Websphinx

Someone posted a link to Websphinx on SIGIA. An interesting Java applet that crawls a URL you enter and diagrams the documents linked from that URL as it crawls them. It's interesting watching the pages propagate -- it's like cellular mitosis. You can also view the documents in a hierarchical list.

Nielsen interview on Guardian

The Guardian asks Jakob Nielsen about the current state of the Web and his favorite sites. I like this quote about his favorite leisure sites (I guess sites he surfs for fun and leisure) The web is not really a leisure environment. It is more for getting things done. If you want to sit and enjoy yourself, watch television or read a book.

Companies Assist Agencies in Making Sites Disability-Friendly

An article on section 508 in Washtech.com notes that firms doing accessibility work for government agencies -- e.g. those helping retrofit Web sites -- have an abundance of work as a result federal act.

Advance for Design Summit #4 Summary

Erin Malone summarizes Advance for Design Summit 4.

use.it.or.lose.it

Making fun with Jakob.

SI's HistoryWired interface

Speaking of Smartmoney.com, on CHIWEB someone posted a link to the Smithsonian Institute's History Wired which uses the Smartmoney data visualization tool to navigate to selected objects from the vast collections of the National Museum of American History using a zooming interface.

Provide browsing using classification schemes

I'm presently reading an article on using classification schemes for Web domains published by Lund University's project DESIRE, Development of a European Service for Information on Research and Education. There's to be a lot of IR research available under the DESIRE site.

Scenario Design Depends On Personas

If you have access to Forrester, this Forrester Brief talks about personas. This is targetted at clients or in-house teams more than design agencies or consultancies. Many firms still lack the critical user information necessary for successful Scenario Design. Companies that create design personas have the necessary foundation for crafting a great user experience.

Did Poor Usability Kill E-Commerce?

Nielsen's Alertbox: User success rates on e-commerce sites are only 56%, and most sites comply with only a third of documented usability guidelines. Given this, improving a site's usability can substantially increase both sales and a site's odds of survival.

Collaboration software

Webreview has an article on software for colloborative communication and development. My team of co-workers are located all over the country these days, so I rely on AIM to chat and my Handspring Visor EyeModule to capture whiteboards. EQuill has also been valuable for quickly annotating Web pages. There are a lot of good suggestions in the WebReview article, especially for those of you looking to collaborate with colleagues on the cheap.

Examining User Expectations of the Location of Web Objects

This one is not new, but I never logged it here. Michael L. Bernard's (Software Usability Research Laboratory, Wichita State University) article on the placement of objects on Web pages talks about user expectations for particular objects. This graphic pretty much sums it up.

  • Home link: upper left corner and bottom center
  • Internal links: upper left below home link
  • Advertisements: Top and top right
  • External links: Left below internal links and right
  • Search engine: Top center below advertisements
Of course, one can also conclude that these expectations are based on countless numbers of large sites imitating each other with regard to layout. Matt Jones mulls over the "idiom of web use" at Black Belt Jones.

Mapping the stock market

Tomalak's realm logged this Mappa.Mundi article on the SmartMoney.com map that shows "changing stock prices of over 500 publicly-traded companies on a single screen". I remember 2 years ago seeing a building-sized screen billboard covering the J&R Office World's new building that had this graphic on it with Black, Green and Red squares and labels of what seemed like industry sectors. I thought to myself. Hmm. Looks like an information graphic. (I never checked out the URL, though. Can't remember actually seeing one.) It is in fact a great example of how information visualization can help to effiently and quickly communicate what is happening with large data sets -- like money changing hands in the stock market. Here's how it works: In the map each tile represents a single company, with the size of the tile being proportional to its market capitalization. So, the larger the tile, the greater the value of the company. This allows the value of different companies to be assessed by simply comparing the size of their tiles. The colour of the tile encodes the change in the company's stock price over a set time period.

Industry Standard Suspends Publication, Shutters Offices

Wow. The Standard is suspending publication beginning this week according to this article at BizReport. The Standard is a great source for much of the industry information that is blogged here.

Palm to acquire Be

While this may not interest everyone, but Palm is close to finalizing an acquisition of OS maker Be, Inc. Palm has been reorganizing the company to refocus itself on handheld computer hardware, its traditional core business, as well as the licensing of the Palm software platform. Last month, Palm announced that Motorola, Intel, and Texas Instruments were working on readying Palm's handheld computer operating system, Palm OS, for use with more powerful chips, including some based on the ARM microprocessor core. The move was part of an effort by Palm to allow hardware manufacturers to design more innovative devices to run the Palm OS, as well as encouraging companies to create more advanced applications for the devices. Be's core product is its Internet appliance, BeIA, which has minimum hardware requirements including Pentium-class or PowerPC class processors, 8MB of persistent storage, and at least 32MB of RAM, Be said on its Web site.

How it works: Implantable cardioverter defibrillator

New Circuits information graphic illustrating the mechanics of the implantable cardioverter defibrillator or I.C.D..

How MarthaStewart.com Grows Product Sales with Online Community

This is a good example of how to strategic planning with the right people can make or break your Web offering.

Most useful search sites?

Web sites can provide obscure facts. More resources for all kinds of research are available on the Web.

Computer Developers Aiming to Exterminate the Mouse

Change what's on screen just by changing your mind? That's the long-term goal. 'Touch' devices may arrive first. Controlling a computer has been largely defined over the years by the humble keyboard and mouse. Now, researchers are turning their attention to new kinds of controllers, including eye movements, voice commands and even brain waves. thanks WebWord

Card sorting

I found Information & Design today, a usability consultancy in Melbourne, Australia. In addition to providing usability services, they offer some articles and a valuable toolkit which includes suggestions for organizing your content using card sorting and a Web evaluation checklist for heuristic analysis.

Zoe Holbrooks' Digital Eve and SIGIA_L survey

An iaslash reader suggested that we post Zoe Holbrooks' informal survey of Web professionals so it has been republished here with Zoe's permission. Thanks, Zoe. Back in June 2001, I did an informal survey of Digital Eve and ASIST's SIGIA_L folks who get paid to design, develop, deploy, and maintain Web sites for companies ranging from Internet start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. I asked if they hand coded their HTML, if they used editing programs (and which ones), what they thought their personal best skills were, and what they thought were the critical basic skills people aspiring to work in our industry are. Here's a snapshot of their responses. Who they are: Professional Web designers, developers, information architects, programmers, and information retrieval (search/taxonomy) specialists. Where they're from: Most respondents worked on the U.S. West Coast from Silicon Valley to Vancouver, British Columbia. However, people from the Midwest, New York City, Europe, and the Far East also responded. How much experience they have: Forty percent (40%) have between 1 and 4 years of industry working experience. Sixty percent have 5 or more years of paid industry experience. A couple of old timers had almost 10 years of experience each, making them the Wise Elders par excellence - because, after living through the fastest-moving, most mind-bending technological evolution in the past fifty thousand years, they're still working at it and (from the sound of their responses) loving it! How many hand code their HTML: Ninety-six percent (96%). Of those who hand code, 28% do so exclusively or almost always. The rest report using various editors. Most of the 72% who reported using editors commented that knowing how to hand code HTML was critical in order to correct problems with the editor-generated markup or otherwise tweak the code "under the hood." (There's no perfect editing package - most editing programs are a blend of a few really spiffy fantastic features and a lot of standard (or worse) features. Hence the need to make tweaks and fixes in the underlying HTML ... in a plain text editor ... by hand.) What software do they build their HTML with:

  • Dreamweaver -- 49%, most of these folks use Homesite as well.
  • Homesite -- 40%
  • Text program such as Notepad, Textpad, or the UNIX editors pico, vi, or emacs -- 28%
  • FrontPage -- 21%
  • BBEdit -- 11%
  • Miscellaneous Other -- 15%
What they consider their best skills personally:
  • Development / Tech skills, including databases, coding, etc. -- 40%
  • Information architecture skills, including information design and retrieval -- 32%
  • Communication skills -- 9%
  • Project Management skills -- 9%
  • Keeping skills current / continuing education -- 6%
What do they consider the "critical basic skills" for people getting into the industry:
  • Tech skills, such as coding, databases, new technologies (XML, etc.), and basic understanding of how the hardware and software of networks and computers work together -- 62%
  • Design and information architecture skills, such as graphics design, image production and manipulation, cross-browser issues, accessibility issues, usability and user experience, search behavior and taxonomy issues -- 45%
  • Soft skills, such as communication skills, keeping current with the industry trends in social contexts -- 40%
  • Thinking skills, such as critical and analytical thinking, problem-solving, intellectual interest in the industry and its technologies, open-mindedness, ability to see others' perspectives (clients, coworkers) -- 32%
  • Management skills -- 25%