really a poor idea.

  • CareforBend

    Yes I would agree, it would be nice if it was more prominent.

  • keko

    Me gustaba mucho más la antigua interfaz, sobre todo la nueva pagina de perfil le dan más importancia la la foto de usuario que ocupa media pagina y quitan la información para ponerla en una pestaña a parte, lo bueno es que te muestra lo cachés pero para nada útil.