Browsing articles tagged with "usability Archives | april.holle.blog"
Dec
1

Lots to Do This Week

I just wanted to make sure you were invited to all the awesome web and design happenings this week in Phoenix!

Tues, Dec 4th – Refresh Phoenix

Refresh Phoenix meets every first Tuesday of the month to discuss current internet issues and trends. The topics range from becoming your own boss to css frameworks to make your work more efficient. This month the topic is results from the 2007 Web Design Survey that was put out by A List Apart. This should be a very interesting conversation since there really has never been a survey of the internet industry.

When: Tuesday, December 4th 6:30 – 9:30 pm (come early to get some networking in)

Where:
Inza Coffee
8658 East Shea Blvd, Scottsdale

Fri, Dec 7th – 16th Annual AIGA Art Auction

AIGA Arizona is holding it’s annual Art Auction event in Downtown Phoenix at MonOrchid Studios during December First Friday! AIGA Arizona is pleased to present over 100 original works of art (paintings, mixed media, photography, digital art, sculpture, jewelry, and more) displayed on sale in live and silent auction formats. Plus bid on a selection of special packages that include dining, entertainment and recreation. This year’s art auction will also feature the Mohawk Show.

When: Friday, December 7th 6-10 pm

Where:
MonOrchid Studios
214 E. Roosevelt Street, Phoenix

Sat, Dec 8th – BarCamp Phoenix

BarCamp is an ad-hoc un-conference born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos and interaction from attendees. All attendees must give a demo, a session, or help with one. This is great because you can both speak and be an audience member.

When: Friday, December 8th 9 am – 5 pm

Where:
University of Advancing Technology (UAT)
2625 W. Baseline Road, Tempe

Nov
25

Blue Beanie Day: Celebrate Web Standards

Celebrate web standards by donning a blue beanie Monday, November 25 and while you’re at it, take a picture and post it to the flickr group. This event was brainstormed by Facebook group formed around Designing With Web Standards. The book was written by Jeffrey Zeldman who is well known for his and talks around the world regarding standards compliance. See his two cents on the event.

Nov
18

Quarterlife and Internet Television

So I got a recommendation from Erin Enriquez at Terralever to take up watching the new internet series Quarterlife. The premise is basically this intern writer decides to take up video blogging about her two roomates and the two guys that live across the courtyard whom are all friends. It’s a pretty decent concept, but some of the writing smacks of your usual sitcom plot drama, he loves her but she’s dating his best friend type stuff. What I think is interesting is the whole site really isn’t dedicated to the show at all, its dedicated to the young creatives that the show is suppose to emulate. Granted, I personally connect with Dylan (the shows main character), but I dunno if I need another social network out there. It’s awesome to give young creatives a place to muse and mingle, and some of the talent on there is pretty crazy. Take for instance the Etchasketchist, yes… he creates all his art on the old school etch-a-sketches. Funky eh?

Anyhow, I’m going to take this a step further. I was reading some of the forum posts on the Quarterlife site and came across a post regarding how internet series were going to be the end of conventional television. I don’t see this as being quite so true. We always thought that the internet would be the end of printed materials, and yet here we are years later with just as many (if not more) newspapers, magazines and books. The simple beauty of media is that it all works together, and every time a new media is created, it just adds to our ability to share information in more ways than were previously available. However, the internet is truly unique at this time given the ability to share video, text and audio at speeds and over social networks and gaps that were previously impassable. The fact is, people are simply used to getting their media in a particular way, there is a reason a particular distribution method has worked for decades, and that method will continue to work. Take for instance newspapers, the first real news sheet was created around 59 B.C. in Rome, but we still use it today. Why? Because of the delivery device, ease of use, cost, user comfortability, etc.

Rather than count the days until you no longer own a cable box, appreciate the connection between the two media sources. Enjoy the fact you can catch the episode you missed last night on the web or submit your votes for your favorite episodes online. I love being able to go onto a show’s website after a show and get more information on the story they just covered. After all, you can only cram so much into an half hour or even an hour.  Unfortunately, since it’s still very new the coverage is still spotty, sometimes you can’t find the show you wanted more information on, sometimes they even TELL you it’s going to be on the website, and you go.. and it’s not. Once more and more users expect that connection to be there and the networks realize that they need to feed the addition to their shows online, the coverage will pick up and it will become just another arena for them to be competitive in.

So until next time tune in, tune out and log on.

Nov
16

Girls Love Money

Call me a girl who loves money, but I think the security features in all the new American currency are fascinating. The different levels of complexity of design, the material the dollars are made out of, the metallic inks, the list goes on. Anyhow, I was reading The New Old Five Dollar Bill article over at A Brief Message when I got curious as to what the new $5 actually looked like. I followed through to one of their reference links only to find a really cool interactive flash piece that actually goes through, highlights, points out and explains some (I’m sure not all) of the security features that the new currency provides. Neat huh? I’d wager that cost a pretty penny to make. 😉

Nov
9

Happy Hyperlinks & Link Love

I came across a great article this morning that discusses how to make your links stand out while not making them a pain in the ass to use. Links are great assets that can increase the value of your content by providing supporting material for your discussion and satelliting your topic to similar sites throughout the web. But, if your users can’t find these morsels of greatness or if they get annoyed by the way the links are provided, the whole value is lost. To learn more about the art of hyperlinks check out the full article over at Coding Horror. You may also be interested in a quality assurance article regarding the use of “click here” by the W3C.

Nov
2

The Long Wow: Keep Your Clients Coming Back

I subscribe to the Adaptive Path newsletter, and I suggest you do as well if you’re interested in user experience in the slightest. I’ve continously enjoyed the articles they write regarding users and how to keep them around.

The most recent article was The Long Wow by Brandon Schauer, an experience design director for Adaptive Path.

The Long Wow is a means to achieving long-term customer loyalty through systematically impressing your customers again and again. In other words, you have to keep up the awesome user experience all the time, not just the first time. Revising your product or service to continually introduce new features and examples of how this product can make your users lives amazing.

Brandon also explains that your common loyalty programs really don’t create customer loyalty at all. Just because you have a membership card usually isn’t the main reason you keep going back to a particular store.

For instance, I have a Basha’s discount card, a Frys discount card AND a Safeway discount card on my key chain. But I’m loyal to Safeway, but why? 50% of it I would have to say is because it’s the closest to where I live right now. 30% is the fact that I know my way around their store, I can find what I want and get in and out quickly. 10% is because I like the service there, everyone is friendly and they are helpful. 5% is because I feel that Safeway is cleaner than Frys (the next closest store) and I feel safer there. 5% is the fact that Kaleb, my boyfriend, worked for the Safeway company when he was younger. Notice the fact that I have a little card that gets me some discount doesn’t even play into that mix.

What is in the mix? Well, there’s location, ease of use, customer service, care of product, and personal connection to the brand.

So what are some new features Safeway could add to make my experience even better? Well what if they added a branch of my bank there so I could make deposits as well. Maybe they could open up another store even closer to me, since I still have to drive a distance to get to this one. Perhaps they could hire more checkers on Sunday evening since it’s always PACKED.

These types of constant user experience analysis really can make an impact on sales, marketing costs, and of course customer loyalty. Anyhow, check out the original article to read more about what Brandon and Adaptive Path have to say about this topic. 🙂

Oct
15

Bill Buxton: What Makes a Good UX Designer?

I happened across a video interview with Bill Buxton, Principal Researcher for Microsoft Research, on Canadian User Experience today and thought some of his points were very interesting in regards to what makes a great user experience designer.

He was questioned about what a college graduate should focus on when entering the ux career field at Microsoft, and his answer was interesting. “I don’t want a Jack of All Trades, Master of None. I want “T-Shaped People”, People who have a broad understanding of the whole field (the horizontal part of the T) but then have deep understanding and perspective in one discipline in particular ( the vertical part of the T).” He went on to describe how having this deep knowledge in one area of the field makes you very creditable and an expert in your area. This deep knowledge allows you to catch details of UX that someone with shallow knowledge likely would have missed.

Building a team of T-Shaped People allows you to have experts in all areas of your full field, yet all of them have a broad understanding of the task at hand and how they fit into the process. Being a T-Shaped person allows you to be trusted as an expert of your area of discipline, and other experts have to trust that you know the very miniscual details of your expertise.

Oct
11

Couture Book – Build Your Own Photo Book

Terralever has recently finished a flash application addition for Couture Book that allows the user to personally design they’re own one off luxurious photo book. The books feature hand-bound stitching as well as a slue of personalized options such as torn page edges and photo framing. These books are a great way to showcase personal photography, special moments in your life, or as family keepsakes.

The flash appilcation we’ve created allows the user to pick cover options, upload photos, select personalized options, review their book and then purchase. The usability of the application makes this so easy anyone could create they’re own personalized photo book. Also, the page display for the review of your book includes turning and shadows to make you feel as if you’re really flipping through your creation, so you know what you’re getting before you buy.

Couture Book and some of the application highlights was recently showcased on Fox 10, check out the video clip. After you see it, go pull those photos out from under the bed or out of the closet and make your very own Couture Book. 🙂

Sep
16

Letters from Code Camp

So I spent a good chunk of time yesterday over at the Phoenix’s Desert Code Camp and I must say, what a great set up! There were lots of sessions available for most every type of coder. I found two sessions to be especially interesting, SEO for Coders and Designing the Obvious.

 The SEO for Coders session went over how developers can start from the inside out when creating a site to really give SEO a fighting chance.

Some of the on-site SEO considerations are:

  • keywords in the domain
  • relavant, keyword rich content (Content is King!)
  • keywords in page titles (Page Title should go before Site Name)
  • clean, keyword rich urls
  • keyword proximity and density throughout the site (use Ranks.nl to test density, 2-5% is good, anymore and possible spamming might be considered)
  • having keyword encompassing meta tags, make sure all your keywords are covered
  • internal links
  • relevant, keyword rich alt and title tags
  • valid xhtml code that’s quick loading

Some of the off-site SEO consideration are:

  • inbound links to your site
  • reciprocal link exchange
  • press releases
  • forum comments
  • e-mails
  • paid links and pay per click

Overall it was a great session that covered the basics of SEO as well as some of the tips and tricks of the trade. Such as using dashes instead of no space or underscores in your page urls. I confirmed a lot of my beliefs about SEO as well as learned about some new tools to look for great keyword combos and how to better market my sites outside of my own.

Designing the Obvious was a wonderful session as well that covered some of the overlooked, but very important pieces of designing a user-friendly site. Some of the highlights were:

  • first impressions are important, make sure you put a lot of thought into the front page of your site
  • use wireframes to mock out your site before designing or developing, it saves time and money
  • pay attention to diagonal balance, don’t force it, but be aware that the users eye will tend to shift from the top left to the bottom right and try to put your main branding and focal point to fall within that diagonal line
  • when designing navigation try to use verb noun pairs to support the users mind set of getting things done
  • many sites are now changing the style of used objects to make them more pronounced on the page, the more the user uses it, the darker it becomes, making it easier for the user to find what they’re really interested in
  • we need to explain exceptable values on forms, approach form design as if you were a user looking at it the first time, make sure everything is instructive and clear
  • there are three states to any interaction on the web, invitation to act, manipulation or the steps to complete the process, and completion and confirmation, confirmation is the least remembered step in web site creation, but a very important step for the user, make sure to include it

Robert Hoekman, Jr., the speaker for Designing the Obvious session, also has a book out by the same title. Also check out his blog and he’s starting Up Down Repeat Workshops that you may want to check out, the next one coming up is about form design.

What is this?

This little blog happens to be the personal ramblings of one April Holle - I'm female, outspoken, webbie, a community evangelist, and Principal of Made Better Studio. Check out the about section for more info.

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