jibbajabba's blog

Web design patterns

Martijn van Welie has put together a very nice site illustrating patterns of user interface elements used on Web sites in order to establish a Pattern Language. He indicates in many cases the problem addressed by a pattern and explains how it solves the problem. There are also examples of the pattern in use. Good stuff. Also seems to be collected in his article "Designing your site's navigation" (Download PDF). Sites listing interface design patterns resources:

The Short-term Benefits of a Usability Strategy

Frontend Usability Infocentre discusses the benefits of a usability strategy. The typical software sales process could almost have been designed to favour those products that present a clear, intuitive, attractive and easy-to-use interface to the user.

Universal Usability

You can find definitions, resources, research, publications and a discussion list on the topic of Universal Usability on this site created by the Universal Usability Fellows as part of the Conference on Universal Usability.

Dimensions of Culture and Global Web Design

This white paper introduces dimensions of culture and and how they might affect user-interface design (View report in HTML format or download PDF from Aaron Marcus and Associates). thanks international-usability

The Usability Industry

In this Clickz article on the Usability industry, Michael Roberts of MarketFace discusses why one Jakob Nielsen session doesn't make an industry, and suggests that Usability engineers need to be embedded in the process of design rather than just being post-release consultants.

Where should you put your links?

I'm surfacing some interesting research from Usability News 3 (2) today. An article reporting findings in a study of link location found that links embedded in the text of a page was preferred over top-left, bottom and in left-hand margins corresponding with content in right columns. Their conclusions: Participants indicated that they believed that embedding the links within a document made it easier to navigate, more easily recognize key information, promoted comprehension, and was easier to follow the main idea of the passages while searching for specific information. Moreover, participants significantly preferred the Embedded link arrangement to the other arrangements. Conversely, placing links at the bottom of a document was perceived as being the least navigable arrangement, and was consequently least preferred. Although no significant objective differences were found, the consistent results of the subjective perceptions of link navigability, as well as general preference, suggest that the Embedded link arrangement is perceived as being the superior format for online documents within a single frame. For this reason, it is suggested that for documents using a format similar to the type tested in this study, embedded links should be considered.

A Comparison of Popular Online Fonts: Which is Best and When?

An article in Usability News 3 (2) shows the result of a study of user perceptions of fonts on Web sites and suggests which fonts may be appropriate based on several broad categories of use. Their conclusion: In this study, the font types that were perceived as being most legible were Comic, Courier, Georgia, Times, and Verdana. The results of this study also provide information regarding the aesthetic appeal related to specific font types. For example, the ornate fonts Bradley and Corsiva were perceived as having a great deal of personality and elegance (However, one should be cautious in using these ornate fonts to any great extent because of both their low performance and low popularity among the font types studied). Furthermore, Courier and Times were perceived as being the most business-like, whereas Comic was perceived as being the most fun and youthful. Applying this information can help establish the proper mood of a particular site.

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 – 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 and…it 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 — and the reason Nielsen/Net Ratings does not count much of the company's traffic — 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."

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