jibbajabba's blog

Interaction Design Institute Newsletter

I wasn't familiar with the Inetraction Design Institute in Italy, an interaction design graduate program and research laboratory in Ivrea, Italy. Apparently they are celebrating their first year. There is a bit of news and announcements in the Interaction Design January 2002 Newsletter.


Describing links more clearly

A shortie showing how link copy can be written to help people suss out scent -- i.e. to make more clear the path they will want to take. Also see the list of downloadable papers in PDF format available on user.com.

thanks EH

Field Studies Done Right: Fast and Observational

Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox.

    Field studies should emphasize the observation of real user behavior.
    Simple field studies are fast and easy to conduct, and do not require a posse of anthropologists: All members of a design team should go on customer visits.
Indirection in News Stories

This is a good article about writing copy for clarity in No Train No Gain, a training/education site for journalists.

    Newspaper writers and editors like to pack as much information into a sentence as possible. But packing extraneous information into a sentence, just to achieve a knowing tone, reduces clarity and can drive readers away. How to spot problem sentences and what to do about them.

thanks xblog


pictoplasma claims itself to be the first exhibition of character design. It boasts a collection of over 3300 character designs from 359 artists (as of today) worldwide.

This is some really cool stuff. From my days studying art history, I always loved iconography and symbols. My transformation into an information science professional and later into a web designer brought new respect for icon design and avatar character design. Go look and enjoy. Requires Flash plugin.

thanks xblog

Techniques & Tools for Using Color In Computer Interface Design

In ACM Crossroads, Peggy Wright, Diane Mosser-Wooley, and Bruce Wooley talk about effective use of color in GUI's.

    Contemporary computers predominantly employ graphical user interfaces (GUIs) and color is a major component of the GUI. Every man-machine interface is composed of two major parts: the man and the machine. Color interfaces are no different in that they are also based on two parts, the Human Visual System (HVS) and a color display system. A theoretical examination of these two components establishes a foundation for developing practical guidelines for color interfaces. This paper will briefly examine theoretical aspects of both components and established techniques and tools for the effective use of color for software interface design.

thanks LucDesk

Nine Rules for Good Technology

"If a technology is to become widespread, it is crucial that it be easy to use—so easy that it need not be packaged with an operating manual." So says Stephen Downes, who talks about what makes good (read: easy to use) technology in Michigan University's Technology Source. Here are his 9 rules for good technology:

  1. Good technology is always available
  2. Good technology is always on
  3. Good technology is always connected
  4. Good technology is standardized
  5. Good technology is simple
  6. Good technology does not require parts
  7. Good technology is personalized
  8. Good technology is modular
  9. Good technology does what you want it to do

thanks LucDesk

The Power of Smart Design

In Business Week, an interview with Dennis Boyle of IDEO discussing why it is that IDEO industrial design is so successful.

    Dennis Boyle, senior design engineer at IDEO. His mission: To make high-tech simple. "People don't want to read a manual. They don't want something confusing that makes them look dumb," he says. "What regular people want is a product that does a few things really well."

thanks Tomalak's Realm

'Google effect' reduces need for many domains

Dan Gilmor in SiliconValley.com talks about what he terms the the Google effect.

    With the rise of search tools that unerringly bring you to the page you want, the need for a highly specific domain name -- one that a casual Web user would be able to guess -- has practically disappeared.
Domain extension usability

Lou discusses the new domain extensions, does some big hypothetical calculating and surmises that we're in for some trouble.

    The cost of not finding information is immeasurable.

    And I'll bet dollars to donuts that the folks responsible for the top-level domains did not hire the services of an information architecture, librarian, or usability engineer to help design and test the scheme.

[I'm going to start indenting quotes because someone suggested that I had a lot of typos and bad grammer in my blogs. I had fun drafting an email back saying that any italicized text is a quote and not my writing. Perhaps I should start [sic]ing typos? I don't think so.]

I also like how he refers to the use of domain extensions as a form of classification. I guess I've thought of that on a very basic level before (.com is supposed to refer to commercial sites, .gov to government and .edu to educational sites.) But we all know that .com is used by anyone for anyone, ditto .org -- so he's right in saying that it is a kludgey solution.

Már Ôrlygsson's design presentations

Several presentations by Már Ôrlygsson.

Taxonomies: An Eye for the Needle

In Intelligent Enterprise, an article on business taxonomies.

Knowledge workers want content management applications to impose order on document chaos. The order imposed must model the business domain they work in. They see the taxonomy of a corporate portal as the key mechanism for managing content according to domain-relevant topics. The taxonomy — a structure for categorizing text content by topic — is the piece of the content management application that knowledge workers depend on most and, therefore, the piece they use for measuring its success.

IA resources from CHIFOO

On Digital Web Magazine, Nick Finck posted a list of IA resources discussed in the CHIFOO meeting on IA. I like that name CHIFOO -- sounds like Kung Fu.

Online Taxonomies

Found a short article on a syndication site called Free Sticky that talks a little about taxonomies at a high level.

Taxonomy is the science of organisation and categorisation and this article is the first in a series that introduces the Freesticky reader to some advanced concepts for managing their content.

Taxonomies are knowledge representation tools, typically used in natural and life sciences to understand, group and classify nature, like plants and animals.

Boxy theme

Ah, the boxy theme is back. The "Simple" theme is also available if you are logged in.

That Simple theme was just so boring. Thanks, Betsy for reminding me to make the old theme available. Funny now that I think about it. The running motif on this theme are boxes and arrows. That CW article I read a year ago must have seeped into my head lie IA-osmosis as I designed this one.



Another cool type blog -- typographer.com.

The Typographer.com website provides a regularly updated news feed, series of articles, interviews and tutorials covering the type industry.

UsabilityNet web design guidelines

UsabilityNet offers a usability-focused guidelines for developing web sites. Suggestions in the guidelines are supported by the HCI/Usability literature and references are linked.

Unless a web site meets the needs of the intended users it will not meet the needs of the organisation providing the web site. Web site development should be user-centred, evaluating the evolving design against user requirements. The first step is to define the business objectives, the intended context of use and key scenarios of use. This helps prioritise design and provides a focus for evaluation. The design should take account of established guidelines for web writing style, navigation and page design. The site structure and page design should be evaluated by representative end users. Management and maintenance is important to maintain usability.

Information Architecture for the Rest of Us

On WebWord.

The purpose of this article is to explain information architecture in a very simple and clear manner. If you have been confused about information architecture and what it is all about, this is exactly the article you should read. An analogy is used to get at the core concepts and several useful examples are provided.

Font legibility

On Antenna, Nadav collects some literature to support a claim that serif vs sans was of limited use in predicting font legibility on screen.

thanks xblog

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