jibbajabba's blog

Usability Engineering 101

On Webmasterbase, Nicky Danino provides some HCI principles for building successful navigation schemes. Brilliant graphics and tons of nifty little utilities are no replacement for usable navigation. No matter how good the site looks, it will be useless unless you give your visitor a viable system to get around your site. A well thought out navigation system will make an impression on the visitors to your site and if your content is good enough, visitors will return to your site again and again. We know that good navigation is essential to the success of a website, but what exactly does the term mean? There are some fundamental principles that successful navigation is built upon which you should take into consideration at the design stage, BEFORE actually writing any HTML. There are no right or wrong answers to achieving a successful navigation system, only happy or frustrated users. However, there are some basic principles which seem to work on the whole.

Content Wires taxonomies section

Content Wire maintains an excellent and frequently updated section of its site with news and resources relating to business taxonomies and taxonomy applications.

Good and bad interfaces

Madhu Menon starts an interface hall of shame. Today's post shows three interface designs (technically, it's actually software design). Two are something that Microsoft could have implemented years ago and saved not only a lot of grief to its customers, but also a loss of face. The other example is something that's not talked about much but is annoying enough.

The Next Computer Interface

Technology Review talks desktops with David Galertner. The desktop metaphor was a brilliant innovationó30 years ago. Now it's an unmanageable mess, and the search is on for a better way to handle information.

Cut intranet costs by factoring in usability

Computer Weekly usability article citing Jakob Nielsen. Businesses could halve training costs of intranets if they paid more attention to usability. ... Taking user experience into account at the design stage could have a dramatic effect, saving the implementation costs of redundant features and slashing training costs by up to half, Nielsen said. "If you make it simpler to user, you can cut training costs in half," he added.

Headlines for info-arch.org and iawiki.net

We started grabbing the headlines for changes to IAWiki and info-arch.org on the Surf/News filter page.

Escaping the Mousetrap

Alan Cantor's Evaluation of the accessibility and usability of the Windows keyboard-only interface. This paper evaluates the accessibility and usability of keyboard-only access to Windows 95, 98 and NT. I identify the people who need a good keyboard interface; highlight barriers they encounter when using Windows without a mouse; recommend ways to improve the keyboard interface; and establish design principles that developers can apply to ensure that applications are as accessible by keyboard as by mouse.

Meet the best web search site you've never heard of

With much hype, this article in ZDNet calls search engine AllTheWeb the best option if you're looking for freshness and higher relevancy in your results.

A free mini icon set

I created a set of small utilitarian icons for an X-Windows CRM application I worked on. I'm not an icon designer, so these may not be the best icons, but perhaps someone will find them useful for mocking up pages or something. You can download them here. -Michael (aka jibbajabba)

The Bottom Line in Web Design: Know Your Customer

Usability article in Ecommerce Times. According to Jupiter Media Metrix, 35 percent of online buyers said that better presentation of products on the Web would encourage them to buy more online. Web merchants have become laser-focused on expediting the purchasing process, so designers are having to justify their work in terms of usefulness first -- and aesthetics second.

What is HCI?

LucDesk pointed to this WebmasterBase article, where Nicky Danino defines HCI. Ever wondered what makes some Websites easier to use than others, or why some people seem to master new navigation systems quickly while others struggle to learn? Do you know why users get lost in electronic space or find it difficult to communicate with others through the medium of technology? These questions are just some of the driving forces behind research in the developing field of Human Computer Interaction. Human Computer Interaction is a term that you may or may not have heard. So let's explore what it is, and what role it can play in your Website development.

Hybrid Cars: Under the hood

New NY Times infographic for hybrid electrical cars. "Hybrid electric vehicles, which are gasoline-burning cars that also use electric motors to move the wheels. The vehicles look like regular cars, do not need to be plugged in to recharge like all-electric vehicles and use only about half the gasoline of a regular car."

Instant messaging at work jumps 110 percent

New Jupiter study about office IM and article in InfoWorld. Business users are warming up to instant messaging over the Internet, catching up with the explosive growth the service has enjoyed among home users, according to a new study. Among the three leading brands of instant messenger -- America Online's AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), Microsoft's MSN Messenger, and Yahoo's Yahoo Messenger -- business use was up 110 percent in the United States over the past year, from 2.3 billion minutes in September 2000, to 4.9 billion minutes in September 2001, research firm Jupiter Media Metrix said in a statement Wednesday.

Information Architect's Role

PowerPoint presentation about IA's role in User Experience Design by Raoul Rickenberg, standard deviation studios Lillian Svec, Walmart.com.

Cooper Newsletter

November newletter is online. Three traps -- We talk to a lot of technology companies here at Cooper, and over the years we've seen some clear patterns emerge. On the positive side, more and more companies are realizing the importance of a good user experience and of the overall usability of their products. Unfortunately, we also continue to see companies falling into the same product development traps, to the detriment of their products, their customers, and their business. ... To help you recognize bad practices and work to avoid them, here are three common development pitfalls. Whole lotta thwarting going on -- Organizations of every size are attempting to get a handle on their content generation, management, and publishing systems. This trend toward business process re-engineering (BPR) of content management is largely the result of an outsized proliferation of Web pages, intranet sites, and electronic communications strategies adopted by organizations, their partners, and customers.

The Speed of Information Architecture

By isolating enduring IA from adaptive IA, we can invest sensibly in long-term infrastructure while creating flexibility where it's needed. This is an interesting article by Peter Morville, who presents an argument for a) examining the speed of change in site development projects b) considering the application of faceted classifcation as a stable infrastructure for describing data, and c) considering a slow rate of change in faceted classification schemes and infrastructure elements in relation to a potentially more volatile rate of change in the controlled vocabulary and in presentation layer elements. Morville's discussion on the use of facetted classification (in this context, our taxonomy is a controlled vocabulary in disguise -- if you call main nodes broad terms and inner nodes narrow terms) suggests an interesting theory about rate of change in infrastructure and presentation layer elements. The model below shows this rate of change. VOLATILE * Content, Services, Interface * Adaptive Finding Tools * Controlled vocabulary * Enabling Technologies Embedded Navigation System * Faceted Classification Schemes STABLE Morville, I believe, suggests that a flexible presentation layer can post-coordinately arrange documents according to the Controlled Vocabulary terms applied, rather than to present a taxonomy as an aspect of interface and navigation. In the model above, elements upstream are flexible and grow as the corpus of data and the mode of presentation changes. But, the low level classification schemes become ingrained in users' mental model of this corpus. Any thoughts on this?

Senseboard -- keyboardless keyboard

Slashdot pointed to Senseboard Virtual Keyboard, a strange device taken out of the VR world and into mainstream computer interaction. Senseboard VK is typically used together with a PDA, a Smart Phone or a Wearable Computer with a Head Mounted Display. The VK hand mounted devices allow the user to type on any surface as if it were a keyboard. Sensors in the units measure the finger movements and artificial intelligence and a language processor determine appropriate keystrokes or mouse movements. Senseboard VK communicates by radio or wire with the PDA, Smart Phone or Wearable Computer.

14 Ways to Talk Clients Out of Ruining their Sites

New in WebTechniques. Temper your clients' enthusiasm with the wisdom of experience. Molly E. Holzschlag discusses the fourteen most common client-driven site errors.

Usage Modes that Work Together

In Webtechniques, Joshua Fruhlinger writes about understanding usage modes and enabling experiences that support business and marketing goals. You can't be the destination for all users at all times. Understanding your users' usage modes is an important first step in determining what kinds of value-added content, site architecture, and interface paradigms you can present without distracting your users to the point of undermining a site's primary mission. ... Understanding usage modes will help determine what kinds of content you can present without distracting them, while improving conversion, retention, and brand trust.

XML feed