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A List Apart
Brightly Colored Food
City of Sound
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Digital Web Magazine
Dive Into Mark
Guide to ease
Joel on Software
Noise Between Stations
Off the top
Signal vs. Noise
OK/Cancel has started a blog aggregating publicly available job postings found on mailing lists and websites. You can email them with new job listings and the job listings are available as an RSS feed. Here are the types of jobs they expect to post:
Adaptive Path's Simple Solution series of reports is the first widespread commoditization of user experience practice...and it's worth thinking about what IAs and others should do in a world where $49 buys the fix to a common problem.
This week Adaptive Path launched their new reports. The star of the launch is a free report - Jesse's analysis of U.S. presidential candidate sites. Upcoming reports on Search, CMS, and ROI will make a profound impact in different circles.
But the reports that will have the biggest impact are the two small ones already available from the AP Simple Solutions series - Boutique Software Sites, and Registration & Login. For $49USD, you buy 5 or 8 pages with some explanation, site structure or flow, and wireframes. Forty-nine dollars buys you an IA solution based on design patterns, best practice, and AP's experience. How to integrate that solution or develop your own is something UX practitioners will need to face in the coming months.Update:I should just add here that this is a good thing. Commodity comes from maturity, and our practice is growing up. There's plenty of other more worthwhile things to do than reinventing the basics of registration.
This full-day workshop focuses on the link between information architecture and content management. Presentations by the industry’s leading experts and relevant case studies will provide attendees with well-grounded knowledge and numerous opportunities to participate. Special emphasis will be placed on the integration of IA knowledge and deliverables into the CM process.
Update: Early registration extended for the workshop and the IA Summit - new deadline January 31st! You'll save $75 on the workshop, and $100 on the conference by registering this week. Also, AIFIA members get in with membership pricing on the Summit.
The Information Work Productivity Council are an independent group of companies and academics that have joined together to study the issue of information work productivity and profitability.
The Information Work Forum, sponsored by the Information Work Productivity Council, brings together academia, industry and government to discuss productivity as a key factor in achieving global competitive advantage; demonstrate how companies can maximize business performance and profitability through Information Work strategies; and showcase technology solutions and services that help companies achieve the greatest ROI to achieve maximum productivity. Information Work is the act of creating, using or sharing information as a part of a business process. Combined with new information technologies and tools, information work is structurally changing labor markets, business and economies around the globe. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics there are roughly 100 million information workers in the U.S. alone. Any broad-based improvements to information work productivity could lead to substantial benefits to both the economy and society.
The program is coming together with outstanding speakers - it's hard to pick which sessions to go to.
The pre-conference workshops on the 27th offer a range of options too. For IAs involved in content management, AIFIA is sponsoring a workshop on errr... Content Management for IAs with a roomful of incredibly smart CM people who will share their insights - from the Content Management Bible's Bob Boiko to Managing Enterprise Content's Ann Rockley and lots of others.
BayCHI presentation from Oracle's Daniel Rosenberg puts common ROI approaches through the wringer. The thing that stands out for me is that ROI calculations don't include any consideration of the end user - if the product costs more to own, but the company makes back its money faster, then ROI suggest that this is the right decision - even though long term sustainability might be compromised.
In the IA community we're fond of findability. It's a simple conceptual hook that lets business grok a key aspect of our work. However, findability also sets some arbitrary boundaries for the practice, and runs into challenges once we move beyond single web sites. Taxonomies and facets just don't scale across the web as a whole, and struggle to be globally relevant in cross-disciplinary enterprises like General Electric.
It makes most IAs cringe to think about automatic categorization tools. However, it's also the inevitable future of large scale findability efforts - no IA superhero can manage billion-document findability from traditional top-down or bottom-up approaches evolved to address site level issues.
Automated classification and semantic analysis is important for people who plan IA careers lasting into the next decade. We don't all need to become Autonomy drones, but it's worth keeping a finger on the pulse. One interesting project that is going to go commercial with Factiva is IBM's WebFountain. WebFountain is also different than many alternatives because the idea is to build a platform for findability - letting other people build modules that tailor the WebFountain base for particular uses. While most of us don't have to deal with enterprise architecture and beyond today, staying relevant in the future will require us to understand the issues at play. Rather than dismissing the advance of machine categorization and semantic analysis, we should be prepared to take advantage of new tools that further findability and ultimately the user experience.
William Denton has released a well written paper on faceted classification for the web, created for the Faculty of Information Studies at the University of Toronto. Here's a bit about what you might expect to learn:
This paper will attempt to bridge the gap by giving procedures and advice on all the steps involved in making a faceted classification and putting it on the web. Web people will benefit by having a rigorous seven-step process to follow for creating faceted classifications, and librarians will benefit by understanding how to store such a classification on a computer and make it available on the web. The paper is meant for both webmasters and information architects who do not know a lot about library and information science, and librarians who do not know a lot about building databases and web sites. The classifications are meant for small or medium-sized sets of things, meant to go on public or private web sites, when there is a need to organize items for which no existing classification will do.
On Rhizome, Marcos Weskamp points to "Social Circles" (requires Flash), a mailing list social visualization tool. Not sure if it's art or a serious attempt at creating visualization software, but the product is interesting. It interacts with mailing list archives, plotting messages as they happen by linking people to threads and showing, I think, either frequency of referrals to a user's original postings or frequency of postings by that user by enlarging the size of that user's representation on the diagram. Use the drop down menu in the upper left corner to pick a different list -- Flashcoders seems to be pretty active. Then press the "Play" button to watch the recent posts get plotted. Would be nice to see better filtering options in this application, e.g. ability to focus on related nodes either by thread or by starting with specific users, linking to/viewing messages. It's hard to understand the context of the relationships here. The "Display object" function shows subject headings, but the text is illegible when superimposed on over other nodes. Interesting nonetheless.
Every year there are more user experience books than I have time to read. This list includes both books I've read, and books I hope to. If I missed a book (published in 2003) that you think I should include, drop a line in the comments and I'll add it.
Condensed design wisdom for capital 'D' Design. Outstanding.
Seminal collection of HCI/Engagement thinking. The academic reference for peeps who want more than "good experience needs to be engaging" platitudes.
In May 2002, Don Norman posted to CHI-WEB looking for beautiful and usable designs. A year and half later, this book brings together his thinking about the importance of emotion in design. Destined to be a classic, and hopefully help drag the old skool "ugly boxes everywhere - but it works" HCI crowd into the 21st century.
I like Peter's book. It's visual in a way that other IA books aren't, and that connects to a certain crowd in a way that another chapter on facets just won't. Recommended for quick illustrations of IA to others.
Alan Cooper enlisted Robert Reimann's help with this sequel. It's a good overview of Cooper's process, but leaves out a lot of detail that I wished was there, particularly about persona creation. Still very useful as an introduction to interaction design, and a reference for particular situations. Most of the examples focus on application development. If you've read About Face 1.0, you'll find some repetition, but there's enough new material, and updated past material to make it worth the money.
Carolyn Snyder takes her years of experience with paper prototyping, and makes them available here. Very cool. I'm still not convinced that the effort to make complicated paper widgets to simulate interaction is worth it for most web sites. Where paper prototyping rocks is in managing expectations - seeing polished mockups or even clickable wireframes can give the illusion that the project is farther along than it is. If you deal with people thinking the project is ready to launch after seeing a design comp, paper prototyping is just the ticket.
Adaptive Path's Mike Kuniavsky brings together a lot of thinking on user research, with a lot of attention to usability testing, rounded out with other common techniques, from focus groups to ethnography. Solid how-to advice can provide a platform for actually going out and actually studying users.
Brenda Laurel brings together a stellar cast to cover a wide range of design research methods and issues. With any edited volume, the quality varies with each chapter - but overall it's very very good.
This book is important. Credibility and persuasion are going to become increasingly recognized issues in developing interactive products, and user experience people will be on the front lines of the debate.
Forrester's market report, "The Power Of Design Personas", helps businesses understand the use and potential for integrating personas in software/technology development. To quote the report:
Though increasingly popular, personas remain widely misunderstood. Successful efforts key off of actual user behaviors, read like a story about a real person, and get used by everyone.
Market research plays a big role in communicating important processes and methodologies to business users. In my organization, market reports are among the most used information assets we serve. Seeing UX issues arise in market research literature is a good thing for our disciplines.
Harry Beck's 1933 London Underground map is an info design classic (thanks Erin). Martin Kay has used the tube map's visual language for flow diagrams. The results are luscious and engaging in a way that vanilla boxes and arrows can't rival. More than just sample deliverables, Martin offers a short explanation, a 7 page guide on creating your own, and a PowerPoint template of map components. (thanks pencil & paper)
Of course, with any deliverable, there's usually the tradeoff between making it quickly and making it pretty. For the most part, I prefer fast diagrams over pretty. That works great for internal team communication, or for clients who are directly engaged in the process as team members. Reserve the effort of pretty deliverables for final versions or other things that need to do a sales job within the organization. The selling power of a large format color diagram shouldn't be overlooked, even if the pencil sketch version tells the same story.
Building a Vision of Design Success - A common view of vision is that it's something handed down by a leader to the troops. When a redesign goes awry, the troops complain, “There was no vision.” But the problem goes deeper than either scenario; the problem is that there was no shared vision. [Boxes and Arrows]
The Visual Vocabulary Three Years Later: An Interview with Jesse James Garrett - In October 2000, Jesse James Garrett introduced a site architecture documentation standard called the Visual Vocabulary. Since then, it has become widely adopted among information architects and user experience professionals. B&A chats with Jesse about the vocabulary and thoughts on IA standards and tools. [Boxes and Arrows]
Widgetopia - Over time, Christina has pulled together a heap o' widgets... interesting... a blog being used as a notebook... ...
Copyright Doesn't Cover This Site - As debate over the legality of online file trading rages on, a University of Maine department takes a contrarian approach to copyright protection, creating a network where content is open to all. By Michelle Delio. [Wired]
I wonder how wireless, ad hoc networks would negotiate similar issues.
The New York Times enters into the Tufte-Byrne War, not surprisingly on Tufte's side by way of Clive Thompson's article "PowerPoint Makes You Dumb."
This year, Edward Tufte -- the famous theorist of information presentation -- made precisely that argument in a blistering screed called The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint. In his slim 28-page pamphlet, Tufte claimed that Microsoft's ubiquitous software forces people to mutilate data beyond comprehension. For example, the low resolution of a PowerPoint slide means that it usually contains only about 40 words, or barely eight seconds of reading. PowerPoint also encourages users to rely on bulleted lists, a ''faux analytical'' technique, Tufte wrote, that dodges the speaker's responsibility to tie his information together. And perhaps worst of all is how PowerPoint renders charts. Charts in newspapers like The Wall Street Journal contain up to 120 elements on average, allowing readers to compare large groupings of data. But, as Tufte found, PowerPoint users typically produce charts with only 12 elements. Ultimately, Tufte concluded, PowerPoint is infused with ''an attitude of commercialism that turns everything into a sales pitch."
Yet another great new issue of Boxes and Arrows is out. This time we get a Summary of the 2003 Dublin Core Conference from Madonnalisa Gonzales-Chan and Sarah Rice. Next we have John Zapolski and Jared Braiterman telling us about Designing Customer-Centered Organizations and lastly Alex Kirtland writes about Executive Dashboards.
evectors announces k-collector version 1.0, an RSS aggregator aimed at the enterprise market. If you haven't seen k-collector in action, it's worth checking out. The aggregator organizes weblog entries on four dimensions: what (subject/topic), who (as subject or author), where (events, geographic location) and when (date of publication). More about k-collector from their "About" page:
k-collector is an enterprise news aggregator that leverages the power of shared topics to present new ways of finding and combining the real knowledge in your organisation.
Weblogs are most commonly published by individuals and organised chronologically. This presents a challenge when considering weblogging in the context of business groups which might expect information to be organised in more meaningful categories. The k-collector architecture, and applications based upon it, deliver an interface targetted at business users.
The k-collector archicture combines clients for leading weblogging software with a server based aggregator and web application. WWWW is the first such application and is aimed at small business groups.
An author can associate posts with relevant topics such as project names, people, etc.. The server automatically shares each newly created topic with every other user allowing them to use those topics themselves. News topics are created in one of four intuitive categories: Who, What, When, and Where. The server then uses these categories and topics to provide an effective interface for navigating posts.
The updated the Drupal system running iaslash.org is now using a different form of password encryption which will require a one time change from registered users. You will only have to do this once for the lifetime of your account. If you faked or removed your email address you will not be able to retrieve a temporary password. In these cases, you will need to create a new account or contact us to re-establish your account with a valid email address. We're sorry for the inconvenience.
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