Software-Based Usability Labs

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

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

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.