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Archive for September, 2003

Designing no-brainers

Saturday, September 27th, 2003

Just over a year ago I posted saying that I couldn’t evaluate my own work.

Well, a year on, and I have now figured out how to tell if my stuff is good…and I’m not happy.

When I’ve put in enormous amounts of time and energy, and lots of hard thinking, and the outcome looks like a complete no-brainer, I know it’s right…

You know you’re a usability gal when…

Friday, September 26th, 2003

…you go shopping for a briefcase and stand in the shop running through scenarios on each bag…

or does everyone do this?

(and the one I bought is gorgeous, usable, useful and hideously expensive)

UCD for IA – progress

Friday, September 26th, 2003

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was looking for user-centred design techniques to use on large heterogeneous information spaces. No, I haven’t any progress to report yet – I’m still reading and researching.

I go up and down on this. Sometimes I think that there’s nothing new to find – after all, we have known about top-down IA for years – identifying business strategies and user needs and designing for those. This should have a strong user-centred element and should be a no-brainer.

I spoke at a conference recently where lots of people mentioned that they used a user-centred approach in their IA projects. In itself, this is fabulous – people realising that users are important. However, on disucssion, I found that their user-centred approach involved my most favourite technique (*not*) – card sorting. Nothing apart from that – no task analysis, information needs analysis, understanding of context or culture. Just card sorting – shuffling around pieces of content without even analysing what the content is going to achieve.

That’s when I realised that there is something missing. I still don’t know what it is, but I’m sure that the popularity of card sorting is something to do with the simplicity and accessibility of the technique. This is what we need, but focused on users & tasks, not content.

Back to thinking…

My new job!

Friday, September 26th, 2003

I started my new job this week – with Step Two Designs. My business card says “usability specialist” but I’ll still be doing IA with a user-centred design focus… So in the last year I’ve gone the full distance – from innie, to semi-innie (on a long contract) to outie (consultant).

I think the thing I’m looking forward to most in this job is being able to work on a range of information systems (primarily Intranets at the moment) – looking for patterns in the systems and also patterns in the techniques that I apply to them. I want to see where this can take me in terms of techniques, and what I can then offer back to the community. It was a bit harder to do this in my last job – a whole year on one Intranet was great experience, but all of my techniques were used on just one set of information in one context…

I’m going to the US

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2003

How exciting – at this time next week, I’ll be on a plane to the US. Going to Disneyland, Yosemite National Park and San Francisco – all within a little over a week. It’s going to be a bit of a rush, but should be fun…

New site released

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2003


I finally released a friend’s site – Jeir Creek Wines.

It have been having trouble connecting to the site for weeks, and it finally works.

Gosh this is a pretty site, even if I do say so myself…(and it validates to XHTML transitional, which I think is pretty cool)