jibbajabba's blog

Don Norman is wrong when he compares pens to software.

Scobleizer blogs about Don Norman's mixed metaphors. I usually don't tell people who are gurus that they are wrong, but I will in this case. Don, on stage at the Pop!Tech conference last Saturday, attacked the user interface of a product that Marc Canter was demonstrating (Canter is one of the guys who wrote Macromind Director). ... But then he pulled out his pen and compared Marc's software to it. (Don's main argument at that point was that he hates the desktop PC and that he wants easy-to-use appliances instead, like his famous pen). thanks Makovision

Community Infrastructure for Information Architects

Louis Rosenfeld sets up a new site for the IA community. This site is a hopeful attempt to discuss and capture ideas that may lead to useful shared services for the information architecture community. Some of the goals of this site are to:

  • Facilitate brainstorming on what sort of "community infrastructure" we might build together.
  • Help those who want to tackle these Big Things to meet each other and start working together.
  • Coordinate these efforts to whatever degree makes sense: that might range from creating a basic IA "portal" to building some sort of IA professional association.

Improving how search works

Content guy, Gerry McGovern, assesses the problem of finding content using search technologies and argues that the solutions lie in looking at the way we publish. For too long, for too many people, technology is a false god of productivity. Like incurable addicts, mangers sic are forever buying technology that will never, and can never, deliver the benefits it espouses. There is no better example of the great technology swindle than in the web search engine industry. ... The solution to search should not involve giving us bigger, faster shovels. It should involve organizations implementing better publishing processes. We need to see a lot less content being created that is a lot higher quality. Classification/indexing and other metadata creation can be supported by software, but must first-and-foremost be carried out by people.

Making Better Toys and Jumbo Jets by Sharing the Rough Draft

NY Times article about rapid prototyping using 3D modeling software. These tools "completely transform the economics and the social dynamics of model-making. It becomes as easy to change a slope on a car's hood as it is to change a typeface in the company newsletter," Mr. Schrage said. He thinks that the ability to make such changes easily can yield significant competitive advantage.

Beyond accessibility -- Treating users with disabilities as people

Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox for November 11 is now online. With current Web design practices, users without disabilities experience three times higher usability than users who are blind or have low vision. Usability guidelines can substantially improve the matter by making websites and intranets support task performance for users with disabilities.

Alternatives To User Requirement Gathering

New on Frontend Usability Infocentre. Market research techniques and customer surveys may seem to offer similar benefits to user requirement gathering, but in terms of assisting in application or site design they can be unhelpful or even misleading.

A Look at Usability

From Nancy Michell's Web Q&A column in MSDN magazine takes on Usability. Usability. It's that elusive quality that even the slickest and most professional of Web sites often pay little attention to. Starting this month, I'll be adding my own take on usability issues. Some will undoubtedly be long-held pet peeves dating back to my years as Web Producer here, while others will chronicle the newest and most advanced techniques designed to aggravate users. Most issues will concern Web applications, but I'll leave the door open.

No jibbajabba blogging for the next week

I'm taking some time off starting tomorrow and won't be doing any logging on ia/. If you are a registered user, feel free to submit news. Anonymous user submissions will go into a queue for review by an administrator (me) next week. I will be back to logging on Monday, Nov. 12th. Incidentally, if anyone wants to help out with ia/ logging or administration, please let me know.

Tim's user interface guidelines

Tim Gasperak's tips The following concepts have served me well in my job as an interaction designer/visual designer. While this is a short, general list, if you understand and can articulate these concepts to others through your information design, architecture and visual design efforts, the web could be a very different place than it is today. thanks LucDesk

Hypercam -- Software for recording user sessions

Hypercam captures the action from your Windows screen and saves it to AVI (Audio-Video Interleaved) movie file. Sound from your system microphone is also recorded.

Meet the New Information Architects

Paula Thornton talks from the new IA side of the fence. The distinctions between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ Information Architects became a point of focus in recent community discussions. It appears that the ‘new kids on the block’ are confused by job search results they’re getting using the term “information architect”. The ‘old’ definitions are showing up and they don’t know what to make of them. They never realized there was a history and a whole ‘nuther world of practitioners with similar yet different concerns. I promised them that, having experienced both worlds, I would attempt to bring this issue to bear: To make more people aware of the likenesses and differences. I also promised that we’d make an attempt to interact more often in each other’s universes.

Notes on the dimensions of prototype tests

Marc Rettig offers some things to think about when you're planning to test a prototype. These were scribbled during a project at HannaHodge because conversations about tests, both among the team and with clients, seemed to constantly mix levels or dimensions. Giving names to these dimensions seemed to help us talk sensibly about our choices, and transformed the discussion into an exercise in picking appropriate "settings" for each continuum of choices. Disclaimer: these categories are useful, but you may find other issues that are important for your particular project. Also, don't take the labels on the lines to be exhaustive--they describe stops along the way from one extreme to another. Again, there are many possibilities and common practices that are not mentioned explicitly in these notes.

Peter Morville's Semantics

Peter Morville's column has been revived under his new consultancy site as Semantics. All of Morville's WebReview, Web Architect articles are now also archived on his site.

Writing usability reports

Some pointers for creating usability testing reports via WebWord and Elegant Hack.

There is No Such Thing as Information Design

Jeff Raskin on the meaning of the term "information" and its misuse in the term "information design". As a curmudgeon, I am delighted to point out that the popular term, Information Design, is a misnomer. Information cannot be designed; what can be designed are the modes of transfer and the representations of information. This is inherent in the nature of information, and it is important for designers to keep the concepts of information and meaning distinct. ... Even though information is an abstraction that is independent of form and therefore information cannot be designed, the way in which we represent information to others is of crucial importance in communicating the meaning of the information. The representation of the information is the plastic medium with which we work. It would have been more appropriate to call this field "Designing Information Representation". thanks Makovision

Form Foibles - A Real Life Usability Lesson

Don Makoviney discusses form usability. Losing a quarter of your subscribers over a two-month period from a simple form foible can be a very bad thing when your company lives and dies by these numbers. When money is your bottom line, don’t scrimp on User Testing. While it took me months of data to look back in 20/20 hindsight, User Testing can give you near-perfect vision into the future success of your application.

Deconstructing: Cisco.com

Louis Rosenfeld deconstructs Cisco.com in InternetWorld. Poor information architecture and difficult-to-follow pathways seem designed to turn away the potential Cisco customer. Thanks Tomalak's Realm

Info Design / Arch Deliverable Schemas

Peter Bogaards is compiling a list of IA/ID deliverables on InfoDesign. Each is defined concisely and elements to appear in the documents are identified. Current practice shows that much discussion is devoted to concepts, theories, methods, and techniques of Experience Design in general and Information Design / Architecture (ID/A) in specific. Unfortunately, these discussions have not been productive enough so far vis-a-vis a deep understanding of ID/A activities and their results. A focus on the documents ID/As deliver and the building blocks ('elements') they consist of seems necessary. This document contains a set of ID/A deliverables (a.k.a. documents), which have been derived from various internal and external sources. Be aware, that this is a rather premature attempt to provide more consensus within the ID/A community on the structure, content, and presentation of the documents.

Symbol index

I found this great index of symbols -- searchable by word or by shape -- while researching meanings of symbols for icon creation. SYMBOLS.com contains more than 2,500 Western signs, arranged into 54 groups according to their graphic characteristics. In 1,600 articles their histories, uses, and meanings are thoroughly discussed. The signs range from ideograms carved in mammoth teeth by Cro-Magnon men, to hobo signs and subway graffiti.

Human markup language

In August, I logged the Internet News article on HumanML, which was sighted by Slashdot and LIS news in August. On SIGIA, someone posted the link to a new site devoted to the topic: http://www.humanmarkup.org/.

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