jibbajabba's blog

Internet Poses No Challenge To TV In Wake Of Attacks

Survey reported in BizReport shows that Americans gravitated to TV rather than Internet last week. During the terrorism crisis last week, probably the biggest single news story in more than a generation, the Internet did not pan out as a primary source of information, according to a new survey. ... Instead, a Pew Internet and American Life survey indicates, it was television that most Americans gravitated to while coming to grips with the terrorist strikes that destroyed the World Trade Center, severely damaged the Pentagon, Va., and appeared to unsuccessfully target the White House.

The myth of optimal web design

Perfection in design is not possible. No matter how much is known about a given business, user group or technology, you can not simultaneously satisfy all possible objectives. Interesting essay.

Putting taxonomies to work

This InformationWorld Review article (requires free registration) summarizes what the TFPL found in interviews of businesses conducted to discover how they were using business taxonomies. Taxonomies for Business: access and connectivity in a wired world was the title of a conference organised by TFPL to launch the results of an international research project into how large corporations are using – and are intending to use – taxonomies. The research, jointly funded by BrightStation software company, Smartlogik, was conducted in the summer of 2000 and presents six in-depth case studies which resulted from visits and in-depth interviews, along with 16 telephone- interview ‘caselets’. You can view more information about TFPL's work with taxonomies on their site.

Usability for Libraries

This review, appeared in the September American Libraries p. 86. Do your Web users utilize your site successfully, or do they get frustrated and look elsewhere for help? If you can't answer that question, it's time to conduct a usability assessment. Editor Nicole Campbell will show you how in "Usability Assessment of Library-Related Web Sites: Methods and Case Studies". Together with her cadre of contributors, Campbell explains usability methods and includes eight case studies of libraries that have conducted such studies. With bibliography, 125 p., paperback, Library and Information Technology Association Guide No. 7, $25, $23 for LITA members (8-8389-8157-7). Order from ALA Book Fulfillment, 155 Wacker Dr., Chicago, IL 60606.

Taking A Content Inventory

This is where the rubber hits the road for me. In October's WebTechniques, Janice Crotty Fraser takes you through the process of doing content inventory Adaptive Path style, with IA techniques developed with Jesse James Garret. This is the jumping off point for a lot of information organization and taxonomy work -- the content inventory. It is the area where I've spent most of my time over the past year. There is truth in her observation that the work comes down to human hours and excel. A great read for people who want to learn how to use tools to make content inventories work for you and your clients. Here's how Crotty Fraser sums up: You need to know what you have to work with before you can organize it better. The inventory, above all else, helps you get to know the content deeply; this is as important to a re-architecture as understanding user goals and business goals. Make associations across groupings, identify redundancies, and slice it along a different grain.

Effective Info Architecture

In WebTechniques, Andrew Chak discusses IA process in this entry-level article. The site has grown too big, too fast, and they hired you to fix it. So where do you start? There are techniques and people who can help you become a better information architect. You're about to learn the techniques; your users are the people who can help you. Through techniques such as personas, card sorting, and pen and paper testing you stay close to your users and should have a good idea of how to design for them.

Ask Jeeves to Acquire Teoma Technologies

Ask Jeeves, Inc., a provider of natural language question-answering and search technologies, has announced that it has acquired the privately held Teoma Technologies, Inc., a provider of next-generation Web search technologies. The company claims that the acquisition will enable Ask Jeeves to deliver one of the most advanced search technologies on the Web.

usabilitynet -- European usability support org

UsabilityNet is providing usability information and resources as a service to all those interested in usability, with support from the European Union. The objective of Usabilitynet is to promote usability, user-centred design and process improvement in Europe and also further a field.

Accenture's Visual Navigation

I came across Accenture's Visual Navigation system which proposes an interesting metaphor for the online shopping experience. Accenture Technology Labs team is creating new metaphors for online shopping; Accenture's "Visual Navigation" research project, which is based on images rather than words.

What to show on a search page?

Catching up on CHIWEB mail, I saw this summary of resources suggesting what to show on a search page.

A Universal Language for IT: UML

Monster.com entry-level article on UML by Allan Hoffman. The success of a software project is often dependent on the quality of the planning -- the modeling -- devoted to it. Imagine if you were a builder, not of software but of skyscrapers. You would work with blueprints, drawn up with language and notations understood by everyone from plumbers to electricians. That's how UML works. In the case of complex software systems, modeling improves communication, cuts development time and enables easier maintenance.

Starting again

It's hard to imagine going forward from here amid the roar of jet fighters overhead and the sirens in the streets. The mourning will go on for a long time. I am going to continue my personal thoughts on what is happening in my personal log. I am going to slowly start reading and logging IA news again. Hopefully soon. I must work. You can continue to donate to:

This has been a horrible, horrible time. There are no words for the lives lost.

ACIA interview with Peter Bogaards, Razorfish Amsterdam

ACIA talks with Peter Bogaards, who does the always fresh ID/IA blog, InfoDesign. Must be nice to work in Amsterdam -- I'd love to work there! thanks nbs

InformationWeek.com redesign

InformationWeek announced the redesign of their site.

In the Beginning was the Command Line, By Neal Stephenson

This book was found floating in the SIG-IA ether. Full text available on the Web. Can also download in compressed formats.

Staples.com: Yeah, it's usable

Article about Staples.com's committment to usability in PC Magazine. From the moment the online version of the $11 billion office supplies retailer was conceived, the company's senior management decided that committing financial and staff resources was necessary to make its site completely accessible and easy to use. Initially, Staples worked with two consultancies in the field to create, design, and test its site: Human Factors International and Sapient. But within six months of launching, Staples had assembled its own five-person usability staff led by Colin Hynes, an engineer who had been working on Internet visitor interface issues since 1992.

Site design as a business decision

An article in PC Magazine talks about how usability affects user interaction and business patronage. When someone is diagnosed with cancer, that person and all the people around her are desperate for information. They want the facts quickly—especially details about the specific cancer, the prognosis, the courses of treatment, the clinical research, and so on. The trauma they've just been handed is mind-boggling. It shouldn't be compounded by the frustration of a Web site that's supposed to help but is instead difficult to use. ... "Building sites around the way users work, whether that is looking for information on cancer research or buying a CD, as opposed to around a company or organization's view, is unfortunately not the norm," says Eric Schaffer, president of Human Factors International. Designing a site according to how people will use it may sound like a common-sense strategy, but it turns out to be extremely unusual—not only for a government agency but for all Web sites.

Enterprise Portal Server review

If you have access to Forrester, this report might be of interest. To improve the way employees use applications and data, firms must develop portals that simplify and unify countless user interfaces. Enterprise portal servers help companies build sites that all employees will use.

Microsoft Research at work on interface for Web services

Looking to adapt the GUI to the Internet and the forthcoming generation of Web services and distributed applications, Microsoft Research is at work on a more natural interface, said Kai-Fu Lee, of Microsoft's research team, here at Future Forum on Thursday. ... Lee, playing on the well-known acronym GUI, said he is trying to coin this next generation of interfaces the NUI (Natural User Interface), which he pronounced Nooeey, like GUI with an "n." The basic idea is to make computing devices more like a living, breathing personal assistant.

Follow Directions. Then Scream.

In the NYTimes, Matt Richtel surveys user's manuals through the ages.

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