jibbajabba's blog

guuui.com: The interaction designer's coffee break

guuui.com is new to me. The site, started by Henrik Olsen in Denmark, offers daily postings and quarterly articles about interaction design.

Thanks, webgraphics

Netscape re-heats browser wars

According to InfoWorld, Netscape is hoping to get back some market share with Netscape 7. The Preview Release is out with the nice Mozilla features has offered (tabbed browsing for instance, which Opera has done for a while) and a few new features like a "higlight-click-search" tool and built in net radio. We'll see if they have what it takes to take back share at this point.

OT (Music): Mashups

Way off topic because I am doing code this week (I'm not a pure IA I guess) and needed new music to drive me. Dave turned me on to mashups. DJ's have been doing this kinda shtuff for years using analog and digital methods. Mashups are sort of like cadavre exquis for music. Take 3 tracks. Blend and overlay them with a tool like Sonic Foundry Acid (PC only) and rip an MP3.

There's a bunch to grab at base58 to get you started.

Web Users Crave Familiarity

Nick Usborne, in MarketingProfs, says "as much as we may hate to accept it, originality is usually the enemy of a smooth customer experience."

    The sad truth is, general Web users would love it if all our sites looked like Amazon.com. They'd immediately be familiar with the interface, they would know how to find what they wanted, and they'd find it a breeze to check out and complete the purchase.
He's talking specifically about customer familiarity with the language you use and with the interface you present on your web site. He thinks that moving your navigation to the right or using non-standard labels for objects like the home page link might cost your users some time and frustration. He says, "I don't have figures to prove my point, but my guess is that conversion rates drop off whenever you give a reader reason to pause." Figures would help make the argument convincing.

The economics and ABCs of indexes

Abstract of Montague Institute article on using Alphanumeric indexes of terms and cross references. Full text available to members only.

By giving users a familiar, browsable structure of terms and cross references, the A - Z index eliminates a major frustration of full text search engines -- the inability to formulate an effective query. More than just a finding tool, the index is an intellectual product in its own right, capable of shedding new light on a subject. The value of an index varies with the time value of the user, the number of users, and the frequency of use. The cost is modest compared to the total cost of a professional book. The economics of indexes are harder to calculate on a corporate intranet because the benefits to specific users are harder to pin down. From a quality control and cost/benefit point of view, it's easier to index departmental collections and then integrate them into a corporate taxonomy

Internet navigators think small

Internet navigators think small: Researchers study how communities change the Web. MSNBC.com article says Small-world online communities reflect the structure of the wider Web -- but they change the way people use the Internet, researchers say.

    Scientists who have mapped out the structure of the World Wide Web are focusing increasingly on the smaller picture: how it is that online villages coalesce. Such research can help you hook up more easily with the information and people youíre looking for ó but they could also help marketers and politicians figure out more easily where youíre coming from.
Google Labs

In this economy, it's amazing that Google can experiment with technology so much. I love the Google Labs, where they showcase ideas that aren't ready for prime time. Most of their ideas are quite good. The glossary example, for instance, is quite nice. A search for "information architecture" brings up a few of our IA definitions and a few of the systems architecture definitions. Google Sets is also quite interesting. It creates sets of items based on a few sample sets you give it. I'm still trying to figure out what it is doing exactly, but it seems like some kind of cluster analysis using proximity of terms.

Tablet PCs

Tablet PCs are hitting the news again. Small form factor tablets will have 2 to 3 times the battery life of a laptop and cost you around $1,000. Microsoft tells eweek their new OS, Windows XP Tablet Edition, might arrive next year, and new company OQO is already promoting their hardware.

OQO's Ultrapersonal Computer is a new device with a small form factor between the size of a PDA and a subnotebook (think e-book size). The tablet is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, but has a decent sized screen and a full OS. OQO is run by ex Apple folks.

Ontology research and development. Part I - A review of ontology

This article will interest some people, but is not available online.

Journal: Journal of Information Science, v28n2, 2002, p123-136
Author: Ding, Ying; Foo, Schubert

Ontology is an important emerging discipline that has the huge potential to improve information organization, management and understanding. It has a crucial role to play in enabling content-based access, interoperability, communications, and providing qualitatively new levels of services on the next wave of web transformation in the form of the semantic Web. The issues pertaining to ontology generation, mapping and maintenance are critical key areas that need to be understood and addressed. This survey is presented in two parts. The first part reviews the state-of-the-art techniques and work done on semi-automatic and automatic ontology generation, as well as the problems facing such research. A second complementary survey is dedicated to ontology mapping and ontology evolving.

B&A: From Flatland to Hyperspace; Content Filters

Moving from Flatland to Hyperspace: The "Evolution of a Mindset", by Meg Cole
My entree into the web world--Spaceland, or "Hyperspace"--was not a smooth one; in fact, it was downright mind-bending. My personal journey from designing and writing for print media to becoming an information architect for websites conjures up images of Flatland, written by Edwin A. Abbott, an English clergyman, educator, and Shakespearean scholar (1884).

Exploring Content Filters, by Clifton Evans
What if there was a new way of navigating an online information space we've all seen before but just never thought to use? I'm talking about subtracting away information the user doesn't want. Content filtering is a much more natural way of sorting through categories, especially when the majority of your content is under more than one subject.

5k contest

The 5k contest has announced its call for entries. Check the site and Caterina's black and white design.

37signals mock redesign of FedEx

The team at 37signals offers their design alternative to FedExís confusing, online Ship Manager with 37BetterFedEx. An article in Communication Arts' Design Interact discusses the redesign with Scott Upton of 37signals.

Thanks, Thomas

First Monday: Building Digital Communities

This month's issue of First Monday (Volume 7, Number 5 - May 6th 2002) presents papers from the Third Annual Conference on Libraries and Museums in the Digital World, 20-22 March 2002, Baltimore.


I started helping with the BlogChat beta. In the navigation at the left, if you see a green diamond, that means I am online and you can click the diamond to chat with me/ask questions related to iaslash/say hello. I used HumanClick a year ago, and it worked pretty well, but Brent and Tim are doing this as an open PHP/MySQL thing, so I thought I'd help test for them.

Maybe I should market this as iaslash Answers! to copy Yahoo! and Google? I can offer advice and give you your horrorscope.

User-Experience Design and the Next Levels of the Web

Matt Jones is moderating a session at the O'Reilly Emerging Technologies Conference on May 14 in Santa Clara, CA next week. Check him out if you happen to be there. He sure gets around, doesn't he?

    Web services, The Semantic Web, P2P, WiFi - the emerging technologies being discussed at this conference are being examined primarily within a business and technology context.
BBCi Search

The About.com article, "BBC Joins the Search Engine Fray, Users Win", reviews the redesigned BBCi Search, which Matt presented at the Summit.

Frog and IDEO redesigns

Adam at v-2 points to the redesigns of Frog and IDEO sites. Frog's interface looks touchable as ever with an intuitive top-located navigation design, strong colors and a nicely balanced layout. IDEO's is sporting a more light/spare design with a nice placement of global/breadcrumb/secondary navigation. Nice. I like Frog's redesign a lot.

Usable, Useful, Desirable

On noise between stations, Victor ponders Liz Sanders' phrase Usable, Useful, Desirable and the different ratios of usability, usefulness, and desirability that might apply to different project artifacts, depending on project team expectations. It's an interesting idea, because measurement of these qualities depends largely on the purpose and utility of the artifact. His coffee maker analogy is precious. Illustrates that measurement/assessment of qualities of the object is tied to the user and their intentions/desires.

The Pendulum Returns, Part 2

Part 2 of peterme's essay on decentralizing organizations to unify their online presences talks about characteristics that make the unification possible.

Those Adaptive Path guys really seem to love multi-part essays. The suspense of it all.

B&A: Why Iím not calling myself an Information Architect anymore

David Heller makes an argument for keeping IA separated from interaction design and user experience design, suggesting that IA should be an arrow in the interaction design quiver. It's been compelling to me to think of LIS-ey type IA work as the stuff that is unique to what we do. Our typical information organization related tasks would be the stuff in the HCI venn diagram of roles and tasks that does not intersect with other roles/tasks I think, because such things as task analysis and usability have been done by other disciplines for a long time without IA. One thing that I think would be valuable would be for IA to be permanently ensconced and valued in the HCI tent as part of that sphere of knowledge. Maybe it already is making such inroads? I don't know. I haven't kept up with the CHI list for a while.

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