Archive for September, 2006

The return of the son of Friday UX Links

September 29, 2006

We’re back… now, with less context!

…and, we’re outtie.

Hiring renaissance talent

September 28, 2006

In response to a thread on the IxDA mailing list about how job ads seeking “Leonardo da Vinci” (that is, someone who can design, do illustrations, and write code) may be trying to pack too many requirements into a single req, Dave Rogers posted a link to an article her wrote nearly a year ago for gotomedia,
The User Advocate: One Size Fits None?, in which he writes:

I also recognize that the “one size fits all” designer is how the Web was won. Because the visual nature of the early Web was transformative, it was natural for visual designers to take the lead. Already savvy users of computer design tools, they added some straightforward HTML skills to their palettes and hung out their shingles. Pioneers are always generalists.
But those days are long past. The settlers have moved in, cities are rising. As business leapt into the Web with its show-no-mercy requirements, the gaps in the early Web designers’ skills-notably in interaction design (IxD), usability engineering and information architecture-became increasingly evident.
Specialists began to emerge. Requirements analysts. Usability specialists. Interaction designers. And information architects.

We’re hiring like mad right now and I’m wrestling with some of these same issues. I gave up trying to find an IA who was also good at functional requirements, specs, and use cases (although “back in my day” we did all those things while walking uphill in the snow against the wind both ways) and now I’m looking for separate individuals: an IA/user experience expert and a tech writer / spec writer.

Class consciousness in web design

September 27, 2006

Chris Fahey is in the middle of publishing a series of blog posts on the topic of class and web design. (In part two, he asks What class are you?.)
Interesting topic (and somewhat taboo, here in the States, at least).

Get-rich-quick blog spam

September 27, 2006

It’s been interesting to watch the evolutionary dance of spam and blogs. Comment spam. Trackback spam. Splogs. Now here’s a bit of email spam targetting the would-be pro blogger:
>I don’t like to waste valuable time of creative blogmasters.
>But I cann’t resist myself from this tempting offer too.
Hello, you may know me from such spam as “Nigerian dictator’s family” and “v!agra!”
>Here is the one time offer.
>6 great Components
>1) Blogging to the Bank + Update – $47
>2) Blogging Videos – $97
>3) Monetizing Your Blog Interview – $99.95
>4) The Underground Blogging Reports – $147.77
>5) Blog Announcer Pro – $97
>6) Article Assistance – $67
>Total Value $555.72
>Available today for $147.
>A must have tool for every blogmaster
>Here is the link http://redacted
>One Time Offer Marketing Team
>PS: 30 Day Zero Risk, No Hard Feelings 100% Money Back Guarantee
>PPS: (Sales Pitch)
>Blogging Super Affiliate Becomes A New Dad And Drops His Guard To Reveal The Hidden Secrets To Earning Up To $1860.11 Per Day From FREE Blogs And Even Hands You His Underground Software To Make It As Easy As 1-2-3…GUARANTEED
>Now You Can Use My Exact Blogging System To Drive Thousands Of Extra Visitors To Your Websites, Affiliate Promotions Or Adsense Pages And Explode Your Income In Under 30 Days…Even If You’ve Never Made A Single Cent Online
>Watch the Tricks I Used to Swap my 9-5 job…
>… for a part-time web business that pays full-time income.
If you can watch movies & click your mouse you can do this.
Weak *and* sad.

Jared Spool on 'embraceable change'

September 25, 2006

Last year, Jared Spool wrote an essay about a disruptive intranet redesign in which he used the analogy of finding your well lived-in home entirely changed on waking up one morning (Designing Embraceable Change). In it, he discusses how to make it easier for people to embrace changes in their information spaces:

To design for embraceable change, the design team has to be well aware of the existing Current and Target Knowledge points, as well as the new points. Field studies are the ideal technique for learning the existing points, whereas usability testing will give a detailed understanding as to whether the new design has an acceptable knowledge gap. These two techniques are essential for any team who needs to tackle this difficult problem.

Survey results for third edition of the "Polar Bear Book" published at the IA Institute site

September 22, 2006

Over the last few months I’ve posted notices here whenever Lou Rosenfeld and Peter Morville (the legendary authors of the first two editions of O’Reilly’s Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, aka the Polar Bear book) have announced another survey for their third edition.
Now the IA Institute has published all of the survey results.

Reuters grant underwrites NewAssignment.Net budget

September 21, 2006

Here’s Jay Rosen’s announcement of a $100,000 grant for his NADN project: PressThink: Editing Horizontally: Thanks to Reuters, NewAssignment.Net Can Hire Someone
My first thought was, “This sounds like a job for George,” but George already has a job….
I like that Rosen wants to have both a paid editor and a paid “network wrangler” to pull off this “pro-am” journalism experiment.
As I disclosed last time I posted about this, I am an advisor to this project. Rosen was in SF recently to do some brainstorming about the NADN website. I wasn’t involved in that meeting (it sounds like it was a very fruitful meeting) but I did have a chance to get together with Jay over dinner last week and I’m very excited about the potential of this project to catalyze an evolution in journalism beyond how it’s currently practiced.
More on this when I have time to reflect and write.

Interactive CSS reference

September 21, 2006

File under useful: CSS 2.1 Reference : Cultured Code

Maps for the masses, now with custom stylin'

September 21, 2006

Tracy Rolling, the community advocate for (“the people’s atlas) recently sent me a heads up about a new styling feature for the DIY maps that Platial makes it so easy to, er, make.
And, by the way, I think it’s kind of cool that so many of these new companies have community outreach people, even if it is still sometimes hard to tell them from publicists or PR professionals in general. They usually seem to understand, though, that I’m a sucker for people who’ve read my book or follow my blogs or both and say they like my writing. Still, I won’t blog about anything! I’m not a total flattery whore.
OK, so back to Platial. Tracy demos the new feature in her own blog, The Sputterly Utter, and describes the service and the process like so:

Platial, the website which allows people who don’t know what an api is to create their own Google mashups, has just launched a new feature called Mapstyler. Now you can build your own map and then give it a custom style for publishing on your website or blog.
People can also upload their own css files and custom markers, to have their way with Platial maps and integrate them into their blogs and websites.

Note to Woody: Investigate for Bikr?

The case for real-looking wireframes

September 20, 2006

In Boxes and Arrows, Stephen Turbek suggests making wireframes look as realistic as possible, and argues that the old idea of clearly distinguishing wireframes from design is actually counterproductive (Real Wireframes Get Real Results):

How many times have you been asked, “So, is the new website going to be black and white too?” after presenting your wireframes to a client or a usability test subject?
This question is almost a traditional part of being an information architect. Wireframes do not clearly define what they mean to convey, leading to confusion. This is most apparent in wireframe usability tests with users who don’t know anything about the project or process. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps that will make wireframes be understood by anyone. They don’t even have to be much more work. It’s simply a matter of choosing to “get real” from the start.

Now, here at Extractable we prefer to do usability tests with prototypes, so we don’t have that specific problem, but I have tended lately toward dropping in the client’s actual logo, using their brand colors and generally making the wireframes look more realistic and my anecdotal experience so far is that clients do prefer that to utterly abstracted grayscale featureless wireframes full of lorem ipsum and x-boxes indicating where the images should go.