jibbajabba's blog

Yale Style Manual

I was reminded of the Yale Style Manual today when Googling for sites on graphic design using grids. I happened onto this image showing their grid for the graphic-safe area (600px x 350px). This site and the book were favorites of mine (along with the Polar Bear book) when I started doing intranet design. I think it's still quite relevant. And this year, they released a 2nd Edition.

AIGA Experience Design case study archive

AIGA ED has released their first ED case study archive. The first five were presented at CHI2002 / AIGA Experience Design FORUM on April 21-22, 2002.

  • Transforming the content management process at ibm.com
  • Data Visualization for Strategic Decision Making
  • Making Joining Easy: Case of an Entertainment Club Website
  • Climb Meru: An Integrated Brand Experience
  • SHS Orcas: The first integrated information system for long-term healthcare facility management
Applescripting OmniGraffle to produce site diagrams

James Spahr (Designweenie) is experimenting with some site visualizations by using Applescript to grab data from web server logs and automatically diagram that data in OmniGraffle. He's got to blogs where he talks about it here (includes pdfs of diagrams and applescript) and here (first examples). It's pretty interesting as a proof of concept piece. Time for me to learn Applescript I guess.

IA documents, research and process diagram

I like Peter Van Dijk's diagram on his blog titled Research, deliverables, process and the team (updated by Dan Wendling). In it, Peter diagrams how IA research and deliverables relate to the development cycle and the team members involved in the process. It's shows how elements of a development process relate organically to one another, where the dependencies are, and who is involved as the project moves from top to bottom in space/time. And he avoids the venn diagram doing it.

Google Answers (beta)

"Live Researchers answer your questions on any topic for a fee." Seems you can pay someone to find answers for you using Google. I don't know. Are they stretching themselves a little thin now with this service? From their FAQ:

    Google's search engine is a great way to find information online. But sometimes even experienced users need help finding exactly the answer they want to a question. Google Answers is a way to get that help from Researchers with expertise in online searching. When you post a question to Google Answers, you specify how much you're willing to pay for an answer and how quickly you need that information. A Researcher will search for the answer and send you the information you're seeking, as well as useful links to web pages on the topic. If you're satisfied with that answer, you pay the amount you specified. Your question will also be published on the Google Answers website so registered users can add their insights and share in the benefit of the research.
Search usability research

Ursula Schulz's search usability bibliography (annotations in German).

kaliber 10000

k10k is back online after a long vacation.

Mozzila 1

Mozilla 1.0 Release Candidate 1 has been released.

Adaptive Path interview of Marc Rettig

Adaptive Path talks with Marc Rettig, former Chief Experience Officer at Hanna Hodge.

    Marc is one of the leading thinkers in the field of user experience design. He was among the first to apply behavioral research techniques to web design projects. These days he's teaching at Carnegie Mellon University. In this interview, Mark explains how research has evolved for experience designers and describes in detail how research led to very different solutions for two very similar intranet projects.

Thanks, Brad Lauster

Better ROI using Flash built-in components

In "Better User Interface - Better ROI?" InternetWorld talks about using Macromedia Flash MX's built-in components to cut development time and team size. Page elements such as scroll boxes, which had to be produced by hand in Flash 5- are now drag-drop components in MX. For Macromedia, the message is that Flash is not just about animation anymore. It's about speed, accessibilty, and supporting business goals.

The scourge of Arial

This article by Mark Simonson on the omnipresence of Arial was interesting to me as someone without much formal training in graphic design. Explains why Arial, a Helvetica copycat based on Grotesque, is everywhere. Basically, Arial was created to serve Post Script clone printers that didn't support the Type 1 font Helvetica. Fastward to Windows 3.1 and the Apple. Apple chose the superior Helvetica, Microsoft chose the cheaper Arial, probably figuring that people wouldn't know the difference. And with that, Arial won desktop share.

Thanks, LucDesk

Inspiration Software

I'm starting to play with Inspiration, an application that allows you to create site maps from hierarchical lists. Seems pretty decent so far. They have versions for Windows and Mac OS 9. They plan to do an OS X version in the future, according to customer support, but no dates have been discussed. I'd be interested in hearing pros and cons on this product. I'm thinking of doing a review when I'm done demoing.

Bella Haas Weinberg Thesaurus Design Seminar

Just attended Bella Haas Weinberg's annual Thesaurus Design Seminar in New York yesterday. Dr. Weinberg was the chair of z39.19 (Guidelines for the Construction, Format, and Management of Monolingual Thesauri). I recommend it highly to anyone interested in the topic. The seminar comes once a year in the spring and is usually announced to ASIST members.

Am starting to go through Weinberg's bibliography and will likely list the articles I read with some short commentary. Was interesting to note (to me anyway) that Weinberg says that the term taxonomy is simply used today to mean "classification", and is often used synonymously with thesaurus. She also mentions that the difference between subject heading lists and thesauri are subtle and that this was a debate that went on at length during the development of z39.19. She indicated that one of the main functional differences between thesauri and subject heading lists is that thesauri are used for post-coordination and SH lists for pre-coordination, and that pre-coordination is essential for print environments.

Was a good seminar. I came away with a better understanding of thesaurus design, and I now have a better feeling that an understanding of the guidelines for thesaurus design is needed so you can credibly flex the rules to suit your implementation.

John Weir interview

James interviews John Weir, designer/site developer for the International Herald Tribune site.

    The International Herald Tribune debuted several months ago with a little fanfare in the web design community, though it is one of the most innovative approaches yet for a traditional newspaper's online presence. Combining DHTML and content management to in essence create a news application for the web.

John Weir's personal home page is located at smokinggun.com

Website usability for children

Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox for April 14.

    Our usability study of kids found that they are as easily stumped by confusing websites as adults. Unlike adults, however, kids tend to view ads as content, and click accordingly. They also like colorful designs, but demand simple text and navigation.

    See also Newsweek's coverage of the study.

Ledger Shade Excel add-in

The Ledger Shade add-in by Aaron Blood allows you to format a range or entire sheet with alternating row colors. Define your own row height and spacing. Use conditional formatting or fixed background colors. Even lets you ignore hidden rows.

Download here.

Interesting use of index terms in news site

InfoWorld has begun tagging/linking each term used in indexing their stories. Clicking on one of the terms spawns a window with other stories indexed by that term. Nice.

See for example this story. All of the linked terms -- Windows, operating system, software development, programming -- are index terms apparently.

This is only interesting in that I haven't seen popular news sites expose their indexing much. Of course, only terms that appear in the text are linked at InfoWorld. Other terms or concepts that don't appear in the text that can be used to represent what the story is about are not shown/linked anywhere.

DHTML navigation experiment

Glish pointed to bodytag, which has some cool DHTML and Java experiments including this one called nodenav which features some mysterious boxes that reveal navigation as you mouse over them. The boxes remain mysterious because only one label is revealed at a time as you reveal more boxes in the hierarchical structure, but the effect is cool.

Business Benefits of Accessible Web Design

A draft of business benefits that may result from using web accessiblity guidelines proposed by the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative.

    This document is one of several resources created to assist the preparation of a business case for the implementation of Web accessibility. It describes the many business, technical and other benefits to the organization above and beyond the straightforward benefits to people with disabilities that can be realized by applying the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 1.0) to Web sites.
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