At the Ref Desk (11/7/19): Everyone who watched the morning news has come over to ask if that was me on TV. [more...]
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IA-Usability

Yes, Virginia, in Interface Design, There are Winners & Losers

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 7/11/09 (9:43pm)

Usability is a major objective for Drupal 7, the new upcoming version -- so much so that they've set up a site entirely devoted to it called, 'Drupal 7 User Experience Project' -- or 'D7UX.org' for short.

You've got to love a site which wears a declaration like this on its sleeve:

"Our UX Principles: 1. Make the most frequent tasks easy and less frequent tasks achievable. 2. Design for the 80% 3. Privilege the Content Creator 4. Make the default settings smart"

Usability Guidelines from the Yale University Library

Submitted by Leo Klein on Tue, 7/8/08 (4:49pm)

We've come a long way from the days of 'you must learn our system in order to use it'. From the Usability Guidelines at Yale University Library:

Factor Examples
Simplicity. Scale back features and dramatically simplify the experience for initial use. This should reduce unnecessary distractions, excess information, from initial screens. An initial search screen should not include advanced features, such as search by publisher or call number. Avoid wordiness -- only show most necessary text, be concise.
Initial page should include only the most important and common tasks for this service with unobtrusive links to other advanced functionality.

More here...

P.S. Remember the Yale site when the front page was one big graphic of nothing but a bunch of leather book spines?

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Institution: 

The Cost of Complexity

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 10/20/07 (2:57pm)
DSC05802.jpg

A while back, I mentioned in response to a post by Don Norman on "Simplicity Is Highly Overrated" that the washing machines where I lived are so complex that someone had lost all patience and crowbarred one of them open.

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Library Webpage Design and the Notion of Conversion Rates

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 8/19/07 (1:45pm)

We're all familiar with usability. Basically it's a way of assessing the success rate of any one task. Successfully finding a book or journal article starting from the home page would be a typical task to measure.

I'm wondering if it might also be helpful to think of task completion in the way marketers do, namely as "conversion rates".

MARKETING 101 FOR LIBRARIES

When librarians use the work "marketing", usually they mean 'getting the word out'. Marketers go one step farther: marketing for them means actually selling a product.

Fonts Are the New Black

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 8/11/07 (2:30pm)

I never thought I'd be reading this in the New York Times -- especially in relation to highway signs:

"Fonts are image, and image is modern America".

Institution: 

Usability Lessons from Real Life

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 8/11/07 (1:06pm)

We're so used to thinking of usability in terms of computing that we forget that there's a whole physical world out there where usability plays just as critical a role. Indeed, lessons from one environment can lead to understanding problems in the other.

Change User Defaults at Your Peril

The first lesson would be 'Change User Defaults at Your Peril'. We know this from search interfaces that wander from unofficial "standards" of market leaders like Google.

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ALA's Got Wireframes

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 8/8/07 (12:42pm)
ala_wireframe.png

ALA has been in the process of redesigning their site for a while now. They did a Usability Assessment Report (pdf) at the end of last year. Now, Rob Carlson, ALA's Manager for Web Development, has just posted a link to wireframes for the new site. He's also posted a link to an online survey for user feedback.

Quote of the Day

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 7/28/07 (1:29pm)

I was looking for a picture of the infamous "Butterfly Ballot" when I came upon this AskTOG article by Bruce Tognazzini.

It's a great read illustrating how lousy design can lead to catastrophic results. One of the best lines is:

This is yet another disgraceful example of what happens when you don't bother to user test.

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Grids Are Good

Submitted by Leo Klein on Mon, 7/9/07 (10:37pm)

I've wanted to link to this for quite a while now. It's a PowerPoint presentation by Khoi Vinh called "Grids Are Good". Khoi Vihn is the lead designer at the New York Times and he gave this presentation along with Mark Boulton at SWSW.

The importance of the topic, namely that grids are essential to how we lay out information can hardly be overemphasized.

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