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Archive for October, 2002

Airline bookings

Wednesday, October 30th, 2002

I have just had an interesting experience. I booked flights online for the first time.

And you know what – it was easy! I found my flight times easily, compared costs easily, confirmed easily and provided my money easily.

So why am I so afraid that I am going to turn up at the airport and not have a seat? Bad experiences using website in the past have made me feel that if it is easy, then I can’t possibly have done it right.

About programmers

Wednesday, October 30th, 2002

Oops…I really was cross last night.

I should mention that I’m working with a great bunch of programmers right now, but in the past have worked with some who couldn’t follow a specification…

Following specifications

Tuesday, October 29th, 2002

I’m cross.

The painter who is doing our new house painted a doorframe instead of staining it. The specifications said it should be stained, so why didn’t he do it?

Perhaps he was a programmer in a previous life…

Dumb instructions

Monday, October 21st, 2002

I’m answering an online survey. Here is the first part of the instructions:

“The survey questions
- all the questions for this survey will be presented to you at one time
- the questions may be answered in any order.”

Ummm…if they are presented to me one at a time, how can I choose the order.


The value of people

Monday, October 21st, 2002

I was somewhere on the weekend where there was a display by one of Australia’s largest businesses. We spoke to them about a number of things. At the end of the conversation they gave us a card with a customer support phone number. They pointed to the phone number and said “When you ring this number, you don’t get a machine – you get to speak with that person (and pointed to a lady who was talking to another client) – she’ll help you with whatever you need”

How encouraging – maybe they have realised that people are more valuable customer service representatives than computers for once!

Usability testing is exhausting

Wednesday, October 16th, 2002

I’m completely exhausted…today I attended 2 short meetings, went to an IA lunch and ran 12 short usability evaluations.

My days are usually fairly busy, but the inclusion of usability evaluations has made this one more tiring than usual.

And it’s not just that I have to introduce the test, run it and wrap it up in 15 minutes (I can cope with working quickly) – it’s all the emotional work that this entails. When doing very quick testing, I need to analyse the participant’s rhythm and settle into it within the first minute or two. This then helps them get into the task quickly, and I get maximum feedback in minimum time.

Yawn…sleep please!

Post-it notes

Tuesday, October 8th, 2002

I spent today shuffling post-it notes around my desk. To anyone who does not know me, this must look very odd. To those who work with me, it has become fairly common.

Am I the only person addicted to post-its?

Today’s post-it shuffling was to try to sort out a project plan. I write all of the things I think I need to do, then shuffle them into some sort of timeline/dependency diagram. When I prepare training courses, I write everything I want to present on post-its then shuffle them around until I have a training course mapped out. I do the same whenever I have to write a big report.

Now the best thing about post-it notes is that they have glue. My colleagues think it is very, very funny to walk up to my desk, take a deep breath, and blow!

My community site is ready

Thursday, October 3rd, 2002


The community site I have been building is finally published (albeit with 2 pages to finish):

You know, it wasn’t getting the content organised that took ages, it was sorting out the registration and redelgation – what a slow process.

OK, I know it is very green. I’m not a brilliant visual designer, but I’m getting better (one of my friends said that it is the best green site he has seen – I’m not sure how to take that ;)

Feedback sincerely appreciated.


Wednesday, October 2nd, 2002

I continued working on a site map today. Some of it is brilliant (like, really amazing!), and some of it is still uncomfortably messy.

The part that is brilliant matches exactly with the authors and audience with whom I have been speaking most. There are some groups who are more difficult for me to talk with, and the area of the site that they would use and author is the part that is still messy.

Interestingly, the discussions I have had with the first group have not been related to the design process. I have been attending meetings (OK, I am a nut, going to meetings when I don’t need to), chatting on the phone, talking with them in training sessions (I am teaching a mini IA session), and listening deeply.

The things that I am listening for are not Intranet related either – I am listening to the words they use, the way they explain their jobs, the way they work together, the relationships they have, their ideas,, and their underlying needs.

This is perhaps more important than all of the design techniques that I know. If I wasn’t able to listen deeply (and many, many people can’t), I might be able to make a usable site, but it wouldn’t be one that addresses needs that the users don’t even know they have.

Gut feeling

Tuesday, October 1st, 2002

I’ve been working on a site map for the last few days (not the type that describes an existing site – the type that describes the likely structure of a new site).

I naively had thought that once I knew the content well, and ran a card sorting session, the site map would magically fall out of this process (I have done the process on a smallish site and it did).

Boy was I wrong. I have good information from a card sort, but not the type of information that will easily give me a site map. So how am I doing it? With a great big dose of gut feeling (and I will be usability testing the site map once I have finished)…