"Blueprints for the web" - A review

I just finished reading "Blueprints for the web" and wrote down my thoughts about it.

Apple's Word killer

The rumors are floating around that Apple will be releasing a professional word processing application. This should come as no surprise, given that the company has released Keynote, a PowerPoint replacement.

Track discussion of this rumor via Blogdex.

Good gut

Nice discussion on EH:

    I'm beginning to theorize that designers and usability researchers can start to quickly evaluate designs with their gut, once they have seen enough usability tests. ... In fact I think the gut is more accurate than a rule. How to Think With Your Gut lends credence to this theory.
Card Sorting

The InformIT article on card sorting Blueprints for the Web: Organization for the Masses (free registration required) is an excerpt from Christina's "Blueprints" book.

Gestalt theory and design

In Visual perception and design, Tanya points to some resources for Gestalt theory and design, including Luke Wrobleski's Visible Narratives: Understanding Visual Organization in Boxes and Arrows, which I didn't see last week. Don't know how I missed that one. Last week must have been busy.

HTML's Time is Over. Let's Move On.

By David Heller in Boxes and Arrows.

    As users and builders demand more and more richness from the Web, we need to re-evaluate the technology that 99% of it is built on. It seems no matter how sophisticated our back ends get, the front ends remain stagnant. What other options are there? What are the requirements that we as user experience designers face that newer technologies miss the boat on?
Practical Applications: Visio or HTML for Wireframes

By Jeff Gothelf in Boxes and Arrows.

    Design organizations inevitably run across the debate of Visio versus HTML wireframes. The decision for one over the other is never a clear-cut one since, as with all things IA-related, it depends. This article seeks to sort out the issues by describing the pros and cons of each and identifying situations where one may be more effective than the other.
Voice Interfaces: Assessing the Potential

Jakob Nielsen says, in Alertbox, that voice interfaces have the greatest potential in the immediate future when they can be applied to situations where the traditional keyboard-mouse-monitor combination are problematic, e.g. users with disabilities, phone systems, cars. He adds that "visual interfaces can communicate much more information than auditory interfaces whenever users have a monitor and are capable of looking at it. And that "voice interfaces hold their greatest promise as an additional component to a multi-modal dialogue, rather than as the only interface channel."

It's fun to note that Jakob uses a HipTop. He's got a good suggestion for how to make voice alerts usable, if you want to have your phone tell you, "Your mother is calling". Would you really want that, though?

Frames and global navigation patented

I didn't believe this when I read it on other blogs, but Prodigy is claiming that in 1996 they patented web site global or primary navigation. There's a story on this topic in the NY Times. Something really has to be done about how patents get awarded. Why on earth would anyone want to pursue royalties on an interface design element such as navigation menus? I'm sure someone can make the claim that the design of persistent menus can be traced back to non-web interfaces and argue that these types of menus are not a new thing. This would be a good time to use the Internet Archive's way back machine, in this case to find some pre-1996 example of global navigation.

More from the article:

    When British Telecom claimed in 2000 that it had patented the Web's ubiquitous hyperlink, the Internet erupted in a fit of protest that lasted until the company lost its test infringement case against Prodigy Communications last summer.

    But that has not stopped Prodigy's parent company, SBC Communications, from asserting a patent claim on a Web navigation technique nearly as widely used. According to letters SBC sent out last week, the company believes that any Web site that has a menu that remains on the screen while a user clicks through the site may owe it royalties.

Mike K's book also coming April 2003

Looks like Morgan Kaufman picked up Mike Kuniavsky's book on user research (which was looking for a publisher), and that Observing the User Experience: A Practioner's Guide for User Research will arrive in April! Congratulations Mike :)

Tips for contextual interviews from Adaptive Path

Mike Kuniavsky offers practical advice on running a "nondirected interview" in his latest: Face to Face With Your Users: Running a Nondirected Interview.

Collaborative Knowledge Networks

Gunnar pointed me to Deloitte Consulting report, Collaborative Knowledge Networks: Driving Workforce Performance Through Web-enabled Communities, which I'm reading today. (Warning, lengthy regisration process to download the PDF). A lot of research reports available there for free if you register. This one is helping me with a KM article I'm writing presently.

Semantic search project for Moveable Type

From Ben and Mena

Maciej Ceglowski has built a prototype for a semantic search engine. To adapt it to function as a Movable Type plugin, he needs sample content that he can test against.

If successful, the search feature would let you do a keyword search, and get back relevant results even when there was no exact keyword match.
If you use Moveable Type, and you'd like to help out, send him some content.

Maciej is using latent semantic analysis to enable local search beyond keyword indexing. Sounds like an ambitious and exciting project.

Why can't everyone have site searches like this?

While searching for some obscure hardware from antiquity on the Western Digital site I spotted that they have an extremely cool site search system. Just searching does the standard things. Once you have your results the search box also gives options for "Fuzzy", "Stemming", "Phonic" and "Natural Language". I think these options are great for rerefiining a little better. Clicking on each of the options brings up a window with a handy definition. I just thought more sites should give users a little bit of flexability and credit for understand concepts like WD.

Introduction to XFML

Peter published an article on XML.com that describes what XFML is and how to use it. Nice work, Peter.

IA in Italiano

Eric pointed some AIfIA folks to the InformationArchitecture.it site. Wow, I might get to use that 2 semesters of Italian I took.

Making Cents from Information Architecture

Article on the value of IA by Alan K'necht in Digital Web.

When it comes to Web development, everybody has taken short cuts over the years. This holds especially true when working on low budget projects. One of the most costly short cuts is skipping the development of a sound and highly functional information architecture (IA). While this short cut may take several forms, failure to devote enough resources and to document it properly will cost the owner of the Web site more than just a few cents.

Boxes and Arrows: Interaction and interface

What is a Web Application? by Bob Baxley

What distinguishes a web application from a traditional, content-based website and what are some of the unique design challenges associated with web applications? A reasonable launching point is the more fundamental question, ?What is an application?

Visible Narratives: Understanding Visual Organization by Luke Wroblewski

Visual designers working on the web need an understanding of the medium in which they work, so many have taken to code. Many have entered the usability lab. But what about the other side? Are developers and human factors professionals immersed in literature on gestalt and color theory?

XML Related Acronyms Top 100

My colleague at work just shared this link with me. The site has lots of great content around XML and this really cool top 100 list of XML related acronyms.

ia/ gets small for the HipTop

Sorry to throw the layout out of wack again. Sseems like I do that every 6 months. I made the default theme show the login and custom block in the right side to make the page usable for handheld browsers (Hiptops and PDAs). If you want the old theme, you'll need to select the rokakuleft theme in your account preferences.

If you're going to be surfing on a handheld you can try the new handheld theme [view screenshot]. You can select the handheld theme in your account preferences.