Articles, essays, editorials, white papers

Nielsen drops page view ranking

From USA Today, Nielsen drops page view rankings in favor of weighing time on site as more important.

Article specifically cites online video and Ajax as reasons why page views are meaningless.

Time on site is also skewed. Measuring content views would be a more precise measurement of user engagement. (You can track content views for both video and ajax.)

(Link via Mr. Eddie James)

Things You See - A conversation between Bob Goodman, Peter Jones, Eric Reiss and GK VanPatter

NexD Journal has a follow-up article to GK VanPatter's Unidentical Twins that triggered much discussion a few months ago. The follow-up is a 4 way conversation between Bob Goodman, Peter Jones, Eric Reiss and GK VanPatter.

I feel like I should post a witty summary, but it is too long to summarise, covers too much ground and (for me) is somewhat hard to grasp (though much easier than the first article).

So I'll pull out just one tiny part that made me chuckle:

"GK: Perhaps we could each talk a little about what the most significant challenge facing us in practice is today and how we grapple with that challenge?

Eric Reiss: The problems facing our practice? In general, I’d say it’s folks who push their personal agendas rather than pursuing the greater good. And how do I “grapple with that challenge?” Well, I listen, learn…and give them lots of rope…"

Things You See: Four Views into the Transformation Room

Enterprise Metadata Blog

Enterprise Metadata Blog by R. Todd Stephens

Todd has got a nice mix of enterprise metadata from both theory and practice since he did his dissertation at the same as working at Bell South on real enterprise metadata needs. He has presented at several conferences involving both the more techie stuff at DAMA International as well as Dublin Core and other related conferences. I believe this intesection of the techie/practical world and the theory/academic world gives us a good mix of the challenges we face at managing information systems. He's definitely in the mix of things I'd like to be involved. It will be interesting to see where his blog goes in sharing his experiences. Many of his previous presentations and handouts are also available on his site.

Lou Rosenfeld updates his Enterprise IA Roadmap

Lou Rosenfeld shares his Enterprise Information Architecture Roadmap. This update reflects the insights Lou's gained after using it in consulting and teaching it in his EIA seminars across the US. Great stuff - I think that there's definitely an enterprise imperative for effective IA, but that we need to co-opt or cooperate with other enterprise architecture efforts.

Ajax - Rich Apps in the Browser

Jesse James Garrett writes about the new generation of rich web apps that *don't* use Flash, like Google suggest, Oddpost, etc. It's an interesting take on alternatives to Flash RIAs, using Asynchronous JavaScript + XML (hence Ajax).

User research on folksonomy use: a mini-ethnography

This is the first study I know of where the author actually observed and interviewed folksonomy users (a good reminder that most of the conversation to date has been by folks who don't actually build social categorization tools).

UX Salary Survey

2004 UX professionals salary survey has interesting data , though since most respondents were from the US, information on other countries is limited.

A research agenda for Information Architecture

Peter van Dijck expresses frustration with the slow pace of new thinking in his information architecture research agenda. Lots of good response on SIGIA and the aifia-members lists that Peter sums up on his blog.

In particular, the question of whether we need more research, or whether we need more innovation is important. While basic research is valuable, many of Peter's points revolve around cross-training with other disciplines like business management or ethnography...often a quicker win for practitioners.

The problem of a slower flow of new ideas is also from maturing practice - our current tools are good enough to get by, so we aren't as motivated to find new tools, even though they might be better.

A-Z Indexes for Web Sites: Usage and Implementation

What’s the level of interest among information architects and web developers in implementing A-Z indexes on their sites?

Why don’t we see more indexes? I attempted to answer this question in a posting an essay to IA-WIKI Web Site Indexes, although I have not yet received any comments there.

My sense is that even if information architects are interested in implementing A-Z indexes, they do not have the time, inclination, or skills to do it themselves (unless they are former librarians who had taken a course in indexing). Indexing is similar, yet distinct enough from category or taxonomy development to require specific training or study from a course or book. Yet information architects might not even know where to find contract indexers.

As indexing is a very established profession, it is probably easier for people who create web sites to look up indexers, than for indexers to try to target people creating web sites. Most indexers belong to the professional associations of their country, which maintain searchable online directories of subscribing members and contract job posting bulletins.

Personas drive business strategy at Best Buy (or vice versa)

Earlier in the spring I blogged about Best Buy using personas. It’s interesting to me to see how those personas have started to permeate Best Buy culture - with customers being labeled with the name of the persona, as discussed in this Wall Street Journal article.

Store clerks receive hours of training in identifying desirable customers according to their shopping preferences and behavior. High-income men, referred to internally as Barrys, tend to be enthusiasts of action movies and cameras. Suburban moms, called Jills, are busy but usually willing to talk about helping their families. Male technology enthusiasts, nicknamed Buzzes, are early adopters, interested in buying and showing off the latest gadgets.

Questions about card sorting effectiveness

UIDesigner has an interesting post questioning the usefulness of cardsorts in developing information architectures.

I’ve asked before: what are alternatives to card sorting that let us go beyond the superficial? I still haven’t heard any definitive answers though.

Enterprise IA Presentations

Gene Smith has collected quite a few presentations on Enterprise Information Architecture. If you can’t get to one of Lou’s EIA seminars, or if you’re wondering if you should go, this is a great place to wrap your head around EIA.

IA Heuristics

Lou Rosenfeld offers up his set of heuristics for information architecture. Much more useful for evaluating findability than Jakob and Rolf’s original usability heuristics that were developed in DOS days.

8 Ways to Improve Site Search

Jeff Veen and Darcy DiNucci recently offered a paid report on search. Jeff sums up lessons learned in the report with his article 8 Quick Ways to Fix Your Search Engine.

What to do about data in wireframes

There’s a problem with endless copied and pasted pseudo-data in wireframes - if the numbers in the shopping cart don’t add up, or clients struggle with lorem ipsum, what’s an IA to do? Fake data can distract stakeholders and take valuable time away from examining core functionality. Dan Brown offers a variety of ways to deal with data in wireframes in the latest Boxes and Arrows.

Tips for IA job hunters

Michael Angeles has a boatload of excellent advice for information architects looking for work. If you’re in the market for an IA job, particularly if you’re new in the field, go read it now. Caroline Jarrett’s recent take on how not to get a job in usability has similar themes with some other tips mixed in as well.

Book Review: Digital Ground

Andrew Ottwell’s eloquent commentary on Digital Ground makes me want to buy the book.

Malcolm McCullough’s new book…is a readable and timely contribution to current interaction design. Using ideas drawn from architectural and design theory, cognitive science, and philosophy, McCullough significantly extends current ideas about pervasive computing and so-called experience design, while building on the foundation of traditional task-centered interface design. It’s the best current book on interaction design, and should appeal to both designers and theorists.

Thanks Stewart

Innovate and Die?

Gary Feldman at Cheskin shares some insights into why innovation can lead to dead ends. This quote sums up the problem - becoming a "betamax first mover loser". His examples are Tivo (a great innovation) and satellite radio (a paid version of something you already have). The main difference between the two is that Tivo doesn’t integrate into the TV / Cable experience - buying a Tivo requires extra effort - while satellite radio is an option at the dealership.

The key insight for UX is that it’s the integrated experience that matters - not just the one specific product we might be working on.

btw, Cheskin’s company blog is consistently insightful and refreshing.

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