jibbajabba's blog

iaslash is back up

iaslash.org suffered some downtime this week because I ignored emails from Verisign urging me to renew my main host domain (studioid.com). I didn't realize that Network Solutions was now Verisign! So we were down 2 days while the DNS servers put us back in good status. Anyway, it was a welcome break because my TiBook arrived on the same day and I've been installing software and playing since then. Sorry for the lost days. -M

Flash Aesthetic

Article in ALA about the Flash Aesthetic. ITís DIFFICULT TO IDENTIFY an art movement while itís in progress - like the ups and downs of the stock market, the defining elements of a movement may not become clear until you come out on the other side of the boom or bust. Even so, the Flash aesthetic has developed enough to be identified and examined. ... Having attained a critical mass, the Flash aesthetic has begun to move from web-deployed animation to still-frame illustration, television commercials and music videos.

Study with people with low vision, no vision or motor impairments

BusinessWire article on accessibility study by Nielsen/Norman Group. There is a movement to make the Web open to everyone, including people with disabilities. In the first major study to observe Web usage by people with disabilities, usability expert Jakob Nielsen of Nielsen Norman Group (NNG) found that web usability was three to six times better for non-disabled people than for people with low vision, no vision or motor impairment.

Web Woes

This is a great essay by Gunnar Swanson that discusses the effect of design by committee (or by large teams) on graphic designers. Advocates an expanded role for designers as leaders (neée project managers) in large agencies/consultancies. Like many "traditional" areas of graphic design, much of the most interesting work on the web is in the form of big and/or technologically complex sites. Large projects require teamwork. Every team project involves compromise. In environmental graphic design, the architects and developers make decisions that affect the graphic designerís work. In print graphic design there are clients, marketing people, editors, account executives. . . all sorts of folk affecting our design. Somehow the web seems to be another manner of beast. Despite our rhetoric about form following function (well, maybe itís just the old folk like me that bother making those noises anymore), print graphic design is often just a veneer of style. In most other cases a few people make the basic choices about structure, look, end-user experience, and the like. On large web projects, teams or team leaders make basic decisions about the nature of the project. Graphic designers often find themselves in the role of visual dishwashers for the Information Architect chefs. thanks xblog

Questionnaires in Usability Engineering

Frequently asked questions and answers about the use of questionnaires in usability engineering compiled by Jurek Kirakowski, Human Factors Research Group, Cork, Ireland. thanks xblog

Notes from v-2 redesign

Xblog pointed to v-2's redesign notes which include specs, IA notes and comps. One of our main focuses in this redesign has been renewing or establishing a sense of community; not only for the web, but amongst designers of all fields. The most important way this can be furthered is to open-souce all the concepts, specs, comps, and technologies of this project as it happens.

More Bloug diagrams of IA

Nice improvements on Louis Rosenfeld's diagrams of IA at Bloug. I especially like the elephant graphic. Jess McMullin and I have taken one last pass at our diagram of how we see the various flavors of "post-Web information system design" (such as information architecture) and how they relate to established fields like merchandising and data modeling.

The Future of the 'Mobile Internet'

New on Frontend Usability Infocentre. The winners in the 'mobile Internet' space will be those companies who aim to meet user requirements as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Thesauri and controlled vocabulary list

Someone posted on SIG-IA, the URL for the listing of Thesauri and Controlled Vocabulary used by the National Library of Canada.

Prototyping Using Visio

Article in STC Usability SIG Newsletter, Usability Interface Vol 7, No. 1, July 2000, about using Visio for prototyping. Traditional paper prototyping is a useful method for testing designs, but it is rather limited. Rapid navigation between screens and pop-ups, for example, is not practical with paper prototyping. In addition, some elements, such as hotspots, are better viewed through an on-line prototype. As we were developing user interfaces for our company's browser-based healthcare information applications, we decided that paper prototyping was both awkward and inadequate for the frequent navigation necessary in the UI. Our users needed to access multiple screens from many areas, and paper mockups would not easily support such rapid movement or test it efficiently. Instead, we needed an on-line prototype without the overhead involved in coding one. Eventually, we found a way to convert our Visio drawings into an on-line prototype and soon had a quick, easy, and effective way for creating more dynamic prototypes from original Visio drawings.

The end of homemade websites

Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox for October 14. Web services will free individual site designers from having to program and design common features. This will decrease business costs, increase usability, and let designers focus on and improve features that are unique to each site.

Visio wireframe stencil updated (Michael Angeles)

I updated the wireframe stencils I created for Visio. Added:

  • Title, note and comment text blocks (snarfed from Visio flowchart sets)
  • Greeked text in 1 paragraph or 1 sentence blocks
  • Bulleted lists
  • Transparent gray box outline
  • Took paragraph padding out of heading shapes for better alignment along grid and guides
Zeldman navigation review at Adobe Studio

Jeffrey Zeldman leads an online review of website navigation menus at Adobe Studio.

Blind and Low Vision Users

Paper by Edward Hung, Department of Computer Science, University of Maryland discussing accessibility/usability issues when designing web sites for people who are blind or have low vision abilities. By definition, accessibility is a category of usability: software that is not usable by a particular user is not accessible to that person. Just like other usability measures, it is necessary to define accessibility with respect to the user task requirements and needs. For example, graphical user interfaces are not very accessible to blind users, but relatively accessible to deaf users. ... The purpose of this article is to provide recommendations, guidelines, examples and resources to web site developers on how to develop web sites accessible to users that are blind or have low vision. thanks LucDesk

Firms Must Cut Through Macromedia Flash Myths

Forrester brief (requires subscription) by Randy Souza advising that companies should not discount Flash because of commonly held myths, but should take steps to make sure implementations are successful. Firms can use Macromedia's Flash technology to add compelling, cross-platform interactivity to their sites. But companies must avoid common pitfalls by focusing design teams on functional tools that support user goals. Myths:

  • Using Flash will drive away visitors who don't have the plug-in.
  • Flash will result in glacially slow download times.
  • Flash is only useful for animation and splash screens.
  • Flash kills usability
Fitting Flash into the design process:
  • Force Flash "experts" to serve user goals.
  • Embrace Generator.
  • Build a repository of approved Flash interface elements.
Jakob Nielson video

Internet Guru Speaks on Web Usability. The Internet has increasingly become a part of our everyday lives. More and more people venture out into cyber space in search of anything from merchandise to scholarly discourse. Despite the variety of materials that can be found on the Internet, one thing has remained the same: the user. How do web sites keep users coming back? The issue of web usability seeks to address that problem, and believe or not, the answer is 'simple'. Jakob Nielsen, a world-renowned expert on Web Usability, will address those and other questions at the next icompass seminar scheduled for October 1, 2001. Nielsen, who earned a Ph.D. from the Technical University of Denmark, has authored several books and lectures around the world on the subject of web usability. According to his research, web sites have become much too complicated.Users are discouraged by graphics-intensive pages that load slowly; poor search engines that do not rank results according to relevance; and pages that are not clearly labeled. These are only a few of the mistakes that are commonly made by web designers. Web Usability measures how well a web site suits the user's needs: is it easy to use, succinct and understandable? In an age where the complexity of a site's visual affects and graphics design is thought by many to rank it in the higher echelons of web design, a site that is simple and easy to use will always keep users coming back. In the end, people are looking for sites that offer the convenience that being able to dial up from home is supposed to offer them. click here for access to video

Collecting Feedback About Your Website's Search Interface

Jakob Nielsen and Kara Pernice Coyne tell you how to to test your website's search interface for usability. This short article is extracted from the Nielsen Norman Group ecommerce study. thanks EH, the face of IA

The myth of convergence

Convergence. They've been preaching it for many years now. I assure you that it just isn't going to happen. Not today, not in the future. The media may be going all bonkers about it. That doesn't make it more likely. Nor will wishful thinking by companies that have invested large chunks of money in "convergence devices". Full story at: http://madman.weblogs.com/stories/storyReader$104

On the social construction of information (architecture)

v2 on the social construct of information and how it relates to IA work -- specifically drawing from specific examples of IA work in Japan. As information architecture becomes a more global discipline, it has to account for deep differences in the way information is handled across cultures. Very simply, and not necessarily obviously, different cultures think in widely divergent ways about what constitutes a fact, and what can be done with one. That old thing about meaning being socially constructed comes swinging into play with all the force of a sumo ejecting another from the ring. This directly affects the structure of a given website, sure, but even more importantly it affects the process of site development. thanks EH and infodesign

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