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Most useful search sites?

Web sites can provide obscure facts. More resources for all kinds of research are available on the Web.

Computer Developers Aiming to Exterminate the Mouse

Change what's on screen just by changing your mind? That's the long-term goal. 'Touch' devices may arrive first. Controlling a computer has been largely defined over the years by the humble keyboard and mouse. Now, researchers are turning their attention to new kinds of controllers, including eye movements, voice commands and even brain waves. thanks WebWord

Card sorting

I found Information & Design today, a usability consultancy in Melbourne, Australia. In addition to providing usability services, they offer some articles and a valuable toolkit which includes suggestions for organizing your content using card sorting and a Web evaluation checklist for heuristic analysis.

Zoe Holbrooks' Digital Eve and SIGIA_L survey

An iaslash reader suggested that we post Zoe Holbrooks' informal survey of Web professionals so it has been republished here with Zoe's permission. Thanks, Zoe. Back in June 2001, I did an informal survey of Digital Eve and ASIST's SIGIA_L folks who get paid to design, develop, deploy, and maintain Web sites for companies ranging from Internet start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. I asked if they hand coded their HTML, if they used editing programs (and which ones), what they thought their personal best skills were, and what they thought were the critical basic skills people aspiring to work in our industry are. Here's a snapshot of their responses. Who they are: Professional Web designers, developers, information architects, programmers, and information retrieval (search/taxonomy) specialists. Where they're from: Most respondents worked on the U.S. West Coast from Silicon Valley to Vancouver, British Columbia. However, people from the Midwest, New York City, Europe, and the Far East also responded. How much experience they have: Forty percent (40%) have between 1 and 4 years of industry working experience. Sixty percent have 5 or more years of paid industry experience. A couple of old timers had almost 10 years of experience each, making them the Wise Elders par excellence - because, after living through the fastest-moving, most mind-bending technological evolution in the past fifty thousand years, they're still working at it and (from the sound of their responses) loving it! How many hand code their HTML: Ninety-six percent (96%). Of those who hand code, 28% do so exclusively or almost always. The rest report using various editors. Most of the 72% who reported using editors commented that knowing how to hand code HTML was critical in order to correct problems with the editor-generated markup or otherwise tweak the code "under the hood." (There's no perfect editing package - most editing programs are a blend of a few really spiffy fantastic features and a lot of standard (or worse) features. Hence the need to make tweaks and fixes in the underlying HTML ... in a plain text editor ... by hand.) What software do they build their HTML with:

  • Dreamweaver -- 49%, most of these folks use Homesite as well.
  • Homesite -- 40%
  • Text program such as Notepad, Textpad, or the UNIX editors pico, vi, or emacs -- 28%
  • FrontPage -- 21%
  • BBEdit -- 11%
  • Miscellaneous Other -- 15%
What they consider their best skills personally:
  • Development / Tech skills, including databases, coding, etc. -- 40%
  • Information architecture skills, including information design and retrieval -- 32%
  • Communication skills -- 9%
  • Project Management skills -- 9%
  • Keeping skills current / continuing education -- 6%
What do they consider the "critical basic skills" for people getting into the industry:
  • Tech skills, such as coding, databases, new technologies (XML, etc.), and basic understanding of how the hardware and software of networks and computers work together -- 62%
  • Design and information architecture skills, such as graphics design, image production and manipulation, cross-browser issues, accessibility issues, usability and user experience, search behavior and taxonomy issues -- 45%
  • Soft skills, such as communication skills, keeping current with the industry trends in social contexts -- 40%
  • Thinking skills, such as critical and analytical thinking, problem-solving, intellectual interest in the industry and its technologies, open-mindedness, ability to see others' perspectives (clients, coworkers) -- 32%
  • Management skills -- 25%
Online Flight Booking - A Comparative Analysis

Frontend Usability Infocentre takes an in-depth look at designing ticket booking systems that help customers acheive their targets - and businesses sell their product. We suggest best-practice techniques for online ticket purchasing and look at who does it right, and who does it wrong.

Web Quality of Experience (QoE) Workgroup

Culled the link to this story about the Web Quality of Experience (QoE) Workgroup from CHIWEB. QoE said it will focus on attracting new members, developing an index to measure the usability of some of the Web's most popular sites, and opening a QoE Center of Excellence to design, test and document best practices and products.

WebWord turns 3

Congratulations and thanks WebWord! We love you, man.

Password Usability

Joshua Ledwell's guest article on WebWord. Poor password usability can ruin your web registration process. While passwords are a painful fact of life, there are ways to minimize the problems that users face. This article contains suggestions on how to best collect passwords during the registration process, and it will help you determine if you should allow users to save their passwords.

Usability Engineering for the Web: Designing Web Sites that Work

Webreference has a preview of Usability Engineering for the Web: Designing Web Sites that Work by Tom Brinck, Darren Gergle, Scott Wood (to be published October 2001).

Searching for Google's Successor

According to Wired News, A new generation of scrappy search engines is emerging to challenge the dominance of mighty Google. Among those vying for a top position are WiseNut, which ranks pages based on context; Teoma, which claims better relevance through peer-site weighted algorithms; Geographically oriented search engine Lassoo; Starpond's knowledge-scoped CURE; and the meta-search engine Vivisimo spun off from Carnie Mellon.

Blog en Espaņol?

I love referrer logs. I found terremoto.net today, which logs IA stuff. Even if you can't read Spanish, you're bound to find stuff by just following their links. Or better yet, you can run it through babelfish and have fun reading the cooky translations into your tongue. Here is a tasty example: Jeffrey Zeldman has published a column in site of Adobe, where she very makes a reflection guessed right about the practical confusion between style and design , and how that splashes directly to the usabilidad of which there is there outside. Did she indeed? That splashes directly.

Optavia

Optavia is a consulting firm that works with clients to design accessible and usable projects. Logging it on iaslash because they have a newsletter as well as several white papers discussing Accessibility and Usability.

eBay.com -- interface disorganized

InternetWorld's has a Deconstructing piece on Ebay.com. This month's break down comes from Joy Busse and Terry Swack. For a company with a brilliant business concept, the popular auction site needs more attention paid to its usability details

Another bloug diagram of IA attributes

New (and huge!)version of Jess McMullin's diagram depicting Lou Rosenfeld's July 19th discussion of the skills and qualities an IA should have, where he said: I see information architecture as the intersection of three areas (imagine yet another three-circled Venn diagram):

  • users: (who they are, what their information-seeking behaviors and needs are)
  • content: (volume, formats, metadata, structure, organization) context: (business model, business value, politics, culture, resources and resource constraints)

Hey, Hey, IA!

Hey, Hey, IA! -- "a resource-hub for Information Architects".

Style vs. Design

This is a particularly true and necessary read. Zeldman on style as a fetish -- graphic design versus communication design -- and where style for style's sake might hurt commercial projects. Here's a true and salient quote: The Web used to look like a phone book. Now much of it looks like a design portfolio. In fact, it looks like the design portfolio of 20 well-known designers, whose style gets copied again and again by young designers who consider themselves disciples. Distinctions between graphic design and communications design are lost on these designers. As is the distinction between true style, which evolves from the nature of the project, and derivative pastiche, which is grafted onto many projects like a third arm. When Style is a fetish, sites confuse visitors, hurting users and the companies that paid for the sites. thanks Lawrence Lee

Web Design and Information Architecture

The paper by O'Brien and Polovina of the School of Computing, Information Systems and Mathematics South Bank University, London, UK, discusses principles that IAs should consider in the design process. Web designers as Information Architects share responsibility for creating an infrastructure which allows effective access to all users. We present some preliminary information architecture principles for accessible Web design, and reveal that there is little evidence to support the optimism that there is a near-time technical solution that will solve Web access problems for people with print disabilities. Education is needed to ensure that scarce public resources are not squandered on electronic Follies. thanks infodesign

Making the Most of Interactivity Online

If you have access to Technical Communication, this article may interest you. (By the way, there is also an piece on GUI bloopers in the current issue.) Here is the abstract for the interactivity article. Technical communicators need to create effective online interactions to help users understand the scope, purpose, and limits of their online documents. Ideally, a well-designed online document provides an integrated data environment. It functions as the interface between the user and a system, allowing for the retrieval and assimilation of information needed to perform a task.

Registration Revamp

, you can produce a leaner system without inconveniencing your engineers or frustrating your marketers. Janice Crotty Fraser of Adaptive Path shows how she did it for Netscape in September's WebTechniques.

ASIST Annual Meeting Information

Information and registration forms are available for the ASIS 2001 Annual Meeting, "Information in a Networked World: Harnessing the Flow", November 3-8, 2001 in Washington DC.

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