ROI and Professional Usability Testing

Charles Mauro of Taskz will be publishing the white paper, "Professional Usability Testing and ROI For Web-based Products and Services." on soon and has subjected the paper to informal peer review. The paper explores, in detail, on-line and traditional lab-based testing methods and their impact on ROI for mission-critical web development projects. If you would like to send feedback to Charles, please contact me and I will forward his email address to you or you can post comments here as well.

HTML Wireframes and Prototypes: All Gain and No Pain

Julie Stanford writes about using HTML for prototyping in Boxes and Arrows.

Mention the use of HTML for wireframing or prototyping, and some information architects and interaction designers frantically look for the nearest exit. In some circles, HTML has acquired the reputation of being a time-consuming, difficult undertaking best left to developers. This is very far from the truth.

2003 predictions

Prognostication Digitalis: Boxes and Arrows authors make predictions for 2003. I refrained from making any. Well, maybe there's this one from me: Apple will continue to get cooler and Miscrosoft will continue to be more unfriendly.

We stand poised to dive into the new year. What will 2003 hold for the profession known as what we do and its children, information architecture, usability, interaction design, interface design, and graphic design? We asked our authors to hazard a guess.

Alertbox: Return on Investment for Usability

New Alertbox on ROI.

Development projects should spend 10% of their budget on usability. Following a usability redesign, websites increase usability by 135% on average; intranets improve slightly less.

Why ROI Doesn?t Work (part 1 of 2)

Glenn Gow talks about ROI in this two part series on Marketing Profs.

Many technology companies have developed Return on Investment (ROI) tools for their sales organizations. But while many have developed some type of ROI tool, very few would claim that they are winning significant business as a result. Here's why most approaches to ROI-based selling don't work, and provides a seven-step process to make it work in your company.

Apple Safari browser

Wow. Apple has developed a web browser for OS X. Safari is available as a public beta at the moment. It has the same feel as the other iTools. Coolest feature for me is spell checking in form fields. Right click on words see correct spelling. Can underline in red words that spelled miscorrectly. Yippee! I just hope they implement tabbed browsing like Mozilla browsers. I hate having to open new windows.

Will post links to reviews as I find them in the news aggregator. Currently being discussed at:

* Dive into Mark
* web graphics
* 7nights

Patterns of Cooperative Interaction

Matt Mower's blog pointed to the Pointer site. I'm spending a little time reading the Patterns of Cooperative Interaction, which discusses patterns for cooperative systems.

Web-based Card Sorting for Information Architecture

Lou pointed to this paper about WebSort, a web-based application developed at Brigham Young University for card-sorting like IBM's EZSort.

We have devloped a web-based interface which allows designers to do electronic "card sort" studies. With it, designers can provide descriptions of features for which they'd like users to provide labels and to "sort" into categories. The results can be used to organize information and services access for "interface" design.

How Do People Evaluate a Web Site's Credibilibility?

On the AIfIA Members list, Christina pointed to this report by Consumer WebWatch that presents the results of a study on Web site credibility. The report finds that information structure is the second most important aspect of a site for determining credibility following design.

Scientists redesign the 'back' button

A very badly written article in covers this research project at the University of Caterbury, NZ, which is proposing a temporal model for back button browsing. The paper, Pushing Back: Evaluating a New Behaviour for the Back and Forward Buttons in Web Browsers (PDF), which is explained succinctly here on Slashdot.

Educating Information Architects

A free chapter of Earl Morrogh's new book, "Information Architecture: An Emerging 21st Century Profession" is available on the Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture site. The chapter titled, Educating Information Architects is available in PDF format.

BBC home page design process

Sweet. Matt Jones has published a document detailing the design process undergone by BBCi to redesign the BBC home page.


Paula Thornton has started a blog called iknovate

Back and forth and back again

Nature is running a story on some computer scientists from NZ who have redesigned the back button. The new design records all the pages you visit in the chronological order not just the pages that you click through.

The way I understand it is; if you click through a bunch of pages then use the back button to jump back 5 and carry on, a conventional browser would lose the pages before you used the back button. The new design would keep a record of all the pages in order. This seems to be a smart move but how users would react to it has yet to be seen, I would like to see trials other than the ones conducted by Cockburn et al.

Sex in politics

The visual design of the navigation in Salon implies that sex is a sub-category of politics. Perhaps it was designed in the good old days when American presidents proved their manhood in other ways than bombing infidels -- which seems to be all the rage these days.

Year-end wrap-up

Must be that time of year, since two usability-related year-in-review pieces came out yesterday:

Both are actually fairly level-headed and practical. Most of these things should be common knowledge for most IAs, but it's nice to see them summarized (and, in Nielsen's case, illustrated). HFI also has footnotes to all the relevant research, which is very useful for those ubiquitous “I'm looking for research that supports my opinion that ...” questions.

New WAI reccomendation

The W3C have made the user agents accesability guidelines into a reccomendation. What this means in practice is that most browsers and other programs designed to access web content will be required to meet the reccomendations in order to conform with local accesability laws. This will almost certainly apply in the EU and US. Hopefully this will force more use of WAI standards, allowing content providers to use newer standards with confidence.

BC Vickery up for grabs

I Found a facsimile of Brian Campbell Vickery's Faceted Classification Schemes on Alibris. It would be truly excellent if someone could get the Vickery books (or excerpts of them) to be repro'd at a place that delivers. I just ordered a loan of this one from my corporate library.

Diving more deeply into facets

How do you say faceted classification in Italiano? Classificazione/indicizzazione a faccette. One of the small facts I've culled out of the faceted classfication list.

Discussion is heating up a little and Kathry La Barre is dropping science on us. The great advantage in having PhDs and doctoral students discussing on the list is that a thorough understanding of the facet analysis and classification literature can inform practice. Already there is a great need to really define and understand what facet analysis is, what facet classification is, how they are done, etc. This is one case where I think it is necessary to be pedantic because I fear that misunderstanding of the terms may result in incompletely executed implementations that call themselves faceted classification systems. Before we start to throw these terms around liberally in meetings with decision makers, we should be sure we know what we are talking about and be able to answer the most basic as well as the more difficult questions about what facet analysis and classification is and how it will positively effect the user experience.

As someone who thought himself to have a very fundamental understanding of these concepts, the discussion of facet analysis and classification in the past year has done more to confuse these concepts than to clarify them in my opinion, and for that reason, I am glad that this new list was created. There seems to be a great desire to get the outcome of facet analysis -- the browsable faceted interface like Flamenco, but there hasn't been a lot of discussion about how the method of facet analysis takes place. The terms have not even been defined clearly enough in my opinion. I have heard them defined and discussed well in presentations, but we need the terms and the methodologies to approach facet analysis better summarized in accessible articles that can help practicing IAs.