Blast Radius Critique (later rebranded as XMetaL Reviewer) was an AJAX-based web application for teams to collaboratively review XML documents. I designed the user experience for all product features in the inital version, including a real-time notification system: As with Google Docs, which came a few years later, users could simultaneously add comments to the same document. If multiple reviewers had a document open in their own browsers, we needed a graceful way for each reviewer to be alerted in real-time if comments were made by another person.
We didn’t want to disturb reading by having the document shift or refresh automatically. Nor did we want to have reviewers miss the fact that others had commented.
I designed a subtle, contextual alert consisting of an envelope that appears in the margin at the location of the other reviewer’s comment, in real-time. The user can mouse over the icon to view information about the comment, and click the icon to make the full comment appear within the body of the document.