Defining Feature Sets Through Prototyping

by Laura S. Quinn, in Boxes and Arrows.

    Defining requirements and features can be a daunting task under the best of circumstances. The Vision Prototype allows the user-centered vision to be seen and discussed by all team members and then easily translated into a set of functional requirements.
Introducing Interaction Design

by Bob Baxley in Boxes and Arrows.

    Well-designed interactive products allow people and technology to carry on a complex and elegant dance relying on multiple, simultaneous forms of communication. A new 12-part series will discuss the activity of interaction design as it relates to the Web, and the relative advantages and disadvantages of the Web as an interactive medium.
Internet users impatient with search results

Recent NUA Internet Survey with search statistics.

    According to a recent study from iProspect, three-quarters of Internet users use search engines. However, 16 percent of Internet users only look at the first few search results, while 32 percent will read through to the bottom of the first page. Only 23 percent of searchers go beyond the second page, and the numbers drop for every page thereafter. Only 10.3 percent of Internet users will look through the first three pages of results, while just 8.7 percent will look through more than three pages.

Not sure what I learn from using Holovaty's GetContentSize application, but it sure is interesting. The application strips out all of the non-text data in a page (tags, images, etc.) and gives the weight/value of characters devoted to viewable text (size of page divided by size of viewable text).

Bottoms Up: Designing complex, adaptive systems

In the December 2002 issue of New Architect, Peter Morville discusses how you can use bottom-up IA methods while still keeping a view of the bigger picture. In the article, Peter discusses the dangers of severing the ties to larger business or project goals when fragmenting system components in order to manage growth. He suggests how to use bottom-up methodologies to support top-down ideas.

The Definition of Information Architecture

Peter discusses why there is a need for the Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture.

    If nothing else, AIfIA presents an opportunity for us to join forces and speak out. We must focus our message. We must carefully select our target audiences. And then we must speak loudly and clearly.

    But we hope to go much further than that. If we listen carefully to people's reactions, if we involve outsiders in the discussion, if we make connections to other communities and disciplines, then we can learn how to improve the practice of information architecture.

I wholeheartedly agree with what Peter has to say and am not surprised by the amount of feedback along the lines of "what the hell is IA?". In my mind, there is a great need to evangelize the value that IA brings to businesses. I see business decision makers -- the people who pay for IA -- as a very important target for this organization. For a lot of people out there, there is a great need to establish the IA meme in the heads of the people holding the purse strings in corporations. If we can collectively educate these kinds of people, we may help to sustain and develop the growing body of IA knowledge.

IA has not garnered the attention of the business world as Usability has. We have not had a provocative figure head that instill fear in business decision makers that if you don't consider IA, you will lose money -- not that I think this is a good idea. We do have some provocative people out there, but they haven't had as long a history as Jakob and haven't been as prolific in the mainstream business/management rags. This is where we have to make some great inroads. We generally tend not to be as loud individually (unless your name is Zia) so the collective voice of the AIfIA will hopefully help to get our message out there better.

One Source taxonomy for company information

One Source has announced that they've started offering for sale their offering their Global Business Taxonomy, a business information classification system. I've used the One Source Business Browser in the past and have been impressed with how they index company information and present company profiles. If you've ever compared Factiva's (nee Dow Jones Interactive) company profiles to One Source you'll know what I mean.

14 Principles of Polite Apps

Matt Webb pointed to this Spring 2000 article in DevX by Alan Cooper, an excerpt from the Inmates book.

Software should respond to your obvious needs, not just your commands. Use these 14 principles to create accommodating software.

Sites that Don't Click

37 Signals research brief (2MB PDF).

[W]e reviewed the home pages of 10 prominent retailers and found that all of them displayed product images that were either non-clickable or were clickable but did not lead to a page where the featured product could be bought.

The Infrastructures of Digital Design

The Infrastructures of Digital Design: Thinking/Building/Living
University of California, San Diego
Friday, January 31st Ė Sunday, February 2nd, 2003

Conceptual Metaphor Home Page

MeFi pointed to George Lakoff's Conceptual Metaphor Home Page, which is mentioned on Matt Webb's Interconnected and Adam Greenfield's v-2 Here's what Matt had to say:

Superb. This is proper deep-level stuff, how we live and relate to the universe and each other. Playing with how a counterfactual metaphor could come to be would be an interesting exercise. Although at the moment I'm more interested in coherency, the idea that disparate metaphors align. You can see this in our industrial world, individuals living their lives coherent with the concept that they're a self-contained step, that they should follow the letter of their explicit instructions and let everything else go because someone higher up must be looking after that.

Taxonomy & Content Classification

Mike Lee points to and discusses the Delphi white paper, "Taxonomy & Content Classification" 1.3mb PDF, which is apparently licensed to every vendor mentioned in the paper -- my office mate Dave (the taxonomy guy) has seen three differently branded versions of the paper. It's apparently a good summary of why you should employ a taxonomy in your CMS. Mike says, "sheds some light on the misconceptions on the definition of a taxonomy, describes the benefits of systematic content classifcation, and surveys the currently available technology tools". They apparently also give some kind of seminar, "Proving Ground for Taxonomy & Information Architecture", but when I looked at the

Macromedia CMS

Web Graphics pointed to Macromedia Contribute, Macromedia's new entry in the Content Management space. The application that provides publishing and workflow, templating, versioning, security and permissioning capabilities. Some basic application of keyword metatags is allowed, but there's no mention of support for taxonomies. Windows only for now, but OS X version coming.

OWL Guide 1.0

Web Ontology Language (OWL) Guide Version 1.0, W3C Working Draft 4 November 2002.

Patterns For Personal Websites and Design of Sites book

A few design pattern resources gleaned from WebWord. The first is a site by Mark L. Irons that collects patterns for creating personal Web sites. The second is the book, "The Design of Sites: Patterns, principles and processes for crafting a customer-centered web experience", by D. Van Duyne, J. Landay and J. Hong, which utilizes design patterns in order to recommend principles and best practices.

Spanking Jakob

John S. Rhodes reviews Jakob's latest Alertbox, Intranet Usability: The Trillion-Dollar Question", where he says, "The average mid-sized company could gain $5 million per year in employee productivity by improving its intranet design to the top quartile level of a cross-company intranet usability study. The return on investment? One thousand percent or more.". The Alertbox shows some good recommendations based on usability tests done by NN/g. Rhodes is taking issue with his ROI figures, which make the claim that usability results in millions in savings per year. Rhodes says, "Jakob Nielsen is selling us a dream," that usability is the magic pill to cure all intranet ills.

INUSE 6.2: Handbook of user-centred design

From the Nectar Project: This handbook on user-centred design is intended for those responsible for commissioning or carrying out usability work during the development of interactive systems. It consists of 5 chapters which are summarised below.

  1. A user-centred approach to design and assessment
  2. Introduction to usability methods
  3. Individual method descriptions
  4. Selecting an appropriate method
  5. Standards and guidelines in user-centred design
Thanks, Column Two: KM/CM blog

Top reasons ease of use doesn't happen†on engineering projects

Scott Berkun gives us his top 14 reasons and some possible solutions.

    In reviewing all the email I've received at this website, and the experiences I've had teaching and consulting, Iíve tried to catalog the different reasons why projects didnít result in easy to use designs. Below Iíve compiled the top ten reasons into a short list, with some brief suggestions on how to approach fixing the problem.
When Good Interfaces Go Crufty

Making a note to read Matthew Thomas' blog entry,
When Good Interfaces Go Crufty.

Thanks, InfoDesign (Peter J. Bogaards)

What's Info Got to Do With It?

David Weinberg is wondering what information has to do with the web. His essay in Darwin says,

    The information that shows up on the Web is part of the Web's world. But you could never get to the world of the Web if you started only with information.
In short, I guess he's saying that it has everything and nothing to do with the web. He ponders the definition of information and offers some answers. Not sure I agree with his contention that you don't get information when you view search results. Even when you are viewing meta-information in a pointer (e.g. search result descriptions, abstracts of articles) you are still using information in my opinion. I think of the roots of the term inform, which means to me, "revealing the shape within". Surrogates that stand in for an object are information for me because they they reveal something of the nature of the thing I am interested in. For example, if I look at a picture of a painting in a text book, or a description of a painting in an index, I may be sufficiently informed or some information need I had may be fulfilled by just viewing that surrogate without having to come close to the real object. By this definition, almost every bit of data with some context becomes information for me.

What I do begin to agree with is the notion that the Internet does not only have to do with information. There is experience. He says at one point that "it's more about connection than the transfer of facts," and that it's about doing things using different kinds of media. I think he's on the mark there.

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