wtmiller's blog

Sad state of online car- and mortgage-buying services

According to this article The Disintermediation Blues On the sad state of online car- and mortgage-buying services "Back when the dot-com boom was peaking, there was a lot of talk about how online services would blow away their anachronistic bricks-and-mortar competitors. Some of that has happened. Amazon.com, for example, has played a key role in forcing many local bookstores to close up shop. But many other targeted lines of business have been far less successful. The missing ingredients in many of those areas are top executives who understand the human, rather than the technical, factors required for success."

Flash critic to coach Macromedia

According to this CNet News.com report "Nielsen and his consulting firm, Nielsen Norman Group, will work with Macromedia to develop guidelines for creating practical, easy-to-use Web applications with the new version of Flash. The arrangement marks another turning point in Macromedia's efforts to expand the role of Flash, once used mainly for colorful but essentially useless graphics tricks. The company is promoting the new version of the software, Flash MX, as the basis for delivering Web applications that make sites more useful and easier to navigate."

Determining Causes and Severity of End-End of User Frustration

This study attempts to measure, through 111 subjects, the frequency, cause, and the level of severity of frustrating experiences. The data showed that frustrating experiences happen on a frequent basis. The applications in which the frustrating experiences happened most frequently were web browsing, e-mail, and word processing. The most-cited causes of the frustrating experiences were error messages, dropped network connections, long download times, and hard-to-find features. The time lost due to the frustrating experiences ranged from 30.5% of time spent on the computer to 45.9% of time spent on the computer

Book Review for: Usability: the Site Speaks For Itself

According to this Book Review for the new book: Usability: the Site Speaks For Itself, "There are no hard-and-fast rules for usability on the Web, which is why this book steers away from the rigid rules of gurus. Instead, this book looks at six very different, but highly usable sites. The web professionals behind these sites discuss the design of each site from inception to today, how they solicited and responded to feedback, how they identified and dealt with problems, and how they meet the audience's needs and expectations."

Developing an Online Form

This recent article on the usability.gov Web site is about: "Creating an online form can present developers with many challenges. This case study reviews how a paper-based form was taken through the usability engineering process to develop a functional online version. We discuss the steps in planning and research, prototype development, test design, and the usability test results."

Using Usability to Direct KM Systems

According to this Intranet Journal article, Using Usability to Direct KM Systems, "Knowledge management has much to learn from its older cousin, usability. In fact, usability provides many useful starting points for structuring and managing knowledge management projects. Most importantly, user-centred design efficiently and comprehensively identifies the business problems that need to be solved by knowledge management projects".

First Impressions on the Internet

According to this author of this Web Developer's Virtual Library column: First Impressions on the Internet "First impressions are very important in today's world. Such initial thoughts can determine whether we like someone from the start, whether or not we want to purchase a particular car, whether or not we like the house a realtor is showing us, and whether or not we get a particular job. It is also true that first impressions mean a lot when people look at web sites"

Instructive Interaction:

Instructive Interaction: Making Innovative Interfaces Self-Teaching is a an pdf article by Larry Constantine and Lucy Lockwood of foruse.com.

According to the article: "Instructive interaction comprises a body of techniques based on a learning-by-doing model that is supported by three design principles: explorability, predictability, and guidance. Taken together, these principles form the basis for creative designs that can support highly efficient production use by experienced users while also enabling new users to nderstand and make effective use of an unfamiliar system almost immediately. The underlying principles of instructive interaction are presented here and an assortment of specific techniques based on these principles is described."

Strategies for Categorizing Categories

According to this User Interface Engineering study: "the number of pages that a user visited before they put something into their cart was inversely proportional to purchasing. The more pages they visited, the less they bought. The study was based on 5 e-commerce sites where 44 users shopped for a total of 687 products.

A Dynamic Index: Reinventing the Online Help in XML

This MSDN article describes a method for generating a Table of Contents from xml tags embedded in each document. While the article focuses on creating a TOC for online help, the techniques potentially have a wider application. The article includes a downloadable set of files that demonstrate the technique.

XML feed