The Web Standards Project

The WASP site is back. They're redirecting their energies toward education, according to Steve Champeon.

While sifting through, I also found their styleguide. I was keeping a list of these for a while.

Directory of glossaries

I'm interested in glossaries lately. Here's two nice searchable directories of glossaries: Glossarist.com and Google Glossary.

Use the Google related content link below to find more.

Personas

Peter pointed to some well-written personas for accessiblity that Mark is writing on Dive Into Mark.

Ontologies

Victor wrote some interesting thoughts about ontologies versus controlled vocabularies and thesauri and how library and information science hasn't quite connected with computer science on the issue of extracting meaning from data and building a system of commonly understood lexemes for representing a body of knowledge. So I am looking more at ontologies in order to understand where the two could/should meet. I've wondered how computer science can attain the sort of understanding of abstract concepts that humans do. I'm not talking about discerning objects/things and understanding the relationship of things to each other, but more importantly discerning hard subjects like love and all the various types of love in passages of poetry ('cause isn't love what life is all about?). Seems like artificial intelligence to me. So seems I can't avoid the topic of ontologies any more since Victor threw down the gauntlet.

Yahoo! redesign

Have a look at the Yahoo! beta. C|net News.com and MSNBC are reporting on the Yahoo! redesign its home page. The News.com article includes a screenshot of the proposed redesign and some neat screenshots of Yahoo! designs through the ages.

The redesign doesn't appear to be too radical a change in layout. Looks a lot like the other popular portals. The big "mantle" box in the left of the screen will serve as their prime advertising space. Apparently the redesign was fueled partly by advertisers, who want more screen real estate on the home page. I like Google's less obtrusive text ads and their directory. At least the centered blocks of text are reduced (thank goodness). It does look cleaner and the lines of alignment make the page easier to scan, but it's still got that characteristic portal noise thing going for it. I like that they surfaced the Mail/Calendar/Addresses links. The icing on the cake for me is that they're using anti-aliased graphics! Holy cow! Check out the logo and the buttons on the top. The web directory subject headings have moved further below the fold, though. And why do we need a search form on the top and bottom of the screen?

Would be nice to have a Yahoo! redesign contest or event. I Googled for Yahoo redesign and found Jamie Wieferman's mock-redesign for his portfolio. Compresses the layout much and proposes a more unified experience (using tabs) between the different Yahoo! branded applications. Jamie has a great site, by the way. Great screenshots of UI specs, great design and icons.

Know of any other Yahoo! mock-redesigns?

Iterative design can be lazy design

Gerry McGovern thinks that iterative design usually means putting off fixes and improvements to iterations in the next redesign. I thought the iterative design process most people take is done pre-release as well as post release. Design/Test iterate ... do this until satisified with test results ... Release ... Test/Design, etc. Perhaps when he talks about design iteration based on post-release feedback, he's thinking about evolutionary design? I dunno.

I wish Gerry would stick to writing about content.

Data dictionary and technical metadata for digital still images

NISO has released a draft of Z39.87, the Data Dictionary for Technical Metadata for Digital Still Images. NISO collaborated with the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) in the development of this standard.

According to the announcement, two overarching goals led NISO and AIIM to develop this data dictionary. The first is to identify the data elements that would be used by applications to control transformations of images against stated metrics (or “anchors”) for meaningful quality attributes such as detail, tone, color, and size. The second is to propose elements that would be used by digital repository managers, curators, or imaging specialists to assess the current aesthetic and functional values of a given image or collection of images. The purpose of this data dictionary is to define a standard set of metadata elements for digital images. Standardizing the information will allow users to develop, exchange, and interpret digital image files. The dictionary has been designed to facilitate interoperability between systems, services, and software as well as to support the long-term management of and continuing access to digital image collections.

Start now: Develop with users

Macromedia article by Jared Braiterman on practicing user-centered design.

Lack of time, resources and knowledge are often cited as reasons for not involving users in site design and development. But hour for hour, dollar for dollar, research and testing with users are the single best tools for creating successful interactive services.

This article, and the accompanying resources, provide you with a starting point for including your users in all phases of site development, including strategy and design. The time to design with users is now.

Thanks, xblog

Alertbox: Reduce Redundancy

Reduce Redundancy: Decrease Duplicated Design Decisions

Summary: User interface complexity increases when a single feature or hypertext link is presented in multiple ways. Users rarely understand duplicates as such, and often waste time repeating efforts or visiting the same page twice by mistake.

Hmmm. I'm not so sure about this one. His first example talks about footnotes and endnotes in Microsoft Word and how there are too many options. I agree that there are a lot of features and it can be confusing to some people, but I don't understand how it relates to the topic. This feature is presented in one way; there is one way to get to this dialogue box, and the features that are available are indeed necessary. (I know many professors and academic journals are very specific about how they would like their footnotes and endnotes to be presented.)

Now, I could be wrong, but I thought redundancy is good. To copy text, for example, you highlight it and then can go to Edit --> Copy, or right-click (or option-click) and select Copy, or Control-C (or Apple-C). Yes, in a way, the complexity increases for programmers because you have multiple ways to perform the same task, but for the user, this redundancy is easier. Some people like using keyboard commands, some like right-clicking, and some use the menu bar for everything.

He does say that “one of the few cases where users actually benefit from a small amount of redundancy is in the navigational paths through an information architecture,” but then adds, “too many cross-references will create an overly complex interface and prevent users from understanding where they are and what options they have at that location.” How many is too many? Is an interface with lots of cross-references — like Flamenco or Wine.com — bad or effective?

MSNBC.com Using Weblogs for Columnists

Apparently the weblogs paradigm is making its way even further into the mainstream. In order to allow its columnists to establish even more immediate relationships & communication with readers, MSNBC is setting up weblogs for them.

This is encouraging. I hope they'll use the blog opportunity to do some real communicating, from real personalities, rather than some kind of PR pump. This move also goes even further toward establishing acceptance for enterprise-based blog communities of practice, which my company is trying to encourage with some of our clients.

Text sizing

Finding a consistent way to render text on web browsers without forcing fixed sizes in pixels is no cake walk. So Owen of Noodle Incident created an incredible collection of screen captures (264 of them!) to show how text is rendered in different browsers on different platforms and using different methods in order to try to figure out the best method for achieving consistency.

Thanks, webgraphics.

How it works: Self-checkout

I haven't blogged any of the info graphics in the NYTimes Circuits section for a while. This one is particularly fun. This Flash motion graphic with audio shows how the process of self-checkout works in a grocery store. The graphic steps you through the process of initiating a checkout session and explains how scanning, weighing, paying, etc. work and how stores deal with theft issues. Really neat stuff. I haven't seen it around my neighborhood yet, but seems like fun.

Taskz's top 10 sites for consumer research and statistics

Taskz.com's latest top 10 list is for Consumer Research and Statistics Sites.

Map of fetishes

Hmmm, here's a racy info graphic. Matt's newsletter pointed to Katharine Gates' map of fetishes (warning: racy material). It's quite nice. Katharine uses boxes and regions to establish categories and subcategories and connects elements with lines to show established links across fetish categories. Clicking on one of the fetish regions in the map will bring up a page with a rich description of that fetish.

If there were a sweeps week for weblogs, perhaps this would be my pathetic attempt to draw attention to ia/ with subject matter. Did you know there is an established fetish category centered around body inflation? You know, like that purple girl in Willie Wonka. Who knew?

XFML, Exchangable Faceted Metadata Language

Peter told me a little about XFML this week. It's being developed as a language based on XML to allow the exchange of specific metadata, e.g. exchanging facets/categories of description between blogs. There is also a discussion group.

Fear of Design

I love Christina's essay "Fear of Design" in B&A. In it she reminds that IA is in fact design. And as designers we defend our design concepts/decisions and necessarily feel the pain when our work is shot down. Go read the discussions, take comfort in your community, feel better about who you are and what you do.

Faucet Facets: Best practices for multifaceted navigation

In "Faucet Facets", Jeffrey Veen proposes that there are better alternatives to rigid hierarchies (i.e. those that don't support multiple parents or broad terms (i.e. polyhierarchy)). Faceted classification being all the rage with IAs these days, he proposes best practices for designing navigation based on a faceted approach.

Veen offers a few examples of search interfaces that offer options based on categories for classifiying products. The Kohler faucet search is a decent one. Different aspects of faucets are presented as search facets. The pool of available faucets is narrowed down based on the selection of descriptors selected under each facet. Veen stresses the importance of allowing your users continual access to these facets in their search process in order to continue narrowing down their results without having to start their search over.

Finding usable and effective ways to surface the classfication fields in a database structure is one thing to consider. When you look at the experimental facet matrix interface of the Flamenco Browser, you see the challenge that a rich set of facets presents. But, in my opinion, creating the metadata schema and developing the facets and terms is the really time consuming and costly stuff.

The faceted approach has been shown lately using products as examples, e.g. wine and faucets. Products are a nice and easy kind of object/entity to use as an example. But taking a faceted approach with documents presents much more of a challenge, especially when it comes to the description of abstract facets such as subject. Descriptions based on observable empirical data should pose little problem (product/document name, date of publication, etc.), but what concerns me is how you enable clients to arrive at facets based on aboutness descriptions -- this is no small task when it comes to documents. Suggesting to your client that a facet-based classfication will aid in the discovery of their objects/entities is a good idea. Giving them the means to classify those objects is another. And perhaps this is where the meat of your services come in. Do you do this work for them or do you give them the means to do it themselves. I guess the approach depends on the corpus of stuff you need to describe and the ability of your client to invest in classification and take on the ongoing task of classifying. I'd be interesting in hearing about people's experiences with enabling clients to do this sort of work.

London Underground Isometrics

On interconnected, Matt pointed to this collection of London Underground diagrams including some nice isometrics. You might have to check back later, though, because the site appears to have reached its download limits.

The Jakob meme

So looking at Michael's recent post about Jakob's report on News.com, I thought 'man - Jakob has been on News.com a lot' Wonder just how much lately? This much.

Now that's interesting - 1 article in 2001, and now 4 in the first half...
Here's the 64 dollar question: Is mainstream media picking up on Jakob? Or on usability and design? The cynic in me mutters that the mainstream media think they're getting usability when they cover the NNgroup...but the idealist in me says that it's better than nothing...