Ask Tufte

I logged the new Tufte site a while back, but neglected to mention the Ask E.T. section, where Tufte responds to questions. From the looks of it, you can react to or supply your own answers as well, although I would guess that there is a good deal of filtering of responses.

Google Zeitgeist

In it's Zeitgeist page, Google has begun posting some data and graphs based on search patterns and trends. You'll find some useful, interesting and just plain wacky observations. Today, comparison searches show that more people search for Angelina Jolie than for Lara Croft. thanks LIS News

E-Shopping Must Be Made Less Technical

Newsbytes reports on a Brigham Young University (BYU) study of shopping attitudes (sponsored by IBM and JCPenny). Online retailers need to re-target their marketing, address consumer credit card security issues, and make the Internet shopping experience less technologically challenging, a study has found. thanks Webword

Net Is Still Popular, But Not to Shop

Despite the dramatic slowdown in the high-tech sector, the Internet is still very popular with the American public, who regard the medium more as a useful information source than as an electronic shopping mall or stock exchange. That's one of several conclusions reached by a massive study titled, "Toward a Framework for Internet Accountability," being released here Tuesday morning by the Markle Foundation.

Retailers Must Turn Shopping Carts Into Wish Lists

A new Forrester brief proffers advice for ecommerce sites that offer wish lists. Wish lists are valuable tools for driving gift sales, but partnerships with cross-site wish lists will benefit only those retailers that cater to gift givers and teenagers. Other merchants should skip these partnerships and just modify shopping carts to double as wish lists.

Effective alt text

Tom Farrell discusses how to use alt text effectively on Frontend Usability Infocentre. Effective alt text requires an understanding of how people use your web pages, and providing them with carefully written text which is appropriate to their needs.

Prescriptions for usable library web sites.

If you work in a library Laura Kaspari Hohmann offers some suggestions for making your site usable in "Prescriptions for usable library web sites." Online. 25 (4): 54. Despite the name of the journal, this article is not available "online" (or on the Web anyway). It is available if you have access to a news aggregator like Dow Jones Interactive.

Search engine update

Some changes to the search engine space according to Online. Altavista has reverted to ORing terms by default. Altavista's Raging Search is dead (unfortunately). Magellan is gone. Google continues to expand its features and leads the way with the largest database of Web sites.

New theme

If you are a registered ia/ user and have a theme set, there is a new theme (now the default) called Boxy. If you're logged in, you can change the theme here. -m

Check your pages for backward compatibility

Delorie Software's "HTML Authoring Services" let you check your Web pages for backward compatibility and see your pages through the lens of different HTML standards.

IEEE Professional Communication: Global business communication

The June issue of IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication takes an international focus. This special issue looks at some interactions of culture, communication behaviors, and multimedia technology. . I found particularly interesting in the Zahed, Van Pelt, Song article, "A conceptual framework for international Web design". Here's a partial TOC:

  • Technical innovation and global business communication: an introduction
  • A conceptual framework for international web design.
  • The local and the global: An exploration into the Finnish and English websites of a Finnish company.
  • Exploratory research on the role of national and professional cultures in a distributed learning project.
  • Non-face-to-face international business negotiation: How is national culture reflected in this medium?.
  • A recipe for mission and vision statements.
  • Successful Proposal Strategies for Small Businesses: Winning Government, Private Sector, and International Contracts.
  • Book review: Successful Proposal Strategies for Small Businesses: Winning Government, Private Sector, and International Contracts.
  • Book review: User-Centered Information Design for Improved Software Usability.
Helping Users Find Physical Locations

When we asked users to find a nearby store, office, dealership, or other outlet based on information provided at a parent company's website, users succeeded only 63% of the time. On average, the 10 sites we studied complied with less than half of our 21 usability guidelines for locator design.

Web analytics: One hot career path

The demand for Web analytics -- people who analyze how visitors navigate a Web site -- is poised to explode over the next five to 10 years.

Guardian posts feedback on Jack Schofield's indictment of Web designers

If you read Schofield's Second Sight, you will remember that he was particularly whiny about the usability of today's Web offerings. Well, seems this provoked a lot of feedback from designers, so the Guardian posted some of the commentary.

Color-blind accessible Web pages

Have been using the Vischeck Photoshop plugin to test pages for red/green color-blind accessibility. Vischeck is a way of showing you what things look like to someone who is color blind. You can use it on a single image or on a web page. You can also download programs to let you run it on your own computer.

The future of the Internet according to Nielsen

Kim Gilmour asks Nielsen about what he thinks the internet will be like in 20 years. See what other experts had to say about the future of the Internet in the August issue of Internet Magazine.

Airlines On Trial

A comparative user test of Ryanair.com and Aerlingus.com reveals major difficulties with the latter, and provides a unique insight into common user problems with online ticket purchasing. This sample user test report includes video footage, detailed test results and an overview of how the testing procedure works.

Navbars: Why Drill-Down Menus are Harmful

Kristoffer Bohmann says drill-down menus are harmful and that the ideal way to navigate a website is to point on a link and click. The menu on Cell Network, the example that Bohmann cites, is different from what most people are probably used to and probably makes interaction with the site harder at the onset. And of course, the navigation system only offers a high-level view of the site's content, and thus makes it difficult to get an idea of the corpus of available material (an overview). It was not very difficult for me to intuit that the section titles were links, but certainly the menus are not quite as obvious as the omnipresent dhtml drop down menus that appear on sites like FastCompany (easily achieved using code libraries like webreference's hiermenus). Maybe harmful, but certainly not fatal.

    Drill-down menus make interaction more difficult, destroy the user's overview, and poor wording make users give up using the site. ... User interaction is harder compared to the standard point and click-method. Getting a view of options provided by the entire site is tough. Users leave the site if they don't understand the 2-3 words in section titles.
Personally, I like innovative approaches at design and am not turned off by interfaces which ask users to learn and experiment a little bit. I guess the real question for this company is, "does the navigation drive users away?". It would be wise for this company to do log analysis pre and post this design -- assuming that this was a redesign of an earlier version. thanks LucDesk

Kill the X10 tiny wireless camera

I downloaded the free Pop-Up Stopper application for Internet Explorer (sorry, PC users only) by PanicWare, which allows you to control pop-up windows that appear as you surf. Good results so far. Be warned that if you enable this software, you may disable opening of windows from applications such as email readers (this happened with Outlook). You can set preferences to alert you when a pop-up window was attempted. You can toggle between enable/disable in the system tray.

Sapient redesign crit

blackbeltjones breaks down sapient's redesign.

    Sapient have redesigned their site. In the main it's clean, effective rebrand and refresh of their site which hadn't changed for around 2 years.
from elegant hack