jibbajabba's blog

Check your pages for backward compatibility

Delorie Software's "HTML Authoring Services" let you check your Web pages for backward compatibility and see your pages through the lens of different HTML standards.

IEEE Professional Communication: Global business communication

The June issue of IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication takes an international focus. This special issue looks at some interactions of culture, communication behaviors, and multimedia technology. . I found particularly interesting in the Zahed, Van Pelt, Song article, "A conceptual framework for international Web design". Here's a partial TOC:

  • Technical innovation and global business communication: an introduction
  • A conceptual framework for international web design.
  • The local and the global: An exploration into the Finnish and English websites of a Finnish company.
  • Exploratory research on the role of national and professional cultures in a distributed learning project.
  • Non-face-to-face international business negotiation: How is national culture reflected in this medium?.
  • A recipe for mission and vision statements.
  • Successful Proposal Strategies for Small Businesses: Winning Government, Private Sector, and International Contracts.
  • Book review: Successful Proposal Strategies for Small Businesses: Winning Government, Private Sector, and International Contracts.
  • Book review: User-Centered Information Design for Improved Software Usability.
Helping Users Find Physical Locations

When we asked users to find a nearby store, office, dealership, or other outlet based on information provided at a parent company's website, users succeeded only 63% of the time. On average, the 10 sites we studied complied with less than half of our 21 usability guidelines for locator design.

Web analytics: One hot career path

The demand for Web analytics -- people who analyze how visitors navigate a Web site -- is poised to explode over the next five to 10 years.

Guardian posts feedback on Jack Schofield's indictment of Web designers

If you read Schofield's Second Sight, you will remember that he was particularly whiny about the usability of today's Web offerings. Well, seems this provoked a lot of feedback from designers, so the Guardian posted some of the commentary.

Color-blind accessible Web pages

Have been using the Vischeck Photoshop plugin to test pages for red/green color-blind accessibility. Vischeck is a way of showing you what things look like to someone who is color blind. You can use it on a single image or on a web page. You can also download programs to let you run it on your own computer.

The future of the Internet according to Nielsen

Kim Gilmour asks Nielsen about what he thinks the internet will be like in 20 years. See what other experts had to say about the future of the Internet in the August issue of Internet Magazine.

Airlines On Trial

A comparative user test of Ryanair.com and Aerlingus.com reveals major difficulties with the latter, and provides a unique insight into common user problems with online ticket purchasing. This sample user test report includes video footage, detailed test results and an overview of how the testing procedure works.

Navbars: Why Drill-Down Menus are Harmful

Kristoffer Bohmann says drill-down menus are harmful and that the ideal way to navigate a website is to point on a link and click. The menu on Cell Network, the example that Bohmann cites, is different from what most people are probably used to and probably makes interaction with the site harder at the onset. And of course, the navigation system only offers a high-level view of the site's content, and thus makes it difficult to get an idea of the corpus of available material (an overview). It was not very difficult for me to intuit that the section titles were links, but certainly the menus are not quite as obvious as the omnipresent dhtml drop down menus that appear on sites like FastCompany (easily achieved using code libraries like webreference's hiermenus). Maybe harmful, but certainly not fatal.

    Drill-down menus make interaction more difficult, destroy the user's overview, and poor wording make users give up using the site. ... User interaction is harder compared to the standard point and click-method. Getting a view of options provided by the entire site is tough. Users leave the site if they don't understand the 2-3 words in section titles.
Personally, I like innovative approaches at design and am not turned off by interfaces which ask users to learn and experiment a little bit. I guess the real question for this company is, "does the navigation drive users away?". It would be wise for this company to do log analysis pre and post this design -- assuming that this was a redesign of an earlier version. thanks LucDesk

Kill the X10 tiny wireless camera

I downloaded the free Pop-Up Stopper application for Internet Explorer (sorry, PC users only) by PanicWare, which allows you to control pop-up windows that appear as you surf. Good results so far. Be warned that if you enable this software, you may disable opening of windows from applications such as email readers (this happened with Outlook). You can set preferences to alert you when a pop-up window was attempted. You can toggle between enable/disable in the system tray.

Sapient redesign crit

blackbeltjones breaks down sapient's redesign.

    Sapient have redesigned their site. In the main it's clean, effective rebrand and refresh of their site which hadn't changed for around 2 years.
from elegant hack

IA for catalog sites

Catalog Age sells IA to the catalog industry.

    All the work you put into getting your Website up and running comes together in one place: the user interface. An attractive home page is a critical part of the user interface. But a great interface design is more than a pretty face for your site. Equally important is the information architecture: the underlying organization of content and features that determines how customers experience your site. A successful user interface immediately engages customers, shows them what you have to offer and how to find it, and guides them to the buying point quickly and easily.
Good Grips: Usability before Branding

Using examples such as the Good Grips kitchen tools, Tog explains why and how you should create a usable product before expending energy and resources branding it to death. One piece of advice that is particularly valuable:

    If you are now using the word, "branding," more than once per week, you should: * Every time you feel the word, "branding," coming on, picture in your mind a burning cow. Good Grips kitchen tools grew out of one man's desire to build a better potato peeler for his arthritic wife. It has become one of the great marketing stories of the last decade, garnering a huge market share. Software designers can take from it two lessons: Good designs for the disabled can also benefit the normally-abled, and effective product design must come before "branding."
Internet ads distract attract

A NYTimes article about the valiant efforts hopeless sigh of advertisers to get your attention.

Selling a Vision of the Future Beyond Folders

NYTimes article on David Galertner's talk at PC Expo.

    The time has come, he said, to fix a problem that has not been addressed in some 15 years: Computers are lousy at organizing our information; the antiquated system of sorting documents into folders and trying to maintain order has fallen apart. ... "We sometimes forget that the basics of information management don't change," he said. "We think and talk and listen; we read and write and look at pictures. That was the essence of information management in the 13th century, and it still is today. Computers can put us in touch with the world and, more important, with ourselves." Professor Gelernter says he is not selling his wares so much as a new vision of the future. "It would be crazy to predict that Scopeware will emerge as the winner in the changing world of information management," he told the audience. "But I will predict this: Scopeware's properties are the properties that a winning system will need, and the direction Scopeware points is the right direction."
Read more about Scopeware.

Effieciency in design

Bob Baily of Human Factors International looks at stats (using The Counter) to suggest platform/ browser/resolution/colors to design for. This is sure to meet with some disagreement from designers and usability folks alike

    ... unless there is a very good reason to do so, do not waste time designing for and conducting usability tests on: - The Macintosh, WebTV, Linux, Unix operating systems, or any Windows operating system prior to Win 95, - Any browser except recent versions of Internet Explorer and Netscape, - Monitors that have resolutions less than 640x480 or greater than 1280x1024, and - Monitors having less than 8-bit color. ... As designers, we must learn to systematically give up trying to accommodate users who insist on using many of the little used and older technologies. The resources used to deal with these technologies can be much better used in creating solutions for newer devices, such as personal digital assistants (PDAs), cell phones, etc. Our design time is finite and limited, and we cannot design for all possible users! Good designers make good decisions about what not to do.
No doubt, the relevance of the stats on The Counter depends on your particular audience. In my work environment (which has a large R component) Sun, Linux, Mac, Opera, Early Netscapes and Lynx are all used and we are required to make data accessible to all users. It is possible, however, to make your data accessible to the lowest common denominator without sacrificing the user experience.

How to become an interaction designer

Robert Reimann, Director of Design R&D at Cooper Interactive suggests how to become an interaction designer (in terms of academic training and professional skills).

    We get a lot of email from students and usability professionals asking how one goes about becoming an interaction designer, and what background one needs to get into the field. What are good interaction design programs? What real-world skills and experience are required? What, exactly, do interaction designers do on a day-to-day basis?
I found these comments interesting towards the end.
    * Designers seldom code * Usability research is tremendously important, but it isn't design.
I guess I'm not an interaction designer in this sense. I definitely love coding perl and php. In small organizations, this does happen. Maybe I'm a hack IA/interaction-designer-cum site developer?

Web designers seem more interested in showing off

Here's one from the Guardian on usability that's filled with vitriol.Do web designers hate users? Or are most of them simply incompetent? Either way, there is no doubt about the mismatch between what users want and what the vast majority of commercial web sites provide.

Google image search

from Antenna Sure enough, Google now rocks even more with image searching.

AIGA airport symbols

from antenna This system of 50 symbol signs was designed for use at the crossroads of modern life: in airports and other transportation hubs and at large international events. Produced through a collaboration between the AIGA and the U.S. Department of Transportation, they are an example of how public-minded designers can address a universal communication need. Available for free in EPS and GIF format from the AIGA site.

XML feed