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Archive for January, 2003

Another good article from Mike

Friday, January 31st, 2003

Another good article from Mike Kuniavsky (Adaptive Path) about interviewing:

Face to Face With Your Users: Running a Nondirected Interview

These are the types of interviews I use most often – I have a few broad questions that I plan, and otherwise let the interview take its course. Usually I sit at a person’s computer with them and get them to show me examples, and point to things as we talk. This is much more useful than trying to conceptualise or just describe what happens.

Pleasing Words

Wednesday, January 29th, 2003

Have you ever found yourself, rather than trying to write well, trying to please Microsoft Word’s spell checker and grammar checker…


Spelling shocker

Tuesday, January 28th, 2003

I simply cannot spell or figure out my grammar tonight. Look at some of the things that have puzzled me:

burbon (bourbon)
Wendys recipes (I couldn’t remember where the apostrophe went)
caremalised (caramelised)

and I published my last entry as:
“You know your an IA when…”

I wish I could explain them away as typos, but tonight it’s all my fault…

Maybe some sleep would be a good idea.

You know you’re an IA when…

Tuesday, January 28th, 2003

…you have to create a book of family recipes for a wedding present and can think of at least 10 different ways to organise the content…

But I have a cunning plan – lots of indexes!

(hmmm…maybe I should abandon the printed version and create her a website)

Weird week

Thursday, January 23rd, 2003

This has been such a weird week. I spent Sunday, Monday and Tuesday hanging around the house, listening to the radio reports of bushfires coming my way and worrying about fires near where most of my friends live. Yesterday there was still no power at work, so I hung around home again.

I feel like a chunk has been bitten out of my life. I don’t know what I did on those three days – I had things that I could have done (working on the design of my blog for one), but I didn’t even think of them.

I still haven’t gotten my head back together. Maybe in a few days I’ll feel normal again.

Human OR Boolean

Wednesday, January 15th, 2003

Today I was talking to someone again about searching. He explained that he used AND to join two things. I asked whether he ever used OR. His answer was no, and when I asked why, he said:

“If I use OR, I get both A AND B – that’s too many results”

Another example of how the boolean language doesn’t match plain language…

Human AND Boolean

Monday, January 13th, 2003

I have read a few times that there is a big difference between the way that people interpret boolean AND & OR and the way they are used in information retrieval (most recently an article on searchenginewatch, found via Eleganthack)

I understand boolean logic, so have always had to take this claim at face value. I’ve been waiting to see it really happen (I don’t believe these things until I see them for myself).

Well, it happened today. I was talking to a user about searching a big information store. She showed me how she used one term to search and then checked each page in the result list. I was interested in whether it would be helpful to construct a more detailed query with more terms. I asked a question about searching for two things (being careful not to lead). She was very hesitant about it and I got the impression that she was not comfortable adding an extra term (using AND to join them).

We talked a bit more about this, until I realised why she was hesitant – she thought she would get more results from searching for ‘A’ AND ‘B’ – all of the pages with A and all of the pages with B.

Now I believe!

It’s the human things that count

Thursday, January 9th, 2003

Sometimes it’s really simple, human things that can make your day and help you feel worthwhile.

On a work day that was mostly very tiring (a mixture of long meetings, rushed designing & some conflict), this made me feel valued & worthwhile:

Zen Haiku:Slightly belated new year’s resolutions

Thanks Chad!

Latest alertbox

Thursday, January 9th, 2003

Yeah, yeah – more wobbly numbers:

Alertbox: Return on Investment for Usability

2003 prediction

Wednesday, January 8th, 2003

It’s that time of year – everyone’s doing predictions.

I’m not going to be very brave – I’m only going to do a prediction for myself.

For me, 2000 & 2001 were Internet years, 2002 was an Intranet year, and my prediction for 2003…

  Web-based application/interaction design

I have already designed more interfaces for web-based interactive applications in the last few days than in the last year. And there’s more on the way.

Proving myself wrong

Tuesday, January 7th, 2003

I’m about to start another round of user research – an intensive week of looking over people’s shoulders and talking to them about how they do a particular set of tasks.

I have an idea of the requirements for the end system at the moment – about as good as most of the developers would normally be working with – based on second-hand feedback from users.

Because I have a twisted sense of fun, something that I like to do is write up assumptions & requirements and mock up some interfaces before I do the research. When done, I hide this work away for a while.

After I have finished my research, thought a lot, written a report, requirements and a good set of scenarios, I get out my first set of work and compare them. Every time I have done this, I have found that my first set of work would not meet real needs or would be almost unusable for real tasks.

I wish I could share with you some of my current assumptions & requirements. It would be fun to show how different they can be (I can’t for privacy reasons). Maybe in a few weeks, I’ll have some good stories that I’m able to tell…


Thursday, January 2nd, 2003

I had to write a project proposal today. I was interested in the topic and have been looking forward to writing about it. But I was tired and wasn’t feeling like writing. So I procrastinated.

Here’s my top 10 ways to procrastinate at work:
- make a cup of tea. Make another cup of tea. Go to the shop and buy milk and make another cup of tea. Spend the rest of the day jittering (I have a low tolerance for caffeine)
- clean my desk – shuffling piles of paper until it looks tidy
- open up all the sites on my blogroll and see what everyone is writing about (unfortunately I read it all last night, so there wasn’t much new)
- do little no-brainer jobs, convincing myself that it is better to get them out of the way so I can concentrate on the big job
- write a to-do list, convincing myself that it is better to be organised before I get stuck into the big job
- organise my computer files and emails, convincing myself that it is better to feel organised before getting stuck into it
- pray for distracting emails that I have to read straight away (unfortunately today was a quiet day on the lists I subscribe to at work)
- buy chocolate
- eat chocolate
- talk with colleagues about the x-files and go hunting on the Internet for boxed sets of DVDs

But, in the end, there was nothing to do but write the proposal. And in the end it was good. I should have started it earlier…

Indispensible sites

Wednesday, January 1st, 2003

Over the last week or so I gave myself a break from the computer. Instead of being glued to the screen for hours every day, I did lots of homey things. I made curtains for the new house, baked bread, pies & pastries, planted trees and drank lots of champagne with friends.

In that time, I discovered that there were two websites I could not live without:
- A new TV guide that I found when my regular one decided to do maintenance over the christmas period
- A cool weather radar that shows when rain is on the way (we are in the middle of a big drought, so rain watching is more important than you’d imagine)

But, it’s back to work tomorrow. So not much TV and not so much weather watching, but perhaps more writing…