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Off the top
Signal vs. Noise
Danger's new hiptop mobile communicator demo (flash 4, ~1mb) uses [apparently] mocked up screens to walk through different usage scenarios.
The scenarios flow quite well, with just a few glitches (like the full laptop screen photo produced by the camera accessory). At the same time, I've worked with clients who just don't make the leap between lo-fi prototype to final product...can a low fidelity mockup translate into consumer understanding of the experience? How well does it work as a marketing tool, instead of a feedback/conceptual tool?
Part Four in JJG's IA Recon discusses the "credibility gap" the field faces - why aren't our informed professional opinions given more weight? One reason suggested by Jesse: our emphasis on research methods instead of actual architecting.
The HIDP Project aims to "invite and educate the two separate, yet equally important fields for graphic design and programming in ways of communicating and solving mutual problems." Nice goal, though the "human interaction design" bit tricked me into thinking I was in the target audience ;)
FutureWave founder & Flash inventor Jonathan Gay tells all - well, at least some of his personal history with Legos, architecture, a Visio precursor, and pen computing. Full of gems within a sometimes wandering autobiographical glimpse into the creation of a tool millions interact with daily.
Jesse James Garrett's third installment in his IA Recon series. JJG flexes his journalistic prowess in a not-to-be missed call for the IA field to mature beyond a constant dependence on research. My favorite quote: "But by fusing information architecture with research, we risk corrupting our process and undermining the very credibility we seek."
Tribal Customs looks at IAs contrasted with editors - both responsible for structure, but IAs focused mostly on information retrieval while editors have a broader swath of possible goals for their publications. Don't miss it.
with a UK usability consultancy. Besides the usual "why is usability important" questions, the interview has some great points - I particularly like the questions and Steve's responses about selling usability (and they largely apply to IA/UX/UCD too) - and don't miss the True Purpose Of The Web: according to Krug "In fact, it can be so great for getting information, sometimes I think the real purpose of it is to settle bar bets!" ;)
OK, not so random, just thought I'd share some of my recent wandering:
to the lovely mouthful: Designing Information Representation. ;) Though giving into sensational title temptation he goes on with great points about Shannon (you do know who Claude Shannon is - don't you? ) and some of the challenges we face in the User Experience field.
ASIS&T Bulletin article from David Robbins. Though defining IA as "the design of user experience for Web-based environments" (broad enough? ;) this article is a good example of traditional organizations trying to adapt to the changing market. Interesting ideas on mapping existing LIS classes to IA skills, and a list of links to some IA course offerings.
Check out the article at Interface Mafia
"There were too many companies that had the perfect solution for a problem that did not exist, or a sales strategy for a market that was saturated. Having the latest state-of-the-art technology is wonderful, but as a friend of mine always asks, Who is going to buy the darn thing?"
The author's marketing perspective is something we often miss in the IA community (while he overlooks contextual user research in his suggestions, there's good things to consider).
Microsoft researchers comparing remote web-based usability testing with lab testing observed that for web-based tests "task completion rates suffered, with 20% of specified tasks abandoned before completion."
Which makes me wonder - anecdotally, of the hundred or so participants I've worked with over the past year, they all try harder than I expect when I'm observing. Maybe lab-based testing inflates completion rates compared to actual use.
Admittedly the study lacked decent controls, so these results are very preliminary. More details are in the short article posted on Usability News.
Another WDVL article - Readability on the Internet is definitely worth printing. Unfortunately IAs often focus on high-level architecture and overlook the impact of the actual content. But as part of the whole user experience, content plays a central role. As champions for the user we need to make sure that well-written content accompanies our killer site architectures.
Web Developer's Virtual Library has an article on Usability and Web Forms that discusses pros and cons of different HTML widgets and includes tips for good forms design.
Thanks Usability News.
This week's Dilbert strips chronicle the joys of having the world's most innovative design firm hired by a pointy-haired boss.
While Dilbert isn't for everyone, I find it fascinating when Scott Adams brings up IA/UX material in the strip, and wonder how many average Dilbert fans even know an IA or UX person...
Look for these strips to introduce a multitude of PowerPoint presentations in the coming conference season...
Not to be missed.
Well done Collection of usability methods, checklists, guidelines, etc.
What if you could attend for free, online?
The University of Baltimore's Yale Gordon College of Liberal Arts announces a new degree in Interaction Design and Information Architecture. The M.S. degree is admitting students now for matriculation in January 2002. For more information, visit the IDIA Web site.