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Usability
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Nuclear launch website slammed for More-than-three-clicks-interface | Feb 15, 2001 | The website interface to the nuclear arsenal of the USA is to be completely re-written from scratch following an assessment by usability guru Jakob Nielsen last week. “...by far the worst crime committed by the designers is, says Nielsen, 'the fact that it currently takes seven clicks to launch an all-out nuclear attack on an enemy nation. I mean, who the hell designed this thing anyway? An infinite number of monkeys? Have they never heard of the Three Click Rule? I honestly thought I'd put an end to this kind of idiocy when I published Designing Website Usability, but apparently I needn't have bothered.'”

Empowering users through user-centred web design | February 6, 2001 | “In theory, the web is the ultimate user-empowering environment. In practise, the very opposite is often the case. Many web sites fail to empower users and in fact frustrate and confuse them because although they offer the promise of information, services or goods at the mere click of a mouse button, they are difficult for people to use. Problems associated with the use of web interfaces are too often wrongly attributed to user incompetence, when in fact it is poor design that is to blame.” Thanks LucDesk.

Are Users Stupid? | February 6, 2001 | “Opponents of the usability movement claim that it focuses on stupid users and that most users can easily overcome complexity. In reality, even smart users prefer pursuing their own goals to navigating idiosyncratic designs. As Web use grows, the price of ignoring usability will only increase.”

suspect device: the v-2 usability rants | February 4, 2001 | “Starting from the position that nothing helps clarify good UI design better than examining bad UI design, we're launching suspect device as a place to do just that — with the caveat that nobody involved has any professional background in industrial design, interface design, or anything of the sort. What we are, quite simply, is people who use stuff.”

Guideline dogma | February 2, 2001 | “Nobody would deny that usability guidelines, applied in context by a usability professional, are extremely valuable in guiding a website evaluation. The problem occurs when non-professionals apply these guidelines out of context. This can result in an unimaginative site that looks bland and homogenous. To design usable sites that truly engage customers we need to replace simple guidelines with a customer-centred design process.” Thanks LucDesk.

Developing Schemas for the Location of Common Web Objects | February 1, 2001 | “An essential ingredient in constructing the content of a website is knowing the typical users' mental model or 'schema' for the characteristic location of web objects on a website. Knowledge of this schema and constructing a site that reflects this should aid in the site's accessibility. This, in turn, should produce more accurate and faster information retrieval, as well as greater satisfaction with the site. However, little is known about the average users' schema for the location of web objects on a typical website.”

User-Centricity | February 1, 2001 | “User-centricity constitutes a philosophy to support the design of digital media applications. It draws on and applies theory from product design, human-computer interaction, branding and marketing. User-centricity places the needs of the user at the heart of design.”

Healing the Web | January 31, 2001 | “Environmentalists often encourage participation in their cause by saying that you shouldn't feel the need to heal the planet all at once, all by yourself; if every person picked up just one piece of trash every day, think about what a clean, beautiful world we'd live in. The Internet needs that same spirit: If every Website fixed just one frustrating usability problem each day, think what a beautiful World Wide Web we'd live in.”

Measuring User Experience | January 24, 2001 | “We've all seen the stats. Almost half of a site's visitors go elsewhere due to poor navigability, slow download times, or confusing content. If users have problems on your site, they jump to competitors en masse. Fortunately, there are several useful ways to evaluate user experience.”

Jakob Nielsen on e-learning | January 16, 2001 | “Just how important is usability in e-learning? We ask usablity guru Jakob Nielsen on this and other wide-ranging issues. '...given that people are just not willing to read so much — I think it leads to a completely different approach to learning on a computer than learning in a traditional environment.'”

Are you ready for usability? | January 5, 2001 | “I am a big fan of usability testing as a way to help make web sites easier to use because it gets straight to the point of looking at what real people actually do with your carefully crafted web site. Unfortunately, I think that there is a reluctance with many people to give usability testing a whirl...” Thanks Makovision.

The user experience | January 3, 2001 | Includes three articles by Dick Berry, User Experience Design, IBM Ease of Use team. The first is The iceberg analogy of usability. The second is It's a matter of style — GUI versus the Web. And Part 3 is Using controls in forms.

Creating a user-driven development process: in web time | December 29, 2000 | “The growth of e-commerce and business-to-business (B2B) applications, customer relationship management, and clickstream analysis has created an unprecedented emphasis on knowing who our users are and designing usable applications. However, backing corporate commitments to usability with a user-driven web application development process is a challenge. Designers find themselves struggling to design new applications from the ground up, defining web UI standards as they go, all the while under pressure to deliver applications to the market in 'web time.'”

6th Conference on Human Factors and the Web | December 29, 2000 | “The purpose of these conferences is to provide a forum for sharing information among a community of human factors engineers, designers, and developers who are interested in producing web sites that are more useful and usable.” This link features the proceedings of the conference, held June 19, 2000.

Usor | December 14, 2000 | “This web site contains descriptions of different user oriented methods. These descriptions are not meant to be exhaustive descriptions that you could use right after you have visited this web site. They are rather short summaries with references to more thorough descriptions of these methods. The purpose of this web-site is to encourage the usage of user oriented methods in both industry and research projects.”

Usability Log | December 14, 2000 | “Usability, mehr als ein Keyword, aber auch nicht der heilige Gral für Qualität. Es liesse sich über (un)endlich viele Begriffe endlich viel sagen; letztendlich haben wir nun zum Thema Usability einen eigenen _Weblog eingerichtet, um den Anforderungen an Aktualität und direkter Kommunikation Rechnung zu tragen. Thematisch möchten wir damit den breiten Bogen spannen, der Fragestellungen des Interface- und Interaktionsdesigns den Anforderungen an Usability (die es herauszuarbeiten gilt) gegenüberzustellen.” I don't know what that says, but the weblog is in English!

Marketing vs. Usability | December 14, 2000 | Warning: Online PowerPoint presentation (short). “What we do is all about communication, right?”

Accessibility & Usability for e-Government | December 8, 2000 | “Government web sites will need to be easy for all citizens to use, including those with a disability, so universal accessibility is a crucial issue in their design. This paper is intended as a primer for public sector officials who are responsible for or otherwise involved in the creation of web sites. It will tell you: *Why you should be concerned about accessibility; *What targets and legislation apply to you; *What accessibility is and which disabilities it concerns; *Some common accessibility problems and their causes; *What you need to do to develop an accessible web site.”

UXblog | December 8, 2000 | xblog? uxblog? A new weblog that focuses on the “User experience in the context of emerging technology and advanced business strategy... UXblog at hannahodge.com will focus on issues relevant to those of us working in the space where people, emerging technology and advanced business strategy intersect.” Hey! That menu looks kinda familiar too!

universalusability.org | December 7, 2000 | “universalusability.org provides the definition and foundation for the topic of universal usability in addition to introducing researchers and practitioners to five perspectives on universal usability. Universal usability involves understanding how users attempt to accomplish tasks using a variety of technologies in different organizational and social contexts. And researchers and practitioners have a wide range of approaches and methods available to apply to this range of user-system interactions.”

When Kids Use the Web | December 2, 2000 | “A Naturalistic Comparison of Children's Navigation Behavior and Subjective Preferences on Two WWW Sites: This paper reports the results of scavenger-hunt usability tests conducted with 16 adolescent children (8 males and 8 females) in two age groups (12 years old and 16 years old), using two general-interest topical Web sites. The tests yield comparison data regarding both search performance and self-reported subjective preferences.”

Usability Is Good Business | November 30, 2000 | “Research shows that improving the usability of software systems — including information-technology (IT); e-commerce; 'shrink-wrapped' and other commercial software — can be highly cost-effective... The rule of thumb in many usability-aware organizations is that the cost-benefit ratio for usability is $1:$10-$100, that is, for every dollar spent implementing usability techniques, the organization will realize a benefit between $10 and $100.”

The art of interface design: What usability really means | November 29, 2000 | By Raymond Pirouz: “When you stop to think about all of the unique disciplines that need to work in harmony to create a solid, usable, and attractive interface, it's no wonder that the Web is filled with so many horrific attempts at interface design. Too many Web developers assume that interface design is nothing more than decorative 'button-making.' In reality, the term 'interface design' is fundamentally the humanization of the non-human — the creation of an easy way for people to seamlessly interact with complex objects or technology. Its roots lie deep in computer science, industrial design, cognitive psychology, ergonomics, audiovisual design, animation, and graphic design.”

Macromedia - Flash Usability | November 28, 2000 | “Create the ultimate user experience with Macromedia Flash. Macromedia is working closely with the design and development community, and usability experts to provide suggestions we think will help you create highly engaging user-focused sites. Our goal is to empower the community to keep redefining what the Web can be and build cutting-edge sites that provide the best user experience.” Thanks CamWorld.

ITG Newsletter: Internetworking | November 28, 2000 | “This is the newsletter of the ITG (Internet Technical Group). It is a place to publish web usability research, opinions, reviews and a wide variety of other items of interest to ITG members. In keeping with the spirit of the ITG, Internetworking will be free of charge and will be available only on the Web.”

Web Design and Cognitive Clinical Interview | November 21, 2000 | “With standard usability tests, investigators are usually able to answer 'how' performance is executed. For example, investigators record a user's flow of behavior. However, the question of 'why' is often left only indirectly answered (e.g. by think aloud approaches) which can lead to faulty interpretations of data. The cognitive clinical interview can be used to attain direct answers to both how and why users perform tasks as they do.”

The Butterfly Effect | November 21, 2000 | “Jakob Nielsen, Bruce Tognazzini, Brenda Laurel, and Don Norman are recognized as four of the finest information designers in the world, and are currently on a 'world tour,' dubbed The Main Event, giving talks and conducting seminars in the U.S., Europe, Japan, and Down Under. In a wide-ranging discussion on topics from the butterfly ballot, to computer interfaces, to the best and worst aspects of the Web, the foursome — joined by HotWired Style author Jeffrey Veen — brought some much-needed methodology and meaning to the madness.”

Collecting Feedback About Your Website's Search Interface | November 21, 2000 | “It's crucial for websites to provide search interfaces that are available, simple, and productive. This article gives basic instructions about how to test your website's search interface for usability.” By Jakob Nielsen and Kara Pernice Coyne. Thanks PsyberSpace.

Web Guru: It's the User, Stupid! | November 17, 2000 | “Jakob Nielsen doesn't like the current state of Web design, and he isn't afraid to say so. 'If you are going to go and buy something on a new website, you will fail. If you go to a new website, you will not be able to use it. That's the average user experience,' said Nielsen, one of the four 'usability gurus' who make up the core of the Nielsen Group, a collective of forward-thinking tech experts that kicked off a 12-city international tour in New York on Monday.” Favorite quote: “In the future, first of all, websites will be designed by my guidelines ... for the simple reason that if they don't, they are dead.” Yikes!

3.14159, 42, and 7±2 | November 15, 2000 | Three Numbers That (Should) Have Nothing To Do With User Interface Design: “Some numbers are famous. For example, pi is known throughout the world. Other numbers are famous within particular subcultures. For fans of humorous novelist Douglas Adams, 42 is famous as the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Likewise, within the subculture of user interface designers, the most famous number is Miller's (1956) magical number 7±2. More than forty years after its initial publication, Miller's figure is cited in academic literature, at usability-related conferences such as Human Factors and the Web, and more privately, in countless interface design meetings.” Thanks WebWord.

Personalization in learning solutions | November 15, 2000 | What's Personalization anyway? “Answer: There is a lot of information on the Internet and even on company intranets. Finding the right kind of information at the right time gets to be a daily struggle. Personalization is a means to narrow down on this flood of information. Companies that deploy personalization engines offer a service to their customers by catering to their customers needs — offering only the information that the customer is interested in, or might be interested in.”

Adaptive Environments & Universal Design | November 13, 2000 | “Universal design is a worldwide movement based on the concept that all products, environments and communications should be designed to consider the needs of the widest possible array of users. It is also known around the world as design for all, inclusive design, lifespan design.”

Why Usability Testing Matters | November 9, 2000 | Florida county ballot design raises questions about Election 2000: “The result of the 2000 U.S. Presidential race was so close that some Democratic Party officials argue that one Florida county's hard-to-use ballot may have unfairly decided the presidency. Critics argue that some voters in Palm Beach County, Fla. might have accidentally voted for Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan, when they thought they were voting for Al Gore. Gore's name was the second name in the left column; but punching a hole in the second circle actually cast a vote for Buchanan.”

Ballot Usability in Florida | November 9, 2000 | “In the oh-so-close Presidential race in Florida, a major issue is whether some of the votes that went to Pat Buchanan were really meant to be for Al Gore. Larger-than-expected Buchanan numbers in some areas known to have only elderly, Democratic-leaning voters, along with complaints about ballot usability by those people, brought this to national attention.”

Spotlight: Jakob Nielsen on voting booth usability | November 9, 2000 | So Jakob Nielsen doesn't use permalinks. Go figure. See the November 8, 2000 entry. “Kara Pernice Coyne, senior user experience specialist in my New York office, writes about her experience voting in the recent election: On November 7, 2000 at a poll site in New York City, a man came out of a voting booth and told a nearby volunteer, 'I voted wrong. I accidentally voted for the wrong person for president.' He was told that he could talk to a judge about changing his vote. But for now, the vote is counted. I could have easily made the same mistake because the voting booth is not easy to use.”

Adobe interviews Val Casey | November 9, 2000 | “Web design is so much more than usability. As a creative director at Frog Design, Valerie Casey, 28, is in charge of building the digital team at the company's corporate offices. As an instructor at San Francisco State University, CCAC, UC-Berkeley, and at the San Francisco Mayor's Youth Employment and Education Program, she has guided her Web design students into thinking about design as something more than whether a user immediately knows where to click. Adobe asked her about the perfect Web design education, and what makes good Web design.”

What can we learn from Jakob Nielsen? | November 7, 2000 | “The goal of this article is to pick out the most interesting stuff from Nielsen's book, leave out stuff that would be obvious to our readers (e.g., 'frames suck'), and tie Nielsen's material to related ideas.”

Web surfers furious when beloved Back button secretly disabled | November 7, 2000 | “As online businesses resort to increasingly manipulative tactics to win over customers, the controversial practice of using coding to disable a browser's Back button has popped up at mainstream Web sites.”

theweeb.com: articles | November 7, 2000 | A few articles about usability and interaction design. “Usability is probably the most difficult part of the testing process. Without proper screening, the data that you receive from your testing becomes useless. There are several steps to take to ensure a successful test.”

Problems Facing the Usability Community | October 24, 2000 | “Summary: There are problems with usability and the usability community. This article is my attempt to raise some of the most important and interesting issues. In my opinion, usability as we know it is dying. It is outdated, misunderstood, and it faces very serious challenges in web and software development circles.”

Notes on the eCustomerExperience Conference | October 24, 2000 | “Creative Good's (CG) mission is to improve e-business through a pure focus on the customer experience. Members of the CG team are fanatical about their views and I think I am on my way to becoming a fanatic too. While some at the conference accused CG of being heavy-handed against graphic design, I don't think it is true. The key to creative good is that they are strongly and passionately focused on creating a good customer experience. Where graphic design can aid understanding and improve experience, I'm sure the CG team is in favor of it.”

Fourteen ways to fix the Web? | October 18, 2000 | “Here are 14 things that web surfers complain about. This poll is to find out which ones matter most to YOU — if you had to decide which ones should be fixed first, which would you choose?”

NCI Web Site Design and Usability Guidelines | October 17, 2000 | “In a recent study of fifteen large Web sites, users could only find information 42% of the time, and clicked away in frustration. Web sites often fail because of confusing design that involves no user input. It is critical that Web sites be usable, or consumers will look elsewhere. The purpose of this document is to provide Web site design and usability guidelines based on emerging research about what constitutes a usable Web site. It provides suggestions and tips for improving overall Web site design, navigation, and functionality; and it brings usability guidelines together in one place for easy reference.”

The three mirrors of interaction: a holistic approach to user interfaces | October 11, 2000 | “In an earlier work (Buxton, 1986), I speculated on what conclusions a future anthropologist would draw about our physical make-up, based on the tools (namely computers) used by our society. The objective was to point out that these tools reflect a very distorted view of our physiology and the motor/sensory skills... The thesis of this chapter is that we should consider technology in terms of the fidelity with which it reflects human capabilities on three levels: *physical: how we are built and what motor/sensory skills we possess; *cognitive: how we think, learn, solve problems and what cognitive skills we possess; *social: how we relate to our social milieu, including group structure and dynamics, power, politics, and what social skills we possess. Our metaphor is one of three separate mirrors, each reflecting one of these levels. In order to be judged acceptable, designs must provide an acceptable degree of fidelity in how they reflect each of these three aspects of human makeup and activity.”

Why Great Technologies Don't Make Great Products | October 6, 2000 | “The most powerful engineering feats are the ones we don't notice. The real power of engineers and developers is in turning something incredibly complex into something amazingly simple. The automatic transmission in a car represents significantly more engineering work than a manual transmission. The best works of the automobile industry, urban architecture, and consumer electronics express how great engineering is focused on hiding complexity, not reveling in it.” Thanks WebWord.

Flash Usability Challenge | September 19, 2000 | “I do care about developing and providing solutions that augment the customer experience. The key for me is identifying and providing effective, high quality web sites. For me, usability is a huge part of the customer experience. I basically filter every article and email and news posting as either helping or harming the customer experience. In a nutshell, the general usability of web sites is important to me. That is why I am sick and tired of people telling that Flash is great...”

The Importance of Simplicity | September 15, 2000 | “Web sites and software often compete with each other based on the features they provide. The popular assumption is that the more features a product has, the better it will be. The truth is that features improve a product only if they are actually used by the customer. In most cases the proliferation of features in products creates more complexity than value. Each feature gets an icon or a link on a Web site or toolbar, and is yet another item that the user needs to wade through before they can find the one that they need.” Um, hello?

Project Comparisons: Traditional vs. User-Centric | September 9, 2000 | A straightforward graphical comparison of the timelines for an interactive project from two very different perspectives. Thanks Mersault*Thinking.

The Center for Design Process | September 8, 2000 | “The Center for Design Process conducts research into ways of making designing more user responsive. Many designers are primarily concerned with the production of static form and pay little or no overt attention to how their work will affect design users. This approach leads to many incompatibilities between designers' conceptions and user needs.”

Lou Rosenfeld interviews Mark Hurst | September 6, 2000 | “I'd planned to interview Mark Hurst, but an argument broke out instead. Well, not an argument, but a 'spirited discussion' about customer experience and how it relates to (Mark might say squashes) other fields like information architecture and usability engineering. We did a bit of sparring on CHI-WEB, and this interview seemed like a great way to 'take if off-line,' as the list moderators would say. Mark is the founder of Creative Good, and...well heck, let's let him tell his own story.”

Microsoft Usability: Publications | September 1, 2000 | Ha! Take a look at what the Microsoft “Usability” pages looked like to me this morning (IE 5, Mac): 1 2 3. Oops. Thanks antenna.

How user testing saves money | August 4, 2000 | “Iterative design, with its repeating cycle of design and testing, is the only validated methodology in existence that will consistently produce successful results. If you don't have user-testing as an integral part of your design process you are going to throw buckets of money down the drain.”

Aggregating Experience | August 3, 2000 | “Problems delivering User Centered Design ...we must put good User Centered Design aside for a moment, and face the reality that often the designer is asked to wrap an interface skin on to a system. Before the web arrived, this would entail devising a interface on a set of functions. Now this has morphed into a navigation scheme on a collection of content. Content driven design on the web for both wired and wireless web sites presents a much greater interface design problem than earlier function driven design did for GUIs.” Thanks InfoDesign.

Usability vs. Design | July 28, 2000 | “There is an unarticulated war currently raging among those who make web sites. Like the war between dark-skinned blacks and light-skinned blacks in Spike Lee's School Daze, this war is one that only its participants recognize. The war is not between commercial sites and experimental sites. It's not between 'Bloggers' and 'Flashers.' This war is between usability experts and graphic designers.”

Towards a Framework of Interaction and Experience As It Relates to Product Design | July 27, 2000 | “what do we really mean by 'designing the user experience' and how do we use interaction design and product design to achieve user experience goals? Without some firm grounding, we felt that 'user experience' would become simply market-speak, or a stand-in phrase for usability. Our overall goals are lofty — to work towards a framework of how experience relates to interaction and product design.”

Constructing User-Centered Websites | July 21, 2000 | “The Early Design Phases of Small to Medium Sites: Much has been said about the early phases in the design process of websites. However, the majority of this discussion has focused on the communication between the web designer and the client, such as establishing a 'feel' for the wishes and expectations of the client organization. This includes such things as establishing teams that will focus on creating a layout that conveys the desired mood or theme of the client organization. This is a very important concern, but ultimately web designers should first lay the groundwork for producing websites that are considered 'usable' by its users.” Thanks KIPlog.

Some Useful Quality Assurance Terms | July 20, 2000 | “The web — the people who program/design/market it — delights in jargon. Unfortunately, many technical terms have multiple distinct meanings, so I hope this definition list helps sort these concepts out for you.”

Finding blind spots in navigation | July 19, 2000 | “Banner blindness has been well documented, and recently people have been observing users ignore navigation elements as well (think amazon's tabs). So basically you're putting in lots of navigation features, and some of them are being plain ignored. Or are they? Since my boss gave me the funny look when I asked him about getting eyetracking devices, I came up with this method to find out what people actually see/look at on a webpage: I had them draw a picture of the site on a piece of paper after doing a standard usability test.” Thanks glish.

Usability 1st | July 17, 2000 | “Welcome to Usability First. This website provides essential information to help make websites and other software easier to use. Usability FirstTM is the principle that in designing software and other human artifacts, the most important goal is to design for usability — that is, designing products for people that help them do their work in an effective and satisfying way should be the top priority. Usability is the characteristic of being easy to use.”

IBM/Ease of Use/Home | July 12, 2000 | “Ease of Use is about the total user experience. A product's success relies on the users experience from shopping for the product to using the product.” Contains designs, downloads, stories, conferences, guidelines and more.

Testing User Interfaces | July 12, 2000 | “This section of the course will present materials on various approaches to testing user interfaces. While these methods will be presented in the context of testing hypermedia interfaces, the principles and practices you learn should be applicable to a range of interfaces and interface styles. The approaches covered will range from analytical to empirical methods.”

Making sure Usability 'Fitts' Flash | July 10, 2000 | “We Flash designers have to look outside our field for guidelines to help us make out usability decisions. One field that I think can be helpful is interface design, in particular one simple, absolute, and immutable rule of interface design that hold up against the test of time, Fitt's Law (pronounced Fitizez). Flash designers can apply this law to our field because it involves the way people use their mouse (or other pointing devices) to interact with the computer. The designers of your operating system used Fitt's Law to determine how the buttons, menus and other elements would appear and act. Flash designers have much to gain from understanding the applications of Fitt's Law.”

Testing Without a Formal Test Plan | July 3, 2000 | “A formal test plan is a document that provides and records important information about a test project, for example: project and quality assumptions, project background information, resources, schedule & timeline, entry and exit criteria, test milestones, tests to be performed, use cases and/or test cases. For a range of reasons — both good and bad — many software and web development projects don't budget enough time for complete and comprehensive testing. A quality test team must be able to test a product or system quickly and constructively in order to provide some value to the project. This essay describes how to test a web site or application in the absence of a detailed test plan and facing short or unreasonable deadlines.”

Usability Testing of Advanced Web Concepts | July 3, 2000 | “Initial work on the new design was based on a parallel design exercise where six very different Web site concepts were developed and tested with representative users. The most creative of these concepts was probably the 'crystal bowl' home page which is shown here, but many of the other designs were also very interesting. The usability study showed that users were not interested in far-out designs. Instead, they preferred the more straightforward of the designs, including one with plain buttons and small feature story illustrations that eventually developed into the current home page.” bk note: It would help if the far-out designs were also intelligent, and not simply 'far-out' or 'interesting.' And I'll arm wrestle anybody who actually thinks the 'crystal bowl' concept is 'creative' when it's really just a plain stupid and quasi-metaphorical nav that is wholly unsuitable for a web site like Sun's. Thank you. Have a nice day.

Web Site Usability: The Big Picture | July 3, 2000 | “From 'Web Site Usability: A Designer's Guide.' In this excerpt, Spool presents his findings from usability tests with groups of users on a set of nine popular websites. Some of the results may surprise the seasoned web designer.' A year ago, we started wondering what made a Web site usable. We had heard the opinions of experienced designers about what they felt it took to create a good site. We looked at books and magazines that talked about how to make a 'cool' site. But no matter where we looked, we couldn't find any data — based on real user experience — about what it takes to make a usable site. This report is our attempt to start providing that data to web site designers. What Is 'Usability' on the Web? ”

Usability Testing for Web Sites | July 3, 2000 | From the “Learning for the Global Community: Seventh Annual Hypermedia '95 Conference.” This page leads us to Final Report: Design-Research for the Indiana University Bloomington World Wide Web, another old study that I haven't read yet.

User Testing General Audience Web Sites - Advice? | June 30, 2000 | A question from PeterMe. “...The trickiest bit has been developing metrics for what's 'successful.' While I can say that a user can get to a product in X clicks or X seconds, that's not really successful. What's more important, and well-nigh impossible to measure, is what happens afterward. Any pointers/suggestions to usability engineering for the mushier domain of consumer-oriented, content-heavy sites will be greatly appreciated...” Here are the responses: Re: User Testing General Audience Web Sites - Advice?.

Create a Usable Flash Site | June 30, 2000 | “Flash receives a great deal of criticism from usability and web standards advocates, and their arguments are usually valid. What the critics fail to understand is that the designers are usually responsible for the lack of usability, not the program itself. Flash has the capacity to create usable sites, but requires that designers follow a few guidelines.” Thanks WebWord.

Shape and the emergent property of genre in evaluating digital documents | June 28, 2000 | “Navigation is a limited metaphor for hypermedia and website use that potentially constrains our understanding of human-computer interaction. In the present paper we trace the emergence of the navigation metaphor and the empirical analysis of navigation measures in usability evaluation before suggesting an alternative concept to consider: shape. The shape concept affords, we argue, a richer analytic tool for considering humans' use of digital documents and invokes social level analyses of meaning that are shared among discourse communities who both produce and consume the information resources.” Thanks Mersault Thinking.

garden.com: a case study | June 28, 2000 | It's really just a handful bullet points from CHI99 SIG: User interfaces for electronic product catalogs.

Professional Website Usability — 5 Part Series. | June 23, 2000 | “Usability isn't necessarily a new term, but when it comes to how users interact with the Web, it takes on a whole new meaning. Web usability is evolving as we learn more and more about how our users interact with our online information, how they retrieve it and use it, how they want to move on our site, what they anticipate and what they expect within the realm of their experience.” Thanks WebWord.

Hocus Focus Groups | June 15, 2000 | “Good usability testing doesn't involve herding hundreds of users to check out your site. 'Research shows that with four to six users you can determine 80 percent of any problems,' says Fischler. 'Pick the fewest number of people possible — the really big flaws, the truck-sized problems, will be obvious. You'll see those in the first four tests.'”

HCI Lectures | June 14, 2000 | “HCI is a multi-disciplinary field concerned with all aspects of making computer technology as easy, efficient and enjoyable as possible for people to use. HCI is often misunderstood as concerning itself just with the cosmetics of interface design, it goes much deeper than that.” An incomplete collection of lectures from Napier University.

Guide to Usability for Software Engineers | June 13, 2000 | “The Guide to Usability for Software Engineering is a collection of pages created by the University of Maryland, Masters of Software Engineering, Fall 98, Usability Engineering class (MSWE 613) taught by Professor Ben Schneiderman. The collection is intended for software engineers and usability engineering practitioners to find relevant resources on the Web.”

Why user experience disasters happen at the start of web projects | June 12, 2000 | “Requests for proposals for web project describe the desired solution but often lack basic information about the problem that will be solved by the application. To design a usable user experience you have to understand the problem first: who are the future users, what are their current practices and what are their needs? The main barrier to this understanding is that some corporate cultures lack the courage to really listen to users.” Thanks Mersault*Thinking.

Usage-Centered Design Forum | June 9, 2000 | “A forum about putting usage-centered design into practice — ideas, techniques, and tips on applying essential use cases, abstract prototyping, collaborative usability inspections, and the full array of models and methods in usage-centered design. Send us your stuff: problems and solutions, questions raised by the book, and experiences applying role models, task models, and content models to user interface design.”

Frontend Usability InfoCentre | June 5, 2000 | “Any application is only as powerful as the person who uses it. 'Usability' enables the user to leverage the power of any given application in the most effective and efficient manner possible. In the online business environment, usability and intelligent interface design are no longer just desirable — they are a necessity. The Frontend Usability InfoCentre is intended to introduce the principles of usability engineering and provide resources and information for companies undertaking usability engineering projects.” Thanks Mersault*Thinking.

Fitts's UI Law Applied to the Web | June 5, 2000 | “Interface design is difficult in part because everything requires interpretation. A design that works for one task or one user might not be appropriate for another. In other types of engineering, like architecture or bridge building, designers can always rely on laws of physics and gravity to make designs work. There is at least one immutable rule for interface design that we know about, and it's called Fitts's Law. It can be applied to software interfaces as well as Web site design because it involves the way people interact with mouse or other pointing devices. Most GUI platforms have built-in common controls designed with Fitts's Law in mind. Many Web designers, however, have yet to recognize the powerful little facts that make this concept so useful.”

Fill your print cart! | April 27, 2000 | Good idea: “what I needed to do was print out a lot of pages, but not all. I needed to look at lots of pages and print out some. Now, that wasn't too hard (just hit PRINT button), but it would have been nice if each page had had a printable version, with less clutter and only the text. Then I thought, but that would have been a major drag! For each page I wanted to print out go to the print page, print it, and then head back. There have to be better ways. I figured for some sites at least, a printing cart would be handy. Yep, like a shopping cart.”

Suck on 'Usability' | April 11, 2000 | “It's easy to feel sorry for the people who visit websites; unless they've been sitting in on the meetings where blow-dried marketing executives wed brand identity to increased sales of boats and boating accessories, users have no idea that they're only valued for what they can spend at a website, and they're blissfully ignorant of the industry contention that the average web surfer is ... well, ignorant enough to be gulled by pricey ads and shiny graphics. Enter the usability advocate. These noble animals roam the web singly and in packs, putting forth the idea that the folks about to be separated from their discretionary income deserve to do so in the most comfortable manner possible.”

The Usability Methods Toolbox | April 3, 2000 | “I've attempted to compile information about almost all of the methods and techniques (well, ok, a lot of them) used in usability evaluation. I hope you find helpful information here, or at least a pointer to additional information that will help you find what you need.”

A Conversation with Don Norman | March 31, 2000 | From 1995. “What makes for bad design is trying to solve problems in isolation, so that one particular force, like time or market or compatibility or usability, dominates.”

Why You Only Need to Test With 5 Users | March 21, 2000 | “Some people think that usability is very costly and complex and that user tests should be reserved for the rare web design project with a huge budget and a lavish time schedule. Not true. Elaborate usability tests are a waste of resources. The best results come from testing no more than 5 users and running as many small tests as you can afford.”

Jakob Nielsen Answers Usability Questions | March 7, 2000 | “We gathered questions for Jakob Nielsen Monday; here are the answers. Interesting, possibly even essential reading for anyone involved in software or Web site design.”

More Than Screen Deep | March 6, 2000 | “Toward every-citizen interfaces to the nation's information infrastructure: Designing any sort of computer-mediated device for ordinary people for effective and pleasant everyday use has proven to be surprisingly difficult.”

How to Plan, Execute, and Report on a Usability Evaluation | Feb 18, 2000 | “CNET Builder.com walks you through the process of setting up and implementing a usability evaluation. You can conduct user testing anytime in your site's development cycle. Ideally, you'll do it several times during the planning and implementation phases, and then again after launch. These low-fuss tips could be called discount usability. Collecting this feedback doesn't require any fancy technology, and you can gather it from a small-sized sample in about a single day of evaluation.”

London/Amsterdam Seminars on Web User Experience | Feb 18, 2000 | “The world's top five user experience experts together for a full-day event in London and Amsterdam.” April 3 and 7, 2000. Jakob Nielsen, Bruce 'Tog' Tognazzini, Brenda Laurel, Ben Shneiderman and Donald A. Norman.

Constructing User-Centered Websites: The Early Design Phases of Small to Medium Sites | Feb 17, 2000 | “Much has been said about the early phases in the design process of websites. However, the majority of this discussion has focused on the communication between the web designer and the client, such as establishing a 'feel' for the wishes and expectations of the client organization. This includes such things as establishing teams that will focus on creating a layout that conveys the desired mood or theme of the client organization. This is a very important concern, but ultimately web designers should first lay the groundwork for producing websites that are considered 'usable' by its users. That is, users may be enticed by websites that are aesthetically pleasing and promote an interesting mood, but they tend to be far more satisfied and stay with websites that are designed for their use in mind.” Via WebWord.

Designing Web Navigation | Feb 15, 2000 | “Navigation design is one of the trickiest areas of site development. It's tricky partly because it's so subjective — everyone seems to have a different opinion of what works. It's also tricky because it's hugely important from a usability perspective. If your site's navigation isn't doing what it should, you risk losing visitors.”

How Are Your Users Using Your Site? | Feb 15, 2000 | “National Airlines had a mystery on its hands. Its Web site was surpassing forecasts for traffic in the fall of 1999, yet, for some reason, very few visitors to the Las Vegas-based airline's Web site were enrolling in its frequent flyer program. The company and its Web site designers couldn't find an obvious answer for the seeming lack of interest, and began to suspect there was a flaw with the online enrollment process.”

Sitemaps: map the user's experience | Feb 14, 2000 | “My previous article about sitemaps examined what they should be like. The conclusion was: sitemaps need to be complete and show metainformation. The second conclusion was that it's hard to build a good sitemap. In this article I try to focus on the true functions of search engines, navigation and sitemaps.” Also of interest, excerpted from peterme.com: “Cartographerrific! Peter van Dijck wrote me with an interesting development pertaining to how folks navigate a site he's designed: 'I wanted to share some usability testing I've been doing. After trying out several navigation methods, and testing different sitemaps with users, I decided to put a sitemap on every page. This is for a small content site (about 50 or so pages). The surprise was that the live statistics show that the sitemap, even though it is at the bottom of the page, is used for over 60% of all navigation on the site (except of course for the back button, which I can't log automatically.)'” Via peterme.

Usability 102: Cutting the cheese | Feb 11, 2000 | “Joe Clark does not mince words. His incisive style enlightens many, enrages others. We are proud to premiere a new series in which Joe and other tough-minded critics will redefine 'web usability.' Presenting Usability 102. This issue: Once the hallmark of a real web site, user-contributed content may have outlived its usefulness in e-commerce. Is it time to cut the cheese?”

How to Test Usability | Feb 10, 2000 | “The best way to assess your site's design and structure is to test it with actual users. But usability testing is more than just sitting someone down with a mouse and a browser. Learn how to conduct tests that deliver meaningful results.”

Usability Heuristics for the Web | Feb 7, 2000 | By Keith Instone. “Jakob Nielsen's 10 usability heuristics appear [here], with his description in bold and my Web-specific comment following. The overriding theme for applying these heuristics to the Web is to use links effectively.”

SiteReport | Jan 22, 2000 | “...we provide tools and services for website owners and webmasters to enhance user experience. Our services include affordable website evaluation and testing, content analysis, competitive assessments and market research. Website news, tools and reviews keep you up to date with current issues and trends in user experience.”

Usability Is Not Graphic Design | Jan 12, 2000 | “As usability consultants, we're often asked by potential clients to bring in a portfolio of 'screens' that we've designed. But we don't have any, because we don't design 'screens;' we design interaction, the intended behavior by which people will use a product or a web site. These requests from clients illustrate a problem with much of the web site development that's being done today: too often, usability is equated with graphic design. If viewers aren't staying with your web site, then the graphics need to be improved. The site has to be more eye-catching — to 'wow' the viewer.” Via goodexperience.

Information, Architecture, and Usability | Jan 10, 2000 | “What is the relationship between information architecture design and usability engineering? This is a loaded question, and I wade into dangerous waters by addressing it, but the answer has significant implications for a variety of audiences. Consider the following questions: *As a buyer of consulting services for your corporate Web site or intranet, should you retain an IA firm, a UE firm, or both? *As an employer of information architects, should you recruit people with an education in library and information science or human-computer interaction? I contend that the challenge involved in designing usable organization and navigation systems for large online information environments is so important and so complex, that it requires information architecture design specialists with backgrounds in both IA and UE.”

Comparison of Usability Evaluation Methods (UEMs) | Jan 5, 2000 | Covers Think Aloud User Testing; Constructive Interaction; Focus Groups; Expert Review; Expert Walkthrough; Heuristic Evaluation; Heuristic Walkthrough; Guidelines; Guidelines Walkthrough and Cognitive Walkthrough.

Thinking Beyond Web Usability | Dec 28, 1999 | An interview with Dr. Donald Norman, author of “The Design of Everyday Things.” “I asked Don several web usability questions, but he told me that he was not an expert on web sites — that is the domain of Jakob Nielsen. The thing I like most about this interview is that he makes you think beyond web usability. Mark Hurst of Creative Good did the same thing when I interviewed him. While usability is important, it isn't everything. Not by a long shot.”

Predictions for the Web in Year 2000 | Dec 26, 1999 | Oh Lordy. Here we go again. Jakob's list isn't what it's been for the last few years. I sense some hesitancy.

AN OPEN LETTER TO JAKOB NIELSEN | Nov 24, 1999 | “Jakob Nielsen and I have come down on opposite sides of a usability debate. Jakob believes that the that the prevalence of bad design on the Web is an indication that the current method of designing Web sites is not working and should be replaced or augmented with a single set of design conventions. I believe that the Web is an adaptive system and that the prevalence of bad design is how evolving systems work.”

IBM Ease of Use | Archive | "IBM's focus on ease of use has led to technology breakthroughs, advances in design research, and contributions to the practice of User-Centered Design." Information on how IBM is implementing ease-of-use in the new business model, as well as examples and tips, news, information on upcoming events, and downloads.

IBM/EASE OF USE/DESIGN/Web Design | Archive | Information on IBM's User-Centered Design consulting services, and how they can be used to improve e-commerce web sites, user interfaces, and overall web design.

useit.com: Usable Information Technology | Archive | Jakob Nielsen has been writing a bi-weekly column on Web usability since 1995, and all his writings appear here, including great articles on the top ten mistakes of web design, web project management, and how people read on the web. Synopses of and links to studies done on web usage and usability. Lots of great content here, some permanent, some updated daily.

The Jakob Nielsen Drinking Game | Archive | Ha-ha. This was originally written by Steve Champeon and Jeff Veen.

peterme.com | Top 10 Things: The User | Archive | "Top 10 Things to Know and Do in User-Centered Design"

Netcenter | Seven Deadly Sins of Web Usability | Archive | "Gluttony, sloth, and lust are fine sins for most real-world interactions, but sinning on the Web requires special skills. To help you avoid an eternity in the fiery pits, here's a handy guide to the Seven Deadly Sins of Information Design."

Internet Ecologies Area | Archive | "The Internet Ecologies Area's research focuses on the relation between the local actions and the global behavior of large distributed systems, both social and computational. Foremost among these is the Internet. Other examples are provided by distributed information processing, large heuristic searches, ecologies, social organizations and markets."

AskTog: First Principles | Archive | A nice comprehensive article focusing on theories and principles that "are fundamental to the design of effective interfaces, whether for traditional GUI envoriments or the web."

Webmonkey: The Web Isn't for Everyone ... Yet | Archive | The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 mandated that all new public spaces must be accomdating to those with disabilities. Webmonkey argues that the Internet is a public space, and looks at what is being done to make the web useable for everyone.

When Design Is All About the User | Archive | Building a website that will please users while proving profitable for the company is the challenge of any commercial website. Internet World looks at Tripod's site redesign and how they tailored it to meet the needs of their users.

As Simple As Possible | Archive | From the April 1999 issue of Web Techniques Magazine; Terry Sullivan describes "why less is more ... stable ... functional ... compatible..."

UI Design Home Page | Archive | User interface design news, white papers, links and assorted information.

UFUWeb | All free for webmasters! | Archive | No_summary_yet

Web / Design / Usabilty | Archive | No_summary_yet

Site Usability Evaluation | Archive | No_summary_yet

Usability Matters | Archive | No_summary_yet

ClickZ: How My Mom Uses The Web | Archive | No_summary_yet

AskTog: A Quiz Designed to Give You Fitts | Archive | No_summary_yet

Parasite | io 360 research and development | Archive | No_summary_yet

Quality Assurance for Web Sites - philosophe.com | Archive | No_summary_yet

Usability Sciences | Archive | No_summary_yet

The Human Factor, Inc. | Archive | No_summary_yet

Usability, Web site design — WebWord.com | Archive | No_summary_yet

WebMaster - Finding the Way | Archive | No_summary_yet

Usable Web | Archive | No_summary_yet

Improving Web Site Usability and Appeal | Archive | No_summary_yet

All Things Web: The Usable Web | Archive | No_summary_yet

Usability Professionals' Association | Archive | No_summary_yet

Do Metaphors Make Web Browsers Easier to Use? | Archive | No_summary_yet


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