July 19, 2015 2:27 PM
Cure for Tech Frustrations
August 28, 2009 8:13 AM
Someone should probably sell these. (via Swiss Miss)
Tuesday Tab Sweep
August 18, 2009 3:36 PM
Nine Essential Characteristics of Good UX Designers - Passion should be a the top of the list.
Book review: Wrench in the System by Harold Hambrose – Might be a good read for the executive in your life who hasn’t yet seen the light.
Refreshing Three HCI Laws: If you’ve never heard of Fitts' Law, Hick's Law, and the Power Law of Practice, here’s a quick recap.
Front End Concerns When Implementing Faceted Search - Part 1 - Daniel Tunkelang, Chief Scientist at Endeca, walks you through implementing a Faceted Search.
Managing UI complexity – An interaction designer discusses the various techniques he’s used to reduced the visual complexity of the application he’s designing.
Restarting the New Zealand Calendar of UX Events
July 20, 2009 11:23 AM
I’ve been talking to a few Auckland-based User Experience (UX) folk recently - discussing how we can better connect, network, learn and be inspired.
In my talks, I’ve noticed that not everyone is necessarily aware of all the various UX-related events already happening in Auckland, so I thought it would be a good idea to restart my UX Calendar of Events.
The UX Calendar lists each event individually, but here’s a brief overview of what’s already happening in Auckland:
- Auckland Web Meetup - John Ballinger & friends organise a great event, typically with 3 speakers each time, so there's usually at least one topic of interest. And there's free beer and pizza, and drinks afterwards - good opportunity for networking.
- Auckland UX Book Club – Two books successfully discussed so far, and the group is growing. Thanks to Peter Grierson for kicking this off this year!
- Auckland Pecha Kucha – Initially started by the Architecture crowd in Auckland, but topics vary and provide a great insight into how other creatives work and think. I love the format: 6 minute presentation means you never get bored.
- Girl Geek Dinners – Monthly dinners for the more geeky women amongst us, but I’m sure they’re welcoming to everyone...
- DINZ run occasional events, such as Designers Speak Plurals. The next one is in Auckland on 29th July. Looks like a great line-up of speakers.
- YMedia are currently running the YMediaChallenge.
- Design Assembly put together an evening of talks and discussion for Graphic Designers four times a year. The next one is on 30th September.
- There are even rumours of an upcoming TEDx event in Auckland (Oct 1?). More info shortly.
Let me know if I’ve missed any…
Stalking Your Users: How to Conduct User Research in the Real World
July 10, 2009 10:35 AM
As part of the Webstock Master Class series of workshops, Alex Wright will be presenting a workshop on 'Stalking Your Users: How to Conduct User Research in the Real World' on Wednesday 19 August.
Some links of interest…
July 7, 2009 5:40 PM
- Articles in NZ press advocating user-centred design = GOOD: Introducing user-centred web design – Computerworld
- Free online book on search interface design by the doyenne of (faceted) search: Search User Interfaces - Marti Hearst
- Stephen Few reviews Connie Malamed's Visual Language for Designers: Visual Business Intelligence - At Last, a Scientific Approach to Infographics
- "One of the most interesting and exciting phases of the AppLab work was the rapid prototyping”: Grameen’s AppLab comes of age - Build it Kenny, and they will come...
Bibliography of multi-touch interaction research
January 23, 2007 12:07 PM
Given the recent interest in multi-touch interaction following the announcement of the iPhone, I thought I would point to Bill Buxton's brief history of multi-touch interaction research. There's also some background in the Fastcompany interview of Jeff Han.
Best Interaction Design Blogs 2006
December 5, 2006 11:22 AM
Building web apps: don't start with the home page
November 28, 2006 10:32 AM
Great advice from Cameron Moll over at Authentic Boredom - When building web apps, don't start with the home page ....
Interaction Design in Europe
November 28, 2006 10:26 AM
Convivio - the European Network for the Human-Centered Design of Interactive Technologies - has kicked off a series of interviews with leading voices in the field of human-centred design. Interviews will feature people from all over the world, but with an emphasis on European voices (and I'm biased, but it's wonderfully refreshing to have a European perspective on all things HCI).
The first interview is with Jan Chipchase, Principal Researcher at Nokia, who maintains a photo-blog at Future Perfect.
The second interview is with Adam Greenfield, author of Everyware: The dawning age of ubiquitous computing.
Adam finishes with some great advice for designers who are interested in getting involved with 'ubiquitous computing':
"[...] I’d imagine that getting comfortable with user observation and ethnography, contextual inquiry, and other techniques for the qualitative understanding of the experience of use will stand you in good stead. And if neither of these two suggestions appeal, about all I can say is sit just where you are - because it seems fairly likely to me that some kind of Everyware will come to you."
In a related vein, and also from Europe, Nat Torkington blogs about his conversation with Matt Webb, who works for creative design consultancy Schulze & Webb.
The perfect wall for information architects
November 24, 2006 5:18 PM
Ooh - this post-it notes wall works for me. Can I get it in orange?
Usability Man sighting in London
November 14, 2006 9:33 AM
November 9, 2006 10:40 AM
A few usability posters to brighten up your cubicle and celebrate World Usability Day next week:
- The original UPA poster, Designing the User Experience
- Experience Dynamics' The Importance of User Experience (the image is also on flickr)
- Netlife Research's Bad Usability Calendar
- and a few World Usability Day posters
Designing Web Applications - Structure and Flows
November 8, 2006 9:06 AM
User Interface Engineering (UIE) have released a 54 page report called The Designer's Guide to Web Applications, Part I - Structure and Flows . It's US$35 - but there's a free chapter available for download.
I've read the free chapter, and it's very good. It helps conceptualise how most web applications should be structured - useful if you're struggling to envisage how screens should 'flow' from one to the other.
In a similar vein, there is Bob Baxley's Task Flow for Web Applications, part 1 - Views & Forms and Task Flow for Web Applications, part 2 - Wizards & Guides.
Two great events in Auckland for World Usability Day
November 7, 2006 3:43 PM
There will two events in Auckland for World Usability Day on Tuesday 14th November.
At lunchtime, we will be making some (visual) noise with some red balloons in the streets of Auckland, highlighting good and bad examples of user experience.
In the evening, Shona Bishop, GM of Marketing & Business Development at the Bank of New Zealand, and Natasha Hall from Trade Me will be talking about how they've introduced usability into their organisations.
Find out how you can get take part in the events calendar.
I'm hoping for lots of people at lunchtime (and in the evening too, of course). We've ordered 100 balloons so there should be enough to go around....! Don't be shy - come along!
World Usability Day 2006 and Making Life Easy
October 27, 2006 3:37 PM
World Usability Day 2006 is only 20-odd days away on Tuesday 14th November.
UPA Auckland is putting the finishing touches to what promises to be an evening of great speakers and activities - more details anon.
In the meantime, here's another great opportunity for you to get involved in World Usability Day.
The aim is to get people to make some noise about the things that make their life needlessly difficult.
Confusing cash machines, unclear signs, frustrating websites - poor usability is everywhere and it gets in the way of life. Sometimes it is just annoying. At other times it stops us doing what we need to do.
World Usability Day and MakingLifeEasy is about promoting the value of user-centered design, and every user's right to ask for things that work better.
I'm thrilled about both initiatves and have contributed a few of my Auckland pet-peeves to the project. Here's how you can get involved too:
1. Help get more people involved! If you have a blog, give us a shout out and send people to www.MakingLifeEasy.org to participate. If you have a Flickr account, join the Making Life Easy group and invite all your friends!
2. Share your examples of the best and the worst of usability where you live (or visit or holiday!). Add photos to the group and your submission will be added to the website and potentially to the Hall of Fame or Shame.
3. Cast your vote! Take a look at the website and have your say in what *really* drives you crazy and what you really love.
'Usability Techniques' Workshop Slides and Notes
August 3, 2006 7:26 PM
Here are the presentations slides and notes for the workshop I gave to TCANZ members this month.
TCANZ Workshop - Usability Techniques: Slides (zipped PDF, 4MB)
TCANZ Workshop - Usability Techniques: Workbook (PDF, 240 KB)
Usability Techniques Workshops
July 11, 2006 6:15 PM
The Technical Communicators Association of New Zealand (TCANZ) has asked me to run some Usability Techniques workshops at the end of the month.
Full details and registration at the TCANZ website: http://www.tcanz.org.nz/Events/Workshops/UsabilityWorkshop2006.htm
I'm really looking forward to running these workshops. I'm aiming to make them as practical and hands-on as possible. There'll be some "theory" of course, but mostly I want to give participants the opportunity to practice some core usability/user centred design methods.
We'll create some user profiles (personas), carry out a card-sorting exercise, develop some paper prototypes and practice running some usability evaluations.
If you are thinking of attending the workshop, feel free to leave a comment as to what would make the workshop really useful and relevant for you.
The Future of UK marketplace for usability services
March 27, 2006 5:51 PM
Ashley Friedlein, CEO of E-consultancy.com, about the future of the UK marketplace for usability services and how he expects usability agencies to evolve.
Fonts & Typography for the Web
December 9, 2005 9:48 AM
Richard Rutter of Clagnut has launched his The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web - a practical guide to web typography, based on Robert Bringhurst’s classic book The Elements of Typographic Style.
Richard states that it is a "work in progress. I am adding to the site in the order presented in Bringhurst’s book, one principle at a time. You can subscribe to an RSS feed for notification of new additions."
I am looking forward to the next installments.
Intranet Review Toolkit
December 2, 2005 9:17 AM
This toolkit provides intranet managers and designers with an easy-to-use method to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their intranets.
While I don't necessarily agree with all of the guidelines (or applying them blindly without considering your specific circumstances), it's a good starting point to get you thinking about the various aspects of your intranet.
Web 2.0 Reference Center
November 16, 2005 8:34 AM
Handy reference site pointing to all the essential technologies and concepts for understanding the Web as a Platform: Web 2.0 Reference Center
Auckland World Usability Day Celebration
November 1, 2005 1:01 PM
As part of World Usability Day, the Auckland UPA invites you to Open Your Eyes to Usability:
Ever felt frustated, confused or lost when surfing the web? Ever wondered how your visitors really 'see' and experience your website?
If so, join us for an evening of activities designed to increase awareness of usability and user-centred design.
Presentations will include "Internet Usability", and a live usability evaluation of a popular website. You will also be able to view examples of eye-tracking research, and experience how blind people 'see' your website using screen readers.
A number of usability experts will be on hand to give advice on any aspect of usability.
Plus: Remote Control Shootout! How many buttons are there on your remote control? Do you know what they all do? How many do you actually *use*? Bring your remote control along and help us find the worst offending example of poor design and usability. We have spot prizes for the best (the worst?) examples.
This event is being organised as part of the first World usability Day, with more than 70 events planned in 35 countries around the globe, starting (naturally) in New Zealand. Visit www.worldusabilityday.org and be amazed by how many people, places and groups are taking part. Come along and be part of the celebration.
Date: Thursday 3rd November
Time: 6.00pm to 8.0pm
Venue: Bank of New Zealand, 3rd floor, 125 Queen Street (Map showing location of building - but we are on the 3rd floor)
Cost: Free - Drinks & nibbles will be provided so please register so that we can order enough wine! And don't forget your remote!
Please RVSP to email@example.com
Tom Peters interviews Jason Fried of 37 Signals
July 10, 2005 9:20 AM
Software-Bases Usability Labs
July 7, 2005 8:05 AM
Harry Brignull has put together a comparison of software-based usability video labs
Morae and VisualMark are part of a new breed of software-based Usability Video labs, that run on your plain vanilla PC or Mac. What makes them special is that you don't have to buy any new hardware, you just install the software, grab your webcams and other bits of kit off the shelf and off you go. Also, if running on a laptop, you are highly mobile and can carry the lab around in a bag that wont break your back. Plus you never have to look at another tape, scan converter, or sit around digitising content ever again.
(via City of Bits)
Designing grid systems
July 7, 2005 7:46 AM
Mark Boulton has started an excellent series of articles on designing grid systems: Five simple steps to designing grid systems
The grid is a regulatory system which pre-empts the basic formal decisions in the design process. it's preconditions help in the structuring, division and ordering or content. I'm not saying a well designed grid will solve all of your compositional problems, far from it, but it goes some way in creating a coherent structure in design which in turn creates the aesthetic values all of us are after in our designs.
(via design Principles)
AJAX: Use only as indicated
July 7, 2005 7:22 AM
More good conversation over at Asterisk about AJAX: AJAX: Your Take
AJAX offers us some nice options when it comes to user interface. The yellow fade technique, to site an example, is neat, simple and useful. However, as with any technology it should be used only when it’s needed. Well, unless you’re just messing around with it of course. Start with the problem, then apply the solution and all that.
Usability of University Websites
June 23, 2005 8:32 AM
The Guardian reports on a usability study of UK university websites:
As universities begin to gear up for this summer's Clearing season, when they hope to field inquiries from thousands of candidates still without a place, a piece of market research shows just how out of touch many of them are. They are, in a word, too academic, full of swaths of information that leave web-surfing students bored and irritated. That is the verdict, at least, of a company that sat down two groups of first-year sixth formers and asked them to find information on university and college websites."
Don't Click It
June 17, 2005 6:43 PM
AJAX Interaction Demos
June 13, 2005 7:18 PM
More on the opportunities and interaction challenges of AJAX via Jeffrey Veen.
Jeffrey points to the work of Bill Scott of Sabre Airline Solutions who have put some code and demos online at OpenRico.org.
By the way, if anyone is doing this kind of work in NZ, get in touch. I'd be keen to get involved from a usability and interface design perspective (as in: I'd be happy to offer my services for *cough* free in return for a good case study).
The danger of too many features
June 13, 2005 2:57 PM
What if instead of adding new features, a company concentrated on making the service or product much easier to use? Or making it much easier to access the advanced features it already has, but that few can master? Maybe what they lose in market share in one area will be more than compensated for in another area. In a lot of markets, it's gotten so bad out there that simply being usable is enough to make a product truly remarkable.
Accessibility - Myths and Misconceptions
June 2, 2005 6:29 PM
There are so many things I would like to address about accessibility, and I will get round to it eventually, but in the meantime here's a good roundup of the issues, and some good reference sites: Accessibility myths and misconceptions (456 Berea Street).
One of my favourite resources to better understand the issues (instead of focusing on scoring items off a checklist) is Skills For Access: the Comprehensive Guide to Creating Accessible Multimedia for E-Learning
ROI of user-centred design
June 2, 2005 6:06 PM
The following article is a nice little case study demonstrating the value of using a user-centred approach to software development. The Return on Investment (ROI): 90% less calls to the support centre, and as the articles describes:
No matter how trivial, every support call has some costs associated with it. Installation should be easy, and initial use should be intuitive."
The bottom line [...] is straightforward: focusing on the design of the product had a significant impact on the cost of supporting the product.
Of course, there's a very positive sales benefit to this, too: ProtectionPilot's UI design has already generated favorable reviews in the U.S. and Europe, with ease of use a common theme.
Read the article: Clean, Cutting-edge UI Design Cuts McAfee's Support Calls by 90%
Potential User Interface Issues with Ajax
May 29, 2005 10:03 AM
More on Ajax Interface Design: AJAX Interface Design
...and a list of potential user interface issues with Ajax: Ajax Mistakes
Usability Implications of Ajax
May 28, 2005 2:49 PM
Ajax, and the pile of techniques and technologies that get lumped in with it, are all about breaking that page-by-page web experience into smaller chunks. If the traditional web was letter writing, Ajax is instant messaging.
Innovation through people-centred design
May 13, 2005 1:54 PM
The UK government Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Global Watch Service provides funds to assist small groups of technical experts from UK companies and academia to visit other countries for short, fact finding missions. And this is their latest report: Innovation through people-centred design - lessons from the USA (PDF - free registration required).
I guess you could argue that the local Department of Trade and Enterprise is doing something similar, but in reverse: bringing the likes of IDEO President Tim Brown for the upcoming Better by Design Conference in March 2005 (people-centred design, design-led business - we're all fundamentally talking about the same thing...)
The difference between the alt and title attributes
December 9, 2004 9:32 AM
456 Berea Street provides a good summary of the difference between the alt and title attributes
Alt text is not meant to be used as a tool tip, or more specifically, to provide additional information about an image. The title attribute, on the other hand, is meant to provide additional information about an element. That information is displayed as a tooltip by most graphical browsers, though manufacturers are free to render title text in other ways.
Bridging the gap between User and Business Goals
December 3, 2004 9:32 AM
Keith Robinson expands on his ideas about bridging the gap between User and Business Goals in a new article over at Digital Web.
Once you’ve altered your process to help align business and user goals, look for ways to show the value of your efforts in business terms. You can start slowly by holding a postmortem with your client and/or stakeholders to discuss how the project went. Gather success stories that show how user-centered design actually helps meet business goals and go out there and evangelize those to the people who count.
Best Software Essays of 2004
December 3, 2004 8:58 AM
Joel Spolsky is editing a new book: a collection of the best software essays published anywhere - on the web or in print - during 2004. Nominations are now closed, but the list will make for great Christmas reading.
Work in Progress
December 2, 2004 9:30 AM
I'm making some changes to the website today, so some things might be broken.
Please check back later if things do not work as they should.
Creative Design in New Zealand
December 2, 2004 8:44 AM
Microsoft today announced that New Zealand-based Ambient Design Ltd, creator of ArtRage, is the $100,000 grand prize winner of the Microsoft(R) Tablet PC Does Your Application Think in Ink? contest, a competition challenging developers to utilize the Windows(R) XP Tablet PC Edition Software Developer Kit (SDK) 1.7 to create new applications or ink-enable existing Windows XP-based applications.
Read the full press release.
Designing Navigation Systems
November 26, 2004 3:44 PM
[...] hierarchies come in many guises and are present nearly everywhere: you find them in applications, hypertexts, Websites, portals, operating systems, or data collections. For example, files on a hard disk, documents in a Website, functions and options in an application, as well as a computerized part list can be organized as a hierarchy. Despite this ubiquity, many users are not as experienced with hierarchies as some developers might believe; in general people have problems understanding and using hierarchies, which are essentially an abstract notion and not a "real life" object.
(via Adam Kalsey)
How and Why People Use Camera Phones
November 26, 2004 8:35 AM
Microsoft has researched How and Why People Use Camera Phones. One of their conclusions:
(via UI Designer)
Design Checklists for Online Help
November 26, 2004 7:57 AM
Usability: Business Needs AND User Needs
November 2, 2004 4:10 PM
Keith Robinson talks about the challenges of marrying both the business needs of a website (e.g. branding) with the more tangible user needs (e.g. getting a task done):
One thing that came up last week was the challenge of being able to meet all of the users needs. We work with companies who are trying, much of the time, to satisfy business goals that relate to marketing and branding. Sometimes it’s not clear exactly how tangible user needs relate to those goals as they are often more tied to what I’m calling emotional needs.
Read the full post: Meeting a User's Emotional Needs
Make it Simple
November 2, 2004 8:00 AM
The economic costs of IT complexity are hard to quantify but probably exorbitant. The Standish Group, a research outfit that tracks corporate IT purchases, has found that 66% of all IT projects either fail outright or take much longer to install than expected because of their complexity. Among very big IT projects—those costing over $10m apiece—98% fall short. (The Economist)
Achieving a strategic advantage through user centred design
October 22, 2004 5:54 PM
So what is UCD and why should NZ business start to take serious notice? UCD is both a philosophy and a process that places the end user at the heart of the design process.
Read the rest of the article.
(from the latest designindustry newsletter).
Usability & Web Forms
October 16, 2004 1:12 PM
A sample chapter from Defensive Design for the Web: How to improve error messages, help, forms, and other crisis points by Jason Fried and Matthew Linderman.
Getting creative with use-cases and scenarios
October 15, 2004 2:30 PM
An entertaining insight from Adam Greenfield in the latest Vodafone Receiver magazine in which he argues that use-cases may not always predict the myriad ways in which new technology will be 'perverted' by users...:
The use cases I've seen at work over the last ten years invariably start with a neatly conventional circumstance ("Jill wants to buy a new ringtone") and end in a similarly pat fulfillment ("Jill successfully downloads and installs the ringtone").
I have never seen a use case that starts with a proposition like "Greta wants to sneak out and meet her lover Patrick, without making her husband Bertrand suspicious." Or "Kenji wants his private contact information to be more available to his close friends than the random boys he picks up clubbing." Or "Claudia wants to IM and play games on her computer at work, while making it seem as if she's busy getting things done.""
A basic problem with use cases, and the entire product development mindset in which they are embedded, is that they generally fail to anticipate the larger social context inside which all technology exists.
Greenfield concludes that use-cases are still valuable, but would like to see a "more robust appreciation of everyday life and its foibles". Some creative brainstorming is required. Straightforward use-cases based on existing functionality, or on how *you* think users will interact with the product, may mean that you miss out on some innovative functionality. Go beyond "Jill, the housewife" and "Bill, the businessman". Instead, try creating use-cases and scenarios for "Juliette, the jilted lover", or "Bevan, the office bore".