jibbajabba's blog

OCLC Usability

Was surfing OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) following a library list message and thought it was interesting they have a section devoted to describing their Usability process to customers. Would be interesting to see if other information services offer information about how they approach Usability. Haven't seen that from other content aggregators like Dow Jones Interactive, Dialog, etc. I don't even know if Dialog knows what Usability is, judging from the complexity of their search interfaces.

New Apple portable

Apple rolled out it's new iBook, which is aimed at recapturing the education market, but should also appeal to the less power hungry consumer laptop market. Borrowing the brushed metal Titanium G4 powerbook, the G3 iBook starts at ,299 and sports the same elegant industrial design of the Titanium. Sweetness.

New German IA site

[spotted by Evhead via Mersault*Thinking] InfoArchitektur is a new German IA weblog.

3D software and ecommerce applications

InternetWorld takes a look at the wide array of current 3D software offerings being used for ecommerce applications including VR for retail products.

Site Usability Must Enter ROI Calculus

InternetWeek considers the value of Usability, especially with respect to "time to task" aspects. Usability has spawned an army of experts and increasingly draws our undivided attention as companies wrap the Web around every process and point of contact, both inside the organization and out. While it can be hard to measure site usability in dollar terms, usability can and should be measured.

Is Usability Really Worth Anything?

Jakob Nielsen considers the correlation between usability and profitability in this article on InternetWorld. According to Nielsen, because users will shop on a usable site rather than an unusable one, he suggests that the usable sites can charge a little more. He says, "...ultimately, success on the Internet comes from serving users; that's what people will pay for." That's nice, Jakob. Don't give them any ideas.

Today, More Than Ever: The Lost Chapter of The Inmates Are Running the Asylum

Alan Cooper has released an unpublished chapter from his book The Inmates Are Running the Asylum, in which he discusses how the replacement of nearly every business process with computer-intermediaries has changed the way we interact with businesses. The following quotes show how Cooper makes the case for Interaction Design/Information Architecture as a necessary part of re-humanizing these interactions.

The great promise of the information age is that computers help us to do everything. The great tragedy of the information age is that computers obstruct everything we do.

Interaction Design is the process that gives businesses the help they need to bring human values and scale back into business communications. Approaching the design problem from a human point-of-view, rather than from a technical one, softens the behavior of software, reducing the rudeness, complexity and inappropriate actions of software. ... Today, more than ever, Interaction Design is vital to the success of modern business.

Scents and sensibility

The Economist is running an interesting article about the scent of information on the Web as Ed Chi and Stuart Card of Xerox PARC sense it. The article talks about a program called "Bloodhound", that anticipates user paths based on the similarity of documents. To find out about the original "scent" paper, see the Web Visualization project at Xerox Parc.

EULER evaluation: a study in search engine usability

Students of Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Department of Library and Information Studies have published their usability studies for search engines documentation.

Japanese Products Map the Mobile Road Ahead

Nielsen takes a loot at some "highly usable" gadgets that are currently hot in Japan -- DoCoMo phones like the P503i imode phone and small digital photography gadgets like the Camessepetit and Eggy. Most interesting for IA's may be the concept of 2-dimensional movement in the P503i phone, which uses a joystick instead of a roller or scroller.

Searchers vs Browsers

There's some new work investigating search vs browse: Katz, M. A., & Byrne, M. D. (2000). To search or not to search on E-commerce sites: How do users decide? Manuscript submitted for publication. Katz, M. A., & Byrne, M. D. (2000). Search versus Browse Frequency and Efficiency on E-commerce sites. Manuscript submitted for publication. Download the PDFs: http://chil.rice.edu/publications/index.html

Gesture based navigation

Slashdot announced that Opera is adding "gesture based navigation" as a standard feature. According to Hemos, You can perform a bunch of common actions with simple gestures, such as holding down the right mouse button moving left and releasing to go back, or moving up then down while holding the button to reload the current page. A list of the various implemented commands can be found on their site.

How to fail at business without really trying

This article on kuro5hin is for all the freelancers and people out on their own. If you are struggling, take heart. You're not alone.

Visual thinking

[from xblog] Visual thinking, from the Department of Art and Design, Iowa State University, looks at the skills involved in the practice of thinking with images.

Edward Tufte site

[from elegant hack] Edward Tufte: Where to buy the books and view the schedule for the courses.

College programs and studying the social impact of the Internet

[from Tomalak's realm] MSNBC is running a story on colleges that are beginning to consider the social impact of the Internet through Internet studies programs.

sitecritique.net

[from elegant hack] http://www.sitecritique.net/: SiteCritique.net was designed to help the design community better their work, with the help of fellow designers and developers. Our goal is to evolve as a community and provide a better product to our companies and our clients!

Engineers Won't Design Next-Gen Systems

[from Tomalak's Realm] TechWeb reports that Don Norman spoke about the design of next generation systems at the Embedded Processors Forum and suggested to the Engineers in the audience that they will not be the ones to do the design. Instead, future systems will be designed "by psychologists and social scientists working in combination with engineers and technologists". Norman pointed to the success of the Palm platform to support his thesis that ease of use drives acceptance in the consumer market.

Denim: Rapid prototyping tool

[from a Usability list] Was pointed in the direction of the Denim and Silk applications developed at the Group for User Interface Research at UC Berkeley for rapid prototyping of Web user interfaces. The application supports the way IA's work in 2 key areas: site mapping and page level wireframing. It allows you to sketch the content topology, sketch wireframes for pages, and connect them within the tool. It then builds the click-through of the sketches in HTML. There is a nice realvideo video demonstrating the tool on the bottom of the page. Check it out. It looks like an excellent start.

Form design

[from SIG-IA] Carolyn Jarrett's Effortmark and Forms that work.

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