blogs

What is the Best Layout for Multiple-Column Web Pages?

An article in Usability News 3 (2) that studied users perceptions of multiple-column layouts -- fluid, fixed width left justified, fixed width centered -- found that fluid multi-column layouts were preferred. Their conclusions: Several observations can be made from this study. First, no significant differences between the layout conditions were detected in terms of search accuracy, time, or efficiency. However, significant subjective differences were found that favored the Fluid layout. Here, participants indicated they perceived this layout as being the best suited for reading and finding information, as well as having a layout that is most appropriate for the screen size (for both small and large screens). They also indicated that the Fluid layout looked the most professional, and consequently preferred it to the other layout conditions. Conversely, the Left-justified layout was consistently the least preferred condition. The evidence we have so far suggests that Fluid layout is superior to the other multi-column layouts, since this layout is perceived as being more navigable and was preferred to the other layouts.

Prototyping and Usability Testing with Visio

This Cognetics presentation (download in PDF format) is an overview of prototyping and techniques for working with Visio to create rapid page layouts that can be used for usability testing.

Building A Better Style Guide

Victor from noise between stations posted the link to this PDF on SIGIA. Building A Better Style Guide (PDF) written by Whitney Quesenbery for Cognetics Corporation. The paper takes a look at the structure and process of creating a style guide that gets used, and helps promote a common look and feel. Why are style guides so frequently created, but so rarely successful? All too often, businesses ask for a style guide as a means to create a common look and feel, in the belief that it will solve usability problems and establish consistency between applications Ė only to be disappointed in the results. Even if such a style guide is followed carefully, the resulting interfaces may not meet usability goals.. This paper explores strategies for creating a style guide that is more than a simplistic rules book. By making the style guide part of the process, it can be used to promote a shared vision, to help the product meet business and usability requirements for consistency andÖit may actually be used.

Jared Spool rumor

I got wind of the Jared Spool rumor in email discussions with a colleague. It seems that John at WebWord published the rumor on its site. WebWord Comment -- I just caught wind of a very interesting rumor. I heard that Jared Spool was banned from future UPA conferences because he stated that usability should be done by various people during development, not just usability professionals or usability engineers. Can someone confirm or deny this please? Turf wars. Sigh.

Tagline Blues: What's the Site About?

Usable taglines? Nielsen argues that your brand's tagline should tell people what you do and more. A website's tagline must explain what the company does and what makes it unique among competitors. Two questions can help you assess your own tagline: Would it work just as well for competitors? Would any company ever claim the opposite?

Pop-up/under ads pose a measurement puzzle

NYTimes discusses the recent statistics reported by Media Metrix indicating that x10.com is the fourth-most-visited site on the Internet. The reason so many people visit X10's Web site ó and the reason Nielsen/Net Ratings does not count much of the company's traffic ó is that X10 uses an advertising technology that opens an X10 Web page on a surfer's computer screen, whether the surfer wants it there or not. ... But several leading publishers support Nielsen/NetRatings in its contention that an advertisement is not in itself a Web site, even if it pops up in a separate window. ... "At the end of day, advertising is sold based on these sites," Ms. Young said. "It is intentionally misleading to include demographics based on advertising on a site like X10." Nielson/Net Ratings has created a series of filters so it will not count windows that contain only a single advertisement, although it concedes its approach is not foolproof.

Usability News 3 (2)

Usability News 3 (2) is now available. Read latest research results investigating:

  • online fonts
  • multi-column web page layouts
  • link locations
  • graphical image optimization
  • web vs. paper surveys
  • e-commerce usability and behavior
Yet another version 4 of Netscape Navigator released!?

According to LGF, Netscrape released yet another version of Netscape 4!

ACIA Interview with Seth Gordon

Lou Rosenfeld interviews Seth Gordon. If you attended the first Information Architecture Summit, you might remember Seth as one of the main rabble-rousers; he really got many of the librarians present all hot and bothered by his comments on how overrated information organization actually is. After time at marchFirst and ZEFER, Seth is now enjoying his new role as the ACIA's southeast Asia correspondent. He also squeezes in some user experience consulting when he can, drawing from experience working for such clients as AltaVista, Tower Records, and National Geographic. In this interview Seth has a lot of important stuff to say, especially about which information architecture metrics are good and which aren't...

One for the Jakob haters

This one is for all you haters. There are some sick people out there. Remember that arcade game Pole Position? Driving over Jakob Nielsen reminds me of that. This Flash game is another testament to the love-hate relationship with Jakob. This is an example of the hate side obviously.

Internet search engines charged with deception

Eight major Internet search engines were accused of deception Monday as a consumer group demanded that the Federal Trade Commission investigate whether they are coughing up ``ads in disguise'' in response to user queries.

ACIA's IAsk survey: Learning about and keeping up with Information Architecture

ACIA's survey results have been posted. A lot of sites to track if you haven't bookmarked them already. We hoped to learn about what information resources and events members of the field used to learn about and keep up with information architecture. We asked: "How do you keep up with the field? And what sources of information are most important? The results of this survey will help paint a picture of which resources information architects use to learn and keep informed about their field."

Webzine NYC 2001

I won't be going (plans), but if you're a publisher of independent content and are in the NYC area this weekend, you might want to swing by CB's Gallery (aka 313) for Webzine New York City 2001. Thanks for the pointer, Dave.

Indian handheld to tackle digital divide

I think this must be one of the most forward-looking and socially-conscious efforts I've read about in recent years. A group of Indian scientists and engineers has developed a handheld computer to help the poor and illiterate join the information age. Using the simple computer, or Simputer, and software that reads webpages aloud in native Indian languages, the team hopes to help the 35% of Indians who cannot read find out about aid projects targeted at them.

Cramming more data onto television screens

An article in Wired reports that more cable channels are cramming more data onto screens making them appear more like your PC than your television. The volume of on-screen information will increase in the next two months when new versions of CNN Headline News and ESPNews are launched as part of the transformation of TV viewing in the computer age. Network logos, small and relatively discreet, were in the vanguard of on-screen data. Now, broadcast networks and cable and satellite channels are cramming more and more onto valuable screen real estate. Personally, I don't think cramming more data on the screen always means you are communicating effectively. Multi-tasking sometimes means not focussing on one thing. The problem I've always had with screens with scrolling tickers is that I keep missing the thing I was looking for (like the weather ticker they show on my morning news show) because I get distracted by the talking heads. Then I have to wait again for the weather to scroll by. I think it can work with well some applications, but perhaps to a limit. The screens of business news channels are very complex, but at least with stock tickers, symbols are in alphanumeric order. thanks Tomalak's Realm

Microsoft throws Java out of Windows XP

How inconvenient. According to InfoWorld, Microsoft is removing Sun's Java Virtual Machine in Window's XP and subsequent Windows releases due to an out of court settlement with Sun. Critics argue that Microsoft's decision to pull the JVM from the operating system points to an attempt by the Redmond, Wash.-based software maker to lure Java developers to its own language C# (C-sharp), a key component in the company's .NET initiative. "We don't see any reason for it from a computing standpoint," said Andrew Shikiar, director of POSSIE.org, a grassroots group supported by Javacentric software companies and developers. "They might see Java as competitive to their .NET strategy." ... The first time XP users try to view a Web site or use an application that requires a JVM, they will get a prompt to download Microsoft's JVM from its Web site, he said. At that point, they can choose to skip that download and choose another JVM instead.

Paper prototyping supply list

I found Carolyn Snyder's paper prototyping supply list on Webword. Includes links to purchase stuff. Here are links for locating some common paper prototyping supplies on Staples.com and OfficeDepot.com. I am providing these links as a convenience - other items may be equally suitable.

Design and project management

From UIweb.com - Itís true that design specifications are difficult to write, and that good ideas are fleeting and rare, but until the design is in itís final form, itís far from finished. Much can happen between the moment the designer finishes the expression of the idea, and when the development team has finished building it. (Someone wanted to re-surface this one -m)

Richard Saul Wurman's Understanding

Christina asks in her "gleanings" if you've seen this one yet. I hadn't. Richard Saul Wurman's Understanding.

XML feed