All posts from
November 2004

Using Language to Improve Usability PDF Logo

“Usability: The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a specified context of use. Document design: The field concerned with creating texts (broadly defined) that integrate words and pictures in ways that help people to achieve their specific goals for using texts at home, school or work.” (Whitney Quesenbery)

Design as Communication

“Each placement of an object, the choice of materials, the addition of hooks, handles, knobs, and switches, is both for utility and for communication. The physical placement and the perceptual appearance, sound, and touch all talk to the users, suggesting actions to be taken. Sometimes this conversation is accidental, but in the hands of good designers, the communication is intentional. Design is a conversation between designer and user, one that can go both ways, even though the designer is no longer present once the user enters the scene.” (Donald Norman) courtesy of ui designer

Web Applications 1.0

“The World Wide Web’s markup language has always been HTML. HTML was primarily designed as a language for semantically describing scientific documents, although its general design and adaptations over the years has enabled it to be used to describe a number of other types of documents. The main area that has not been adequately addressed by HTML is a vague subject referred to as Web Applications. This specification attempts to rectify this.” (Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group)

User-Centered Design for Fully Mobile Devices

“This paper introduces a lot of taxonomies to help understand different form-factors and mobile usage contexts. It is arguing for the application of a User Centered Design process for mobile devices, and presumably within IBM. They strongly differentiate the differences with Fully Mobile Wirelessly Connected (FMWC) devices. A number of examples of UCD activities are given. In particular the effects of context are shown with examples and the need for task-analysis that includes the surrounding activities is promoted.” (Mobile Community Design)

The Sphere of Design

“The web design community thankfully seems to be wrapping up the ‘design vs. usability’ argument. In case you missed it, the conclusion was: ‘Not either/or but both, and it depends.’ Design leaders have proved that web sites can be both usable and beautiful, but we lack a vocabulary to talk about this new standard. The question now is not ‘Which is most important?’, but ‘How do we deliver what’s most important?’ This article introduces the ‘Sphere of Design’, which is a simple conceptual model that illustrates the relationship and trade-offs between ‘looks’ and ‘works’.” (Ben Hunt – Scratchmedia)

Setting the scope for light-weight Web-based applications

Unfinished version of an essay on ‘Web applications’. – “The light-weight, Web-based applications (‘webapps’) of this essay are small, platform-independent programs that are downloaded on demand and execute inside a client program, such as a browser. They are thus like Java applets, but more ‘script-like’ than ‘program-like’ and therefore easier to write in many cases (though harder in others). They have a clearly separated user interface, that allows webapps to be easily adapted to different devices.” (Bert BosThe W3C Workshop on Web Applications and Compound Documents Position Papers)

S1000D: International Specification for Technical Publications utilising a Common Source DataBase

“This specification has been produced to establish standards for the documentation of any civil or military vehicle or equipment. It is based on international standards such as SGML/XML and CGM for production and use of electronic documentation. In addition, it defines a Common Source Data Base (CSDB) to provide source information for compilation of the publications and for use in electronic logistics information systems to deliver modules of information direct to the user.”

Science in the Making: Understanding Generative Research Now!

A conversation with Liz Sanders and GK VanPatter – “So much of what is talked about today under the name of co-designing or human-centered innovation is still based on the expert-driven model. Informed ethnography is just not enough to support human-centered innovation. Participatory design practices together with an attitude adjustment are needed. Experts design for people. In the future we will be designing and innovating with people, not just for them.” (NextD Journal)

The End of Usability Culture

“Usability culture has unquestionably made the Web a much more usable place. Given the way the Web generally worked just five years ago, the role of usability and related disciplines to the evolution of the Web was vital. But usability culture has steered the Web development ship long enough. It’s time for a new approach. To understand the urgent nature of making that shift, we need to understand how we got where we are today.” (Dirk KnemeyerDigital Web Magazine)