jibbajabba's blog

Community Encyclopedia

Here's an interesting project. A community site is using Wiki to create user contributed articles in a Web-based encyclopedia that is also user-edittable. Check out Wickipedia. There's an article in MIT Technology Review about this project and the implications of the user-driven intellectual anarchy that is Wikipedia.

Webmonkey Radio: Information Design

The Jeff and Drue show. Jeff and Drue Miller have a tête-à-tête about the fascinating realm of information design. thanks Christina

State of voice recognition

In Technically Speaking, Information Week discusses the current state of voice recognition software. Five years ago, it seemed that we'd all be talking to our computers by now, and could throw away those pesky keyboards. What happened? While speech recognition has become ubiquitous with call centers and voice portals, it's a long way from letting us talk to our PCs.

Web Redesign | Workflow that works

The book site for Kelly Goto's and Emily Cotler's Web Redesign book has been launched with chapter summaries and downloads (process forms and worksheets).

Can Navigational Assistance Improve Search Experience?

Mazlita Mat-Hassan and Mark Leven publish the results of a usability test that considers the incorporation of navigation aids in search services. Appears in the September issue of First Monday. Providing navigational aids to assist users in finding information in hypertext systems has been an ongoing research problem for well over a decade. Despite this, the incorporation of navigational aids into Web search tools has been slow. While search engines have become very efficient in producing high quality rankings, support for the navigational process is still far from satisfactory. To deal with this shortcoming of search tools, we have developed a site specific search and navigation engine that incorporates several recommended navigational aids into its novel user interface, based on the concept of a user trail. Herein, we report on a usability study whose aim was to ascertain whether adding semi-automated navigational aids to a search tool improves users' experience when "surfing" the Web. The results we obtained from the study revealed that users of the navigation engine performed better in solving the question set posed than users of a conventional search engine. Moreover, users of the navigation engine provided more accurate answers in less time and with less clicks. Our results indicate that adding navigational aids to search tools will enhance Web usability and take us a step further towards resolving the problem of "getting lost in hyperspace". thanks brightly colored food

Step Two Designs whitepaper on deploying search engines

A white paper discussing issues to consider when selecting a search engine application.

New White House site

Jakob Nielsen and others critique the new Whitehouse.gov in the LA Times. "I'd give it a C+," said Jakob Nielsen, a former Sun Microsystems Inc. engineer who is an expert on Web page design. Nielsen noted that the Spanish translation doesn't extend to the important navigational bars at the top of the White House Web page; they still appear in English, even though the content below is in Spanish. He also said the page's fancy cursive script "is hard to read." "I think the visually impaired will find it hard to decipher," Nielsen said.

New ACIA IAsk survey


The Cranky User: The Principle of Least Astonishment

IBM developerWorks offers some tips for meeting user expectations and avoiding unpleasant surprises. When computers are at their most usable, we don't even notice them; when they are at their least, they astonish us. Here, Peter explores the Principle of Least Astonishment, and how it can help you develop better interfaces. thanks Tomalak's Realm

Designing Web Ads Using Click-Through Data

Useit on creating usable ads for search engines. Search engine ads are one type of Web advertising that can actually work. To create the best ads, do quick experiments and redesign ads based on usability principles for online writing. Doing so helped us increase ad click-through by 55% to 310%.

Architecture design can make or break e-finance site success

By Mark Ritzmann. Global Finance, v15n6, Jun 2001, pe36. Global financial institutions invest heavily in Web sites and underlying technologies without always paying the same attention to information architecture (IA), including user interface (UI) and customer experience planning. As a result of a failure to consider these crucial design features, online channels may remain cost centers rather then evolve into profit centers. Information architecture is the practice of organizing information, such as Web site content and functionality, so as to enable users to achieve their own and he Web site's desired goals.

Sense-making in information retrieval

There is a lively discussion on SIG-IA on the topic of "meaning" as it relates to information seeking and information organization. I thought it might be relevant to post references to an article on the topic. James Kalbach's article in Internetworking (3.3), Designing for Information Foragers: A Behavioral Model for Information Seeking on the World Wide Web, discusses a behavioral model for understanding how people look for information on the Web. His article is supported by and based on many of the seminal Information Retrieval articles on the topic of information seeking behavior. If you are interested in exploring this area of IR, all of the articles listed in the references are an excellent place to start.

Usability of the academic library Web site: Implications for design

By L. McGillis and EG Toms. College and Research Libraries V62, 4, JUL, 2001, p355-367 Today's savvy library users are starting to equate the library Web site with the physical library. As they accomplish, virtually, many personal activities such as online shopping, banking, and news reading, they transfer those experiences to other activities in their lives. This increases their expectations about the functionality of a library Web site and how one interacts with it. The purpose of this study was twofold: to assess the usability of an academic library Web site and to better understand how faculty and students complete typical tasks using one. Thirty-three typical users successfully completed 75 percent of a set of typical tasks in about two minutes per task and were satisfied with the clarity and organization of the site. Despite their success in completing the tasks, however, they experienced difficulties in knowing where to start and with the site's information architecture-in particular, with interpreting the categories and their labels. The authors concluded that library Web sites fail to take into account how people approach the information problem and often reflect traditional library structures.

Informing and evaluating a metadata initiative: Usability and metadata studies in Minnesota's Foundations Project

By Eileen Quam. Government Information Quarterly V18, 3, 2001, p181-194 Minnesota's Foundations Project is a multiagency collaboration to improve access to environmental and natural resources information. The Project chose the Dublin Core metadata standard for web resources. Three studies were conducted: needs assessment, Bridges web site user interface, and usability of controlled vocabulary in Dublin Core metadata. Based on these findings and information architecture, the Project published best practice guidelines. Controlled vocabulary is important to facilitate access. This is relevant to the third study on Dublin Core metadata, which tested keyword searches of web pages to determine the effectiveness of controlled vocabulary in the Dublin Core subject tag. Central to the Best Practice Guidelines is the User Guide to Dublin Core, which offers an element-by-element understanding of the metadata schema. Current bibliographies and reports show further background work that informed the decision-making process for such important choices as metadata schema, thesaurus and thesaurus management software, search engine, and RDF/XML standards.

IE6: For consumers, may not be worth the upgrade

The conclusion that ZDNet makes about IE6 for consumers is this, "Unless you really need the privacy features, don't bother with this upgrade." For developers, this little bit of information might be of interest, however: IE 6 lagged behind both its predecessor and Netscape 6.1 in the nested table tests. Considering that nested tables make up many of today's Web page layouts, this kind of slow performance is a big no-no.

Request Predictor Speeds Web Surfing - Researcher

This article about Ernst-Georg Haffner's Request Predictor application appeared in Factiva's Newsbytes. A researcher in Germany has developed mathematical-based probability system that he says can help predict in advance which Web pages a person will seek and, therefore, cut down waiting time and speed up Web surfing. ... The system, which could be turned into a software program for Web servers, also can be used for data servers, especially internal servers at large corporations or institutions. ... Haffner's model, which has similarities to his institute's "Smart Data Server," is based on two parts. The first is probability, with his system helping to determine the probability that certain data (or Web pages) would be collected by the same user during a session, he said. "It's relative probability based on relative frequency".

n_Gen Design Machine

Whoa. EH and Antenna logged n_Gen, the algorithmic design machine from Move Design. At first I thought, "What a fun toy. But, now anyone can steal these design styles and the joke will be that the imitation will be more blatant." But I ended up spending so much time playing with it and started thinking, "Hmmm. This might be interesting if you could insert your own styles and see what the algorithms produce. Here's the scoop from the site: The n_Gen Design Machine is a rapid prototyping graphic design engine that generates savable graphic files from the user's own text content filtered through n_Gen's Design Modules. ... n_Gen is a parody of the 'rampant design thievery' and mimicry of celebrity design currently in vogue. The selection of aesthetic flavors in n_Gen is based on our observation of current popular design styles we see flooding the media. It's kind of an in-joke for designers who will recognize the work of their heroes, and we're poking fun, but our hope is that people will get the joke and see this not as plagiarism, but as a kind of homage.

Do you want to see pointers to relevant articles that are not published on the web?

I get a lot of alerts/SDI's (Selected Dissemination of Information) about articles that have been published on various subjects. I have SDI's set up on Information Architecture, HCI, and Usability topics, but have refrained from posting references to published articles that are not publicly available on the Web. Do you think it would be useful to be alerted via ia/ when relevant articles become available in these non-Web sources (mostly professional journals)? You would then have to find them in your library or using some database source like Factiva/Dow Jones or Dialog. I will make the decision based on votes to a poll.

Results of wireframe poll

As of today, the results for the short run of the poll "What tool do you use to make page wireframes / scaffolds / blueprints" shows that of 65 users who voted, Illustrator and Visio are the most popular, with each getting 22 votes (33.85%). Other votes: Freehand 4.62 % (3), Pencil and paper 7.69 % (5), Other 6.15 % (4). The rest of voters preferred a thin slate and a blunt object -- Neanderthals.

SMS entertainment architecture case study

I have just posted a case study of our interaction design work on an entertainment based SMS messaging system.

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