jibbajabba's blog

The power of personalization

In an age of cookie-cutter sites, Web content personalization is the new competitive weapon. So says Enterprise Systems Journal, citing Jupiter research. (Requires free subscription)

It's called personalization, and it's being incorporated into a range of Web technologies, from Web application servers to content management systems. Web site personalization efforts already demonstrate clear benefits where few other technologies can. According to Jupiter Communications, e-commerce Web sites using personalization technology have seen annual revenue increases of up to 52 percent. Such increases can help justify the average price tag of $50,000 to $3 million for Web personalization systems.

ArsDigita CMS white paper

"Collaboration and Flexibility: Critical for Efficient Content Management" is an ArsDigita whitepaper discussing issues to consider when choosing a a content management system. Note: ArsDigita sells a CMS.

Content management today is comprised of a complex set of processes, usually involving a geographically distributed production team from diverse functional areas, using multiple process steps, and exceptional amounts of information regarding publishing requirements and the targeting of content. This paper examines the needs a CMS must address in today's organizations, as well as what is required to enable efficient content management going forward.

What can we learn from Jakob Nielsen?

Found this discussion with Philip Greenspun in ArsDigita Systems Journal reacting to last years' Nielsen book, Designing Web Usability.

Tune up your web site for usability

Article by Laura Wonnacott in Enterprise Systems Journal (p. 50), 12/01/2001 (not available on the web).

Here's the secret to selling the principles of Web usability within your organization: a usable application costs less and generates more.


For the past few years, Web development at most companies has been all about build, build, build, and fast. Very little thought and effort have gone into creating usable Web applications. If your company has been one of those in the build mode, I suggest it's now time to fix, fix, fix. Making your applications more usable need not be a costly task. In times of tight budgets, usability improvements can effectively and efficiently deliver to the business.

Usability is directly related to an organization's success--the bottom line. In particular, that means customer retention and acquisition. Simply put, customers return to usable sites. New customers quickly acquaint themselves with and become loyal to usable sites. All the usability chatter these days is actually a very good thing, because usability is critical to the success of an application, a project--and even a company.

Blog tracking with RSS

I started to add some personal blogs to the News Feeds RSS. If you run a blog with relevant news and want it to be added to the iaslash News Feeds, please let me know.


This might interest Mac users.

Scot Hacker talks about leaving the world of BeOS, Windoze and Linux to return to the Mac. I this very long article on OS News, the author of the BeOS Bible compares OS X to BeOS, discusses what was done right and wrong in OS X, and provides several useful links within including the link to Griffin's OS X guide collection.

The story of how a BeOS refugee (and not just everyone, but the author of the 'BeOS Bible' book) lost faith in the future of computing, resigned himself to Windows but found himself bored silly, tore out half his hair at the helm of a Linux box, then rediscovered the joy of computing in MacOSX. Scot Hacker will describe his personal adventures with today's operating systems after he was set out to find an alternative to his beloved (but with no apparent future) BeOS.

A prototyping thread

Just for the fun of it, I went through my SIGIA folder to see if there were any interesting messages I had saved and flagged. One of the threads in October that started with a question about best practices for prototype testing turned into an interesting discussion with some great citations. So I decided to extract the citations by going through the new nifty new SIGIA archives and am allowing them to resurface here.

When Google indexes the site it will be even cooler! :)

Using protocol analysis to evaluate the usability of a commercia

Article appearing in Information & Mangement (not available on the Web) that reports results of usability tests on a commercial site using the think aloud method.

Journal: Information & Management, v39n2, Dec 2001, p151-163
Author: Benbunan-Fich, Raquel

Despite the increasing popularity of electronic commerce, there appears to be little evidence of the methodical evaluation of the usability of commercial web sites. The usability of a web site defines how well and how easily a visitor, without formal training, can interact with the site. This paper reports the results of a research project, which applies a systematic qualitative technique known as protocol analysis or think aloud method, to examine the usability of a commercial web site. About 15 usability principles and 3 evaluation parameters (content, navigation and interactivity) were used as a framework to analyze the verbal protocols of a sample of users interacting with a greeting card web site. The protocols provided evidence of usability problems caused by crowded content, poor navigation and cumbersome interactivity. These results underscore the importance of two crucial usability goals for commercial web sites: clear path to products and transparency of the ordering process.

View Visio drawings and diagrams in IE

This might interest some. Microsoft is previewing a new Internet Explorer component that will let you view Visio drawings within IE. Download Visio 2002/2000 Viewer

SIGIA-L Mail Archives

Thanks to the great volunteer effort over at IAorg, the SIGIA-L hypermail archives are now up. Archives hold messages from May 2000 - present.

Thanks to everyone who had a part in this, this is a much needed resource. Apparently the culprits included Jared Folkmann, Andrew McNaughton, Karl Fast, and David Schneider.

The 'Segway' and Usability

New on Frontend Usability Infocentre.

After all the fuss about IT, does the 'Segway' really meet user needs? Or is it a classic example of a product nobody really wants that was only built because it could be?

What Exactly Are IA Components?

Lou clarifies his post Selecting IA Components by defining what they are exactly (polar bear style).

I guess that if I'm going to prattle on about how to select information architecture components, as I did in my last posting, then I should probably spend a little time describing what exactly they are.

An IA component is any part of an information system (e.g., a web site) that gets users to content. Navigation bars, site maps, link labels, query languages, all are components of an information architecture.

Google indexes catalogs

Google loves to raise the bar. This is a must see.

Google Catalogs beta was released. Apparently that staff of PhD's has figured out how to effectively index the world's catalogs just in time for the holidays. You won't believe what you see when you execute a search. These are searches against print catalogs! The search results show your terms hilighted on the printed pages.

Notable Graphic Designers and Their Accomplishments

Human Interaction Design Protocol's selection of graphic designers that programmers and computer scientists should know about.

[Y]ou can read about some of the most recognized leaders in the graphic design industry that have helped shape the design industry into what it is today. You may be surprised to read how some of these designers were early adapters of technology based design and realized the importance of understanding and trying to integrate different forms of technology into their work. It's even more interesting to see that some of those that were not early adapters of emerging internet technologies are not only being forced to recognize, understand and incorporate certain technologies into their own work, but it's these same designers now being called upon to do work for and often create the identities of emerging technology based companies.

Apple Internet Developer Accessiblity

Apple's page on Section 508 and some suggestions for producing accessible web pages.

eNarrative interview with Peterme

eNarrative chats with Peter Merholz about story telling, information architecture, Adaptive Path, defining IA, weblogs, and design.

Information architecture versus graphic design

It's not surprising that Gerry McGovern thinks it's all about the content.

Much web design has suffered from an over reliance on graphic design principles. Too many graphic designers have tried to force the Web to be what it is not, in the process creating ineffective and sometimes unusable websites. Quality web design is driven by information architecture design principles. Graphic design should support these principles.

IA/UXD/Usability Conferences

2002 conferences are now listed in IAWiki.

Forrester report on web site usability

In Design Accessible Sites Now (requires paid subscription), Randy Souza of Forrester suggests that accessibility and usability issues in mind is a matter of saving company dollars. He cites that one of five Americans has some form of legal disability and federal laws now require federal government sites to conform to accessibility rules.

Today's approach to accessibility fails because it's an afterthought -- if thought of at all. To get designers, developers, and content contributors to support users with disabilities, companies must bake accessibility into their processes. Improvements require discipline but not much money, and they'll pay off.

Some calls to action suggested in the report:

  1. Conduct usability research with disabled users.
  2. Vet design firms for expertise.
  3. Scrutinize Flash and DHTML-based navigation.
  4. Access technology vendors: Join the party.
  5. Content management players: Improve tagging interfaces.

What it will mean to the industry:

  1. Fast movers will win loyalty from disabled customers.
  2. Text-to-speech improvements will lead blind users online.
  3. Baby Boomers will fan the accessibility flames.
  4. Microsoft will use accessibility to get tight with the government.
Information architecture is basically a two-part exercise

Lou distills IA to two steps.

  1. First choose the most useful tools and techniques (e.g., card sorting, contextual inquiry) to learn about users' information needs, the characteristics of content, and organizational context and constraints.
  2. With that knowledge in hand, design an information architecture using the subset of all possible architectural components (e.g., site index, search engine) that will provide high value to users while minimizing development and maintenance costs.

Well, there's a bit more to it actually. Read more into these steps in the well-developed user, content and context attributes Lou wants you to consider in the process of developing IA. It's like a checklist of questions you should pose to a project team when planning and writing requirements for your project.

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