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Designing Information Architecture for Search and Usability of Web Search

Bloug pointed to a lengthy tutorial on Search that you can sink your teeth into. Designing Information Architecture for Search is a tutorial given at ACM's SIGIR by Marti Hearst's of UC Berkeley. Covers search interfaces (Web search vs. site search, results presentation), methodology (IA and faceted metadata), and results of Usability studies on Search. Also of interest from this Berkeley site is Examining the Usability of Web Site Search (PDF), which presents preliminary results of Usability studies done at Berkeley which suggest that use of faceted metadata can be useful for the initial stages of highly constrained search and for intermediate stages of less constrained browsing tasks. Also finds that users state an interest in using different search interface types to support different search strategies.

10 websites that work

10 sites that know how to work the Web, according to InformationWeek. Certain sites have what it takes to succeed, even in this dot-bomb environment. What helps explain their winning ways? Take a look at our sampling of E-businesses that know how to meet or even beat their business goals, and see for yourself.

Information architecture of business-to-consumer e-commerce websites

This article in the Journal of Information Science (not available online) looks at information organization of B2C catalogues for retail video sellers and assesses their usefulness from an LIS perspective. Spiteri, Louise R. "Information architecture of business-to-consumer e-commerce websites. Part I: The online catalogue of selected video retailers". Journal of Information Science, v27n4, 2001, p239-248. Recent surveys of business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce websites indicate that these sites lack well-designed online catalogues necessary to enable consumers to locate easily what they want to find. This paper examines how online vendors organize their catalogues and how this organization could affect the consumers' ability to find the information necessary to make an informed purchase. The contents of the catalogues of 50 B2C video websites were evaluated against fifteen criteria derived from the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules. Results indicate that, on average, the catalogues meet only 8.8 of the fifteen criteria and thus fail to provide consumers with sufficient information needed to make a fully informed and rational purchasing decision. The only elements of information the consumer can be assured of finding are the title and purchase price of the videos.

Tog on The Airport Experience

In AskTog, Bruce T. talks about ways to improve security on airplanes. The terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington made it clear that our current commercial airline security is inadequate. The question is how much further inconvenience must the flying public face before we are rid of the threat of further attack. Like most interface issues, it would appear at first glance that the users of the system must necessarily accept significant inconvenience. Like most interface issues, a deeper analysis shows little, if any, inconvenience is really necessary. ... The answer is to change the technology to fit the new circumstances.

Adobe has announced Extensible Metadata Platform

Found from Drop.org: XMP is RDF-based way to add metadata for binary media files. That extra information will included to files as binary packets. SDK to add and extract metadata from files will be open-source and free. Official XMP page is here.

How We Work to Make the Web Speak

Susie Christensen's article in Computers In Libraries Vol. 21, No. 9, discusses how librarians at the Webcenter at the Danish National Library for the Blind make their content accessible and offer simple suggestions for making your site accessible to the blind. In order to make Web sites accessible to most people, there are a few steps you have to take. But since many people don't even know, for instance, that a blind person can use the Internet, these simple steps are very rarely taken when Web sites are designed. Here in Denmark, we don't have any legislation to ensure that disabled people will have access to technology (like Section 508 in the U.S.). The government occasionally calls upon technology developers to think about the accessibility issues, but until recently, this has been considered a very expensive and complicated task. To alter this view on accessibility, the Danish National Library for the Blind opened the Webcenter in January 2000. At the Webcenter, our mission is to help organizations that create online information to make it all available to everyone. That is why we make an effort to teach the Webmasters, Web administrators, and other technology developers at the public libraries (and at other content providers) how to design solutions that are fancy, interesting, and accessible, all at the same time. We believe that when the competence to do so is in every public library, then the responsibility to ensure access will be there too.

Tech devices leave many befuddled

This Mercury News article says that tech manufacturers need to make usability a priority. Some experts warn that the high-tech revolution could stall unless the industry starts making products that consumers can use -- without their own in-home information-technology support team. "To take the market to its full potential, you need usability. Otherwise consumers won't buy the technology,'' says serial entrepreneur Judy Estrin, currently the CEO of Packet Design. Estrin is one of a small but growing chorus of high-tech's early pioneers who are urging technology makers to stop emphasizing complex features that many people don't use and make usability a top priority.

Graphical User Interface Gallery

HCI Index pointed to Nathan Toasty's gallery of GUI's, which shows screen shots of long forgotten GUIs like Microsoft Windows Version 1.x, The Apple II Desktop, and others like the Amiga, BeOS, Tandy Deskmate.

Why metadata is important

Gerry McGovern on metadeta. There is an ongoing reluctance among people who create content for the Web to add appropriate metadata to that content. This reluctance is leading to a situation where much of the Web is sinking in a morass of information overload. Instead of being a giant library, as hoped, increasing sections of the Web are looking like a giant dump.

Contentville.com Shutters Web Site

Brill Media Holdings LP has closed its Contentville Web site, the company's founder, Steve Brill said in a message posted on the site. Contentville was founded in July 2000 as an online seller of book and other media content, including term papers, speeches and more.

Portable PCs show where technology is headed

I have seen the future. It was hanging less than an inch in front of my right eye, and it'll be in front of your face soon. Jeff Raskin talks in Forbes about the tiny wearable display manufactured by MicroOptical and muses for a future where wearable computing gets mass market buy-in.

Deferred Hypertext - Virtues of Delayed Gratification

Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox for September 30 is now online. Navigating a full browsing session to find information can be unpleasant and slow, particularly on mobile devices. Instead, issue a deferred request and have the information arrive later, as done by some SMS systems.

The Usability of Online Content

Content carries many usability issues, argues Pete Benedict. Here is his take as published in Content Wire. Usability specialists need to learn more about content, something rather vital that ‘the field has traditionally ignored’, was a point recently being discussed in ‘usability’ circles. thanks Interaction by Design

I need a new title

Here's what I came up with at Dithered's Job title generator:

    Executive Knowledgarian of Turn-Key Value Optimization
Like it a lot. Should command respect and a higher salary. Note to self: pitch to boss.

Flash: Are You Designing For Your Eyes Only?

In Flazoom, an article about designing Flash sites for accessibility. I am convinced that Flash designers have vision that is far superior to ordinary people. Vision so powerful that 8 pixel tall bitmap typefaces on a low contrast background do not present a problem for reading. Vision so acute that Macromedia's lawyers are resorting to even finer print in contracts and licenses. Vision so sharp those fuzzy, anti-aliased typefaces are as clear as night and day. Truly we are blessed. To bad for everyone else. That includes our clients, our parents, our friends and the large majority of web surfers. When those people visit hyper-designed sites, those "really cool tiny fonts in Flash" are impossible to read. Poor legibility is another reason that Flash ranks up usability criticism from all corners.

Wireframing

In grokdotcom, John Quarto-vonTivadar on wireframing. In web-speak, a wireframe is a skeletal rendering of every click-through possibility on your site - a text-only "action," "decision" or "experience" model. Its purpose is to maintain the flow of your specific logical and business functions by identifying all the entry and exit points your users will experience on every page of your site. The goal is to ensure your needs and the needs of your visitors will be met effectively in the resulting website. You wireframe first, before a single line of code is written, a single graphic or color is chosen, or a single word of copy is composed. Wireframing is not concerned with design, navigational layout, content or even the developers' and designers' concepts of how to produce your website.

Does your intranet suck?

Scobleizer on how to know if your intranet site is sucky. A questionairre of sorts for people with corporate intranets. You may find many of the measurements to be quite... questionable. courtesy of Makovision

Nooface: In search of the post-pc interface

The blackbelted one is back and pointed to Nooface, a new interface design slash site. The goal of the site is to promote out-of-the-box thinking about truly next-generation user interfaces that are designed for new types of users and computing devices, and go beyond the WIMP (Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointing Device) method that most current interfaces are based on. Some of the topics discussed include visual user interfaces; web sensing and visualization; information appliance interfaces; user interface innovation; next-generation I/O peripherals; search interfaces; alternative web architectures; gesture input; 3D browsers; virtual worlds; game interfaces; wearable computing; data visualization; command-line interfaces; and UI development resources.

Lists of thesauri

Cataloging and classification issues abound with IAs. Here are some sites which maintain lists of commonly used thesauri/controlled vocabularies:

Alpiri hopes to win name game

While this article may not interest all IA's, it should be of interest to people working with ecommerce sites. According to RedHerring, a company named, Alpiri is using XML based technologies to connect/resolve data by name attributes in disparate systems. The company is founded by R.V. Guha, who worked on RDF for Netscape and Rob McCool who also worked for Netscape and who developed CGI and much of Apache. In essence, "we network names," says Mr. Guha. That's useful because, while XML offers ways to label broad categories, like furniture or CDs, different companies don't label items (say, an Aeron chair or the latest Wiseguys' CD) the same way. To make its system work, Alpiri has built a knowledge base of the names of musicians, actors, authors, and various consumer goods. That's a huge challenge, and Mr. Guha admits it will never cover every item available. While Alpiri hopes that large commerce sites, like Amazon.com and Walmart.com, will adopt its technology, Mr. Guha is focusing first on search engines.

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