jibbajabba's blog

UPA 2001, Las Vegas NV: Program now available

Program and registration for the Usability Professional Association's 2001 conference are now available.

Microsoft engineers get help from real people

Usability in the popular press again. A writer for the Dallas News observes Usability testing for Microsoft's MSN in this article.

Argus white paper: Analyzing analysts Web sites

Argus Associates posted a report analyzing the Information Architectures of 6 of the top business analyst's Web sites. "As a whole, we were disappointed in the sophistication of the information architecture of the analyst sites. Considering that large corporations look to these companies for leading-edge e-business strategy, we expected them to understand the importance of a strong information architecture strategy and set the example towards which other companies look for guidance." (p.4)

Writers Unite: Stand Up to Jakob

Nick Usborne is sick of Jakob Nielsen. In Writers Unite: Stand Up to Usability Experts", he takes issue with Nielsen's Usability guidelines for writing copy.

How not to make your site accessible

IBM Developer takes a humorous look at how you can make your site inaccessible. In this article, I explore ways in which a designer, flush with the newfound power of authoring tools with capital letters in the middle of their names, can keep the heathens at bay, and ensure that only the chosen view his work.

NIH Usability Checklist

Government Computer News discusses the National Institutes of Health usability/accessibility checklist. "Make it big, bold and simple" is their mantra; the NIH constituency is a fast growing Web audience of people 60 and older. The NIH has an enormous library of NIH internal documents, presentations, etc. on usability available at their site.

Ecommerce and Usability quickie

Developer had this short article suggesting that Internet shopping is a process and the most important thing to offer in the ecommerce experience is the guidance and information that you provide to help the shopper feel confident enough to buy. To design a site for buyers, you must understand that a purchase decision is a process and not a single action. ... [W]e've simplified the purchase process to three basic approaches: browsing, evaluating, and transacting.

Corel Xara X

If use Corel Xara for vector graphics, Corel has just release Xara X for Windows.

Interface Usability in Flash

[from elegant hack] Flash has been a bone of contention for a lot of usability folks in recent years. Merien Q. Kunst wrote an article on interface usability in Flash for iboost that offers some very practical usability pointers (gleaned from the Quintus Flash Index, which she hosts) and points out some common errors.

Usability glossary

[from antenna] Usability First has a browsable and searchable Glossary of Usability terms.

P2P offers new paradigms and challenges for the way we do business

The Standard is running an article on peer to peer technologies that are making their way into the corporate collaboration and knowledge sharing space. With the announcement of new business P2P applications available by companies like Groove Networks, more IT people are looking to ways to make the P2P mode of collaboration a natural part of business workflows. Is this targetted, just in time mode of communication and collaboration the better mousetrap that replaces corporate America's intranet portals?

IA tools for Mac OS?

[from drewspace] Andrew Hinton pointed this one out on his blog. Apple has this article about Mac OS applications for Information Architecture work. I can't wait, personally, for OSX versions of Illustrator and Photoshop to become available, and it's really a shame that Visio isn't available at all for the Mac. Sigh. I liked how they expressed the role of the IA, by the way -- "working with the client to identify problems and opportunities and then articulating the best solutions." Very high-level, but appropriate.

Wireless devices: The 1994 interface of the future

Douglas Rushkoff's Second sight in the Guardian is talking about the speed and simplicity of animation and ad banner free WAP user interfaces. Take a look, for instance, at the NYTimes WAP page. In the article he says "We merely have a very clear recollection of how much better early web interfaces served the needs of students, researchers and anyone looking for some information." Hmm. True probably to some degree -- for some sites. But remember how hard it could be to find stuff using interfaces like Gopher? The usability of simple browsing interfaces that provide access to large collections depends on access points and recognizability. Rushkoff has a point though. I love reading news using RSS/RDF headlines that I grab everyday rather than going to the sites themselves.

A collection of login screens

[from webword] Ovo Studios has a page with a collection of login/register screens for some popular sites -- in case you need to make a comparison for best (or worst) practices.

Boo! And the 100 Other Dumbest Moments in e-Business

[from Mersault*Thinking] This was too funny to pass up. Funny thing is, on a project I worked on (in 1999, I think), the designer kept telling me how the user experience of boo was so innovative and wonderful. At the time I was taken by the cleaner, simpler design of sites like born magazine in its pre-flash period.

The McDonalds/Amazon effect: Familiarity breeds temptation

The NYTimes has an article about the forthcoming Babies R Us redesign. Toys/Babies R Us has partnered with Amazon.com and the ecommerce offering of the R Us stores will be rolled under Amazon. The article talks about familiarity and the McDonalds effect. "The reason you go into a McDonald's when you are in a foreign country ... is you know what you are going to get, and you know how the french fries are going to taste. The reason you like a store to look like Amazon is because then you know how to navigate it comfortably." I see the point that familiarity makes for a comfortable and maybe more tempting shopping experience. But following this argument, is the best design direction for ecommerce interfaces to start with tabs and grow their product offering until the tab metaphor no longer supports the information architecture well? Personally, I think the current Amazon navigation experience has gone down the drain since they expanded beyond the available horizontal space afforded by tabs as they moved to become the Walmart of the Web. Sure, the "Store Directory" and "Browse menu" afford access to the many new categories of products on Amazon, but I personally wonder, when I think about the growth of their product inventory, how they will continue to make it easy to shop without feeling overwhelmed by the navigation. The article ends with a final and telling comment from the shopper they interviewed about her shopping experience with the new Babies R Us/Amazon site, "... it still took me twice as long to shop. Next time I'm going back to my regular store." But she may be the exception. I'm sure Amazon might say that she spent more time because she lingered and surfed Amazon while shopping -- and that kind of behavior leads to add-on sales.

XP stands for eXPerience?

NYTimes had this intriguing article about Microsoft's forthcoming upgrade, Windows XP -- the XP is supposed to stand for eXPerience. Look at this precious and telling comment: Microsoft ... says that the best way to get a computer with Windows XP may be to buy one with it already installed — instead of trying to install the new system over an older version. What? That does sound like the M$ eXPerience I'm used to -- eXPect very little consideration in terms of ease of use, pay lots of money, and have no choice in the matter. It's funny. I had no problems upgrading my Mac from OS9 to OSX, which I was thoroughly impressed by. And Microsoft tells users that the easiest route will be to just by a new PC with the OS preinstalled. Yuck!

What people search for

I found this informative and fun. Search Engine Watch has an index of pages on search engines that show current or frequently entered search terms.

Bad designs

Came across baddesigns.com, a Human Factors site that shows example of badly designed every day objects.

HFWeb 2001 Universal Access: More People. More Situations.

The free HF conference is coming Monday, June 4, 2001 to Madison Wisconsin. Click "Read more" below for full press release. PROGRAM ANNOUNCED, REGISTRATION OPENED FOR HUMAN FACTORS CONFERENCE Web accessibility, CRM, mobile interface design highlighted by industry leaders MADISON, WI (April 17, 2001) - Optavia Corporation today announced the program for the 7th Conference on Human Factors and the Web (HFWeb) and tutorials on June 4-6, 2001 in Madison, Wisconsin. Free online conference registration was also announced, available at the conference web site, http://www.optavia.com/hfweb. Optavia Corporation is hosting this year’s HFWeb conference, which is a major annual event for human factors professionals - engineers, developers, and designers - to share and promote ideas and resources towards a more useful and usable web. Previous HFWeb hosts include Microsoft Corporation, IBM and SBC Technology Resources, AT&T, and US West Communications. The theme of this year’s event, “Universal Access: More People, More Situations,” highlights increasingly critical issues of accessibility and usable design. Leaders in a number of industries, including human factors, wireless Internet technology, user-centered design, and accessibility, will give presentations and tutorials. Specific topics include mobile interface design, prototyping and evaluation techniques, accessible web design, and customer relationship management. A complete listing of the conference program and tutorial topics is available at the conference web site. The conference will be held June 4 at the Monona Terrace Convention Center, and is free to registered attendees. The tutorials will be held June 5-6, also at the Monona Terrace. Details of the tutorial fees are available at the conference web site. An early registration discount applies to tutorial registrations received prior to May 2. For questions about the conference or tutorials, visit the conference web site, http://www.optavia.com/hfweb, or contact the conference coordinator, Kary Lehman, at 608-260-9000. Optavia Corporation (http://www.optavia.com) designs the usable interface that connects you with your customers. Optavia’s user-centered techniques illuminate your customers’ needs, behaviors, and expectations, taking the guesswork out of interface design. Optavia’s training, research, and flexible consulting products guide your team in creating effective, usable technology built with the customer in mind. Optavia’s accessibility services open your organization to more people, in more situations. Bringing together the needs of your business and your customers, Optavia makes technology usable.

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