Have-It-Your-Way Web Sites Start To Catch On

from Tomalak's Realm InteractiveWeek talks about customizable product offerings on the Web. On the Internet, nobody knows you eat mango Cheerios. Except General Mills, which is happy to sell it over the Web for $12 per box. From breakfast kibble to makeup to cars, big companies such as Ford Motor, General Mills and Procter & Gamble have launched Web sites to give customers the ultimate buying experience: the ability to acquire self-designed products for a premium.

Big adds will not save advertising according to Forrester

New Forrester report on the big and popup ad annoyance. New, large Web ad units, called "big ads", are not silver bullets for online advertising. Big ads significantly outperform banners today, but response rates will fall as their novelty wears off. Marketers need a more comprehensive strategy to deliver new ad types based on users' concentration levels.

Usability analysis of useit.com

A recent drop.org article pointed me to an interesting evaluation of Jacob Nielsen's UseIt.com:The site scored well on compliance with basic standards, legibility and issues pertaining to users with disabilities. However, the site scored very poorly on organization and architecture. Information was difficult to identify and find, navigational support was flawed and minimal, and pages tended to be overly long, dense and lacking in internal hypertext navigation. UseIt.com rated only a "C" grade (75%) in an evaluation of 40 usability points identified by Nielsen himself.

Error message guidelines

Nielsen suggests guidelines for error messages.. Established wisdom holds that good error messages are polite, precise, and constructive. The Web brings a few new guidelines: Make error messages clearly visible, reduce the work required to fix the problem, and educate users along the way.

Microsoft's Smart Tags Threaten the User Experience

Mark Hurst talks about Microsoft's Smart Tags on Good Experience: Microsoft's upcoming release of Windows XP contains a feature that attempts to suck all meaningful experience out of every page on the Web. The feature, called Smart Tags, has brought about a loud discussion on many websites -- Web developers everywhere screaming for Microsoft to stop, and Microsoft arrogantly defending itself. Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg describes Smart Tags: Smart Tags allow Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser -- included in Windows XP -- to turn any word on any Web site into a link to Microsoft's own Web sites and services, or to any other sites Microsoft favors. In effect, Microsoft will be able, through the browser, to re-edit anybody's site, without the owner's knowledge or permission, in a way that tempts users to leave and go to a Microsoft-chosen site -- whether or not that site offers better information.

Mid-Tokyo Maps

Mid-Tokyo Maps is a must see for info. designers, and cartography fans. (If you want to skip the initial flash screen, go to the html index) This site shows how Flash can be used to effectively present quantitative content without boring your audience. The maps show different sets of quantitative data for Mid-Tokyo and compare that data with Manhattan (New York City).

Defining IA

Christina posted this in a comment and I didn't want it to get lost.I'm collecting definitions of IA for the reason AD stated in ASIST Bulletin; we need to move on feel free to bop over and add your own, perhaps we can finally come up with one we can all live with.

Lou Rosenfeld's webloug

via webword Lou Rosenfeld started a Bloug (i.e. B*lou*g).

The Conversion Rate

New article on Usability InfoCentre discussing conversion rates. The success of most e-business ventures comes down to one figure - the percentage of visitors who go on to become customers. ... Simply put, conversion rate represents the percentage of unique visitors who go on to interact with the site in a pre-defined way. Usually this means make a purchase, but depending on the site in question it could mean registering for more information, placing a bet or opening an account.

User-Centered Information Design for Improved Software Usability

The book User-Centered Information Design for Improved Software Usability, by Pradeep Henry, is reviewed in IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, v44n2, Jun 2001, p155-158.

Gray's Anatomy on Bartleby.com

from

How It Works: Online Maps for Here, There and Everywhere

With map-generating software, the shortest distance between any two points may run through your computer monitor. NYTimes Circuits illustrates how mapquest.com constructs maps.

Why It's Getting Easier to Get Your Teenager Off the Phone

An article on The Standard talks about teens and instant messaging. A new study shows that instant messaging and the Internet are changing the dynamics of teen communication. ... A new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project says teenagers have adopted the Internet – and instant messaging – so completely that it has even replaced face-to-face communication as the primary mode of interacting for some teens.

Government accessibility

The big day for Section 508 arrives. In InfoWorld, Government 'accessibility' effort goes into effect. A broad government initiative to drive the development of more IT products and services for people with disabilities kicks into full gear. All vendors selling to the federal government must now have equivalents for the products and services they offer that allow agencies to accommodate people with disabilities. ... Starting June 21, federal employees with disabilities are able to file complaints if not properly accommodated. Accessibility standards developed by government-chartered Access Board, however, will not take effect as regulations until Monday, June 25.

IAs in search of an identity?

Andrew Dillon talks about IA at the ACM SIGCHI conference in the June/July ASIST Bulletin. The prevailing message of the article is that while we try to define and differentiate IA concerns -- like information organization and labeling -- from other fields, a lot of other issues that what we concern ourselves with is no different from what HCI people have always been concerned with -- like user interface design, user interaction and usability. The biggest obstacle to IA becoming a distinct discipline remains its lack of unique methods and theories. It has few, if any, which are not drawn from or based on work in HCI, LIS or CS (if I left out your pet discipline it is only because I cannot remember its acronym). Attempts to position IA as a unique approach, distinct from these others, are unlikely to convince anyone and will certainly disenfranchise certain groups who feel that they perform similar work. Without engaging across disciplines we are going to run straight into them, forming panels at conferences to answer questions that everybody else has long since given up asking. Hair splitting divides produce splinter groups, not disciplines. IA, as a meta-discipline, should engage and share, not partition. After all, professionals in many camps tend to share the same goals: the design, development and implementation of more humanly acceptable information systems. As long as we are battling to get human-centered design taken seriously, such professionals are all on the same side. And maybe then, and only then, will we design e-books that offer something better than paper.

Keep it simple, stupid!

Digital Web Magazine's current feature focusses on design simplicity. The expressions "Keep it simple, stupid", "Kill your darlings" and "Less is more" all pinpoint the fact that simplicity is important. Simplicity lasts. Simplicity is necessary in order to properly convey any idea. ... I believe that content is king. It always will be. But—evidently—an excellently written text easily disappears if placed in an improperly designed environment, and excels when appearing in a well-designed context.

Voting and usability

The Usability Professionals Association and SIGCHI have resolved to work together to help find a better solution for designing usable and accessible ballots. Toward this goal, UPA is suggesting what individuals can do to help this effort. To be further involved, you can subscribe to the usablevote Yahoo! group.

Avoiding design snafus

from tomalak's realm which seems to still be going strong As much as 80 percent of the cost of taking a product to market can accrue during the design phase. InfoWorld has an article about collaborative design software which seem to benefit large teams working on projects such as software development and equipment manufacturing. Such software, which creates a virtual workspace bringing all the design participants together, has numerous advantages over traditional approaches in which many enterprises have used e-mail, phone, or fax to collaborate internally, while limiting communications with suppliers to price negotiations.

Designing Help Text

Usability Infocentre article on designing help text: In an ideal world help text would be unnecessary - users would never get stuck in an application or site. But some users will have difficulty no matter how effectively and throughtfully an interface is built. Given that help text might be required, how is it best implemented?

Blurb Gallery

noise between stations surveys the variety of ways we display introductions to longer articles in the blurb gallery. Interesting to see them all together. Valuable to me because of the point about my metadata (the section link and date) being hard to pass over because it's treated the same as text.