guuui.com: The interaction designer's coffee break

guuui.com is new to me. The site, started by Henrik Olsen in Denmark, offers daily postings and quarterly articles about interaction design.

Thanks, webgraphics

Supporting Multiple-Location Users

Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, May 26, 2002.

About half of the users now access the Internet from more than one location. Despite the implications of this for service design, many systems assume that users remain bound to a single computer.

IBM list of User Engineering deliverables

IBM lists the deliverables of their 'User Engineering' process on their Ease of Use site. Deliverables listed by phase and by role...

Developing an Online Form

This recent article on the usability.gov Web site is about: "Creating an online form can present developers with many challenges. This case study reviews how a paper-based form was taken through the usability engineering process to develop a functional online version. We discuss the steps in planning and research, prototype development, test design, and the usability test results."

Using Usability to Direct KM Systems

According to this Intranet Journal article, Using Usability to Direct KM Systems, "Knowledge management has much to learn from its older cousin, usability. In fact, usability provides many useful starting points for structuring and managing knowledge management projects. Most importantly, user-centred design efficiently and comprehensively identifies the business problems that need to be solved by knowledge management projects".

Google Graph Browsers; Related-pages browsing

This Google Graph Browser uses the Google SOAP API to build a visual Graph of page-relations.

(please bear in mind that the current applet is only a draft version and they are working to fix some bugs and limitations)

Based upon the Vanilla-vista, a project to envision and implement compelling, useful and/or enlightening visualizations of the Vanilla snip/link structure, as well as on TouchGraph, a great Java framework for creating dynamic graph visualizations developed by Alex Shapiro.

How is iChat "user friendly"???

At Apple, they're announcing some improvements to Mac OS X, many of which sound quite wonderful. But this iChat client looks ridiculous. Apple is having trouble distinguishing between "user friendly" and "user stupid."
On their Jaguar info page (Jaguar being the codename of the new version of OS X) you can see a screenshot of iChat, a new IM client that is compatible with AIM. Beyond the fact that it's kind of amazing they got AOL to even agree to this, you'd think that they would take advantage of it with a usable interface.
This is supposedly "user friendly"... a stack of photographs with cartoon bubbles popping out of their mouths.
I really want to be able to use this thing, because I want a non-AIM client for OS X that I can also transfer files with, but this thing is hideous. I hope we can just turn all that stuff off and have a nice, clean, lean interface like Adium.

Netscape re-heats browser wars

According to InfoWorld, Netscape is hoping to get back some market share with Netscape 7. The Preview Release is out with the nice Mozilla features has offered (tabbed browsing for instance, which Opera has done for a while) and a few new features like a "higlight-click-search" tool and built in net radio. We'll see if they have what it takes to take back share at this point.

Web Users Crave Familiarity

Nick Usborne, in MarketingProfs, says "as much as we may hate to accept it, originality is usually the enemy of a smooth customer experience."

    The sad truth is, general Web users would love it if all our sites looked like Amazon.com. They'd immediately be familiar with the interface, they would know how to find what they wanted, and they'd find it a breeze to check out and complete the purchase.
He's talking specifically about customer familiarity with the language you use and with the interface you present on your web site. He thinks that moving your navigation to the right or using non-standard labels for objects like the home page link might cost your users some time and frustration. He says, "I don't have figures to prove my point, but my guess is that conversion rates drop off whenever you give a reader reason to pause." Figures would help make the argument convincing.

The economics and ABCs of indexes

Abstract of Montague Institute article on using Alphanumeric indexes of terms and cross references. Full text available to members only.

By giving users a familiar, browsable structure of terms and cross references, the A - Z index eliminates a major frustration of full text search engines -- the inability to formulate an effective query. More than just a finding tool, the index is an intellectual product in its own right, capable of shedding new light on a subject. The value of an index varies with the time value of the user, the number of users, and the frequency of use. The cost is modest compared to the total cost of a professional book. The economics of indexes are harder to calculate on a corporate intranet because the benefits to specific users are harder to pin down. From a quality control and cost/benefit point of view, it's easier to index departmental collections and then integrate them into a corporate taxonomy

Internet navigators think small

Internet navigators think small: Researchers study how communities change the Web. MSNBC.com article says Small-world online communities reflect the structure of the wider Web -- but they change the way people use the Internet, researchers say.

    Scientists who have mapped out the structure of the World Wide Web are focusing increasingly on the smaller picture: how it is that online villages coalesce. Such research can help you hook up more easily with the information and people you’re looking for — but they could also help marketers and politicians figure out more easily where you’re coming from.
Google Labs

In this economy, it's amazing that Google can experiment with technology so much. I love the Google Labs, where they showcase ideas that aren't ready for prime time. Most of their ideas are quite good. The glossary example, for instance, is quite nice. A search for "information architecture" brings up a few of our IA definitions and a few of the systems architecture definitions. Google Sets is also quite interesting. It creates sets of items based on a few sample sets you give it. I'm still trying to figure out what it is doing exactly, but it seems like some kind of cluster analysis using proximity of terms.

First Impressions on the Internet

According to this author of this Web Developer's Virtual Library column: First Impressions on the Internet "First impressions are very important in today's world. Such initial thoughts can determine whether we like someone from the start, whether or not we want to purchase a particular car, whether or not we like the house a realtor is showing us, and whether or not we get a particular job. It is also true that first impressions mean a lot when people look at web sites"

Dilbert on Interface Design

I know that linking to Dilbert comics is not, shall we say, the hippest thing around, and I'm sure there's plenty that apply to any and every business situation, but this Dilbert comic from May 11 is one I guarantee that we'll all see in at least one UI-related presentation in the next year. (Of course, this is probably all-too-often the management's solution to usability problems, and by "this," I mean both closing their eyes and wishing real hard, and also inserting Dilbert comic strips into presetations.)

Why someone should be in charge of your website

Gerry McGovern makes a case for clear management structure and putting someone in the hotseat, rather than letting it fall to a committee.

If your website is important to your business it needs to be managed professionally. Unfortunately, websites are often designed and managed by committees. Everyone is in charge which means that nobody has control. This results in content that is of uneven style, tone and quality, and an information architecture that is muddled and inconsistent.

http://www.gerrymcgovern.com/nt/2002/nt_2002_05_03_in_charge.htm

Analysis of heterogeneous datasets in social sciences: ReseauLu

The ReseauLu Project, done by Andrei Mogoutov (AGUIDEL, Paris, France) is devoted to the challenge of applying data mining and text mining methods to datasets in the social sciences. ReseauLu software finds patterns and relationships in data by using statistical and network analysis techniques. In addition to algorithms, the software has features to simplify the graphical representation of the data structures. The software simplifies the integration of analytical algorithms and visualization tools with database technology.

The ambition of the project is to provide for empirical research in social sciences analytical methods and software for treatment of heterogeneous data in the same framework:

- relational and survey data: surveys, network-oriented interviews, socio-technical networks and techno-economical networks;
- time-dependent data: biographical interviews and surveys, institutional history, professional mobility data;
- lexical analysis of texts, semantic content analysis, socio-semantic networks are applied for textual data - qualitative interviews, open questions of surveys and collections of texts.

Additional information and related topics can be obtained at the web site www.aguidel.com

Architecture as Metaphor

Found this study, Architecture as Metaphor done through Bell Labs some time back. They investigate how legitimate Architecture is as a metaphor for what software "architects" do.

The article sheds a lot of light on the current discussion IA's are having about just what their role really is.

Keep in mind that the study is NOT including "designers" of software or web environments, and certainly doesn't include usability engineers or information architects. These are straight-out software developers (programmers, etc.). So, when they say aesthetics and GUI aren't part of their job, it's a very realistic reflection on the typical programmer point of view.

If you take this study and map out the differences or gaps between "built" architecture and "software" architecture, it's pretty clear that the few strong differences between them are rendered moot by the advent of more public shared information environments; i.e. the Web, where so many structures have to be considered aesthetically, for example. This is very different from the prior realm of the software engineer: database number crunchers and call-center-info screens, etc. The paradigm is shifting now because of interconnected, interdependent systems rather than standalone applications.
One shock for me was seeing that Context was not an issue the software architects even considered. I'm so firmly entrenched in Contextual Design that this really surprised me.

Tablet PCs

Tablet PCs are hitting the news again. Small form factor tablets will have 2 to 3 times the battery life of a laptop and cost you around $1,000. Microsoft tells eweek their new OS, Windows XP Tablet Edition, might arrive next year, and new company OQO is already promoting their hardware.

OQO's Ultrapersonal Computer is a new device with a small form factor between the size of a PDA and a subnotebook (think e-book size). The tablet is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, but has a decent sized screen and a full OS. OQO is run by ex Apple folks.

Ontology research and development. Part I - A review of ontology

This article will interest some people, but is not available online.

Journal: Journal of Information Science, v28n2, 2002, p123-136
Author: Ding, Ying; Foo, Schubert

Abstract:
Ontology is an important emerging discipline that has the huge potential to improve information organization, management and understanding. It has a crucial role to play in enabling content-based access, interoperability, communications, and providing qualitatively new levels of services on the next wave of web transformation in the form of the semantic Web. The issues pertaining to ontology generation, mapping and maintenance are critical key areas that need to be understood and addressed. This survey is presented in two parts. The first part reviews the state-of-the-art techniques and work done on semi-automatic and automatic ontology generation, as well as the problems facing such research. A second complementary survey is dedicated to ontology mapping and ontology evolving.

Election Issue Tracker

The Election Issue Tracker is server-side software that queries newspaper databases daily to track the press resonance of political party platform issues, in the run up to the elections. One of the outcomes of the tracker is to identify the 'press-friendliest issues' and the 'press-friendliest parties' (on the basis of the relative press resonance of the each party's issues).

The interactive tool is watching the race and displaying attention to political issues. It's also ranking the parties on the basis of press attention to their issues.

But does press attention to party issues have any anticipatory value?

Eventhough the elections are over here in the Netherlands, still interesting as it shows the last weeks, and the fact we are making versions for other countries and their period of elections.