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Archive for November, 2003

Change of degree

Saturday, November 29th, 2003

Hey, I just realised that I forgot to tell you about my exciting university news – I have decided to change degree, starting early next year. I have decided to drop my 2/3 finished Masters of Internet Communication (for reasons I am not going to go into here) and start a Human Factors program at the University of Queensland.

I can hardly wait!

OZCHI 2003

Saturday, November 29th, 2003

I’ve just returned from three days at OZCHI 2003 (Australia’s equivalent of CHI, run by CHISIG). I love this conference – it gives me a break from practical work and gives me a chance to think about what is happening in academia and in our industry. It is my only conference where I get to spend 3 days with people as passionate about HCI as I am, both talking about work and having darn good chats about everything else.

Some of my favourite moments included:

  • talking to Alan Dix on a noisy bus about whether it is possible to define UCD, and lots of other random subjects (it was also fun to talk with someone who changes topic faster than me and draws pictures in the air as much as I do!)
  • attending Tom Hewett’s tutorial on memory & problem solving, and playing memory games all day
  • catching up with people I met last year (although I still missed a couple of people) and talking with lots of people I hadn’t met before
  • having far too many interesting thoughts to remember!

Excellent stuff! Time to read the proceedings and get all of this settled in my head…

(And if I talked to you there and didn’t say goodbye – sorry, had to leave early to catch my flight home. Email me – donna at

Mark Hurst on usability again

Tuesday, November 18th, 2003

Why does Mark Hurst hate usability people so much. His bites at them are recurrent and stereotypes them as writing useless reports and dealing with irrelevant detail. I know lots of great usability people who do focus on strategy and improving the user experience – I don’t know who he’s hanging out with…

What do I do

Wednesday, November 12th, 2003

I still love explaining to people what I do. I usually start with “I design websites”. Them: “Oh, yeah, that sounds interesting”. Me: “but what I do is different – I design really large sites”. Them: “Oh, yeah”. Me: “Like, the last site I worked on had 10,000 pages, my current one has 25,000 pages, but my first site had 60,000 pages”

Jaw drops, eyes pop!

“So can you help me with mine?”…

Compelling bookshops

Wednesday, November 12th, 2003

Had an interesting bookshop experience today. Went into Readings Books and simply could not walk out without buying books – my problem was figuring which to buy. Went into Borders across the road and not one book jumped off the shelf into my arms – even though the books I was looking at were in both stores.

Atmosphere does count…

Melbourne weather

Monday, November 10th, 2003

I’ll be in Melbourne for the next few days. Melbourne has a reputation for ‘all seasons in one day’. Well, the forecast for the next few is:

  • Wednesday – 19C (suit with long shirt)
  • Thursday – 25C (summer dress)
  • Friday – 30C (shorts, tank top & sandals)

Geez – I’m going to have to pack my entire wardrobe for a 3-day visit. At least Canberra is either consistently cold or consistently roasting…

Deleting polite spam

Monday, November 10th, 2003

I still don’t get a lot of spam comments on this blog – maybe only 6-8 per week. I’m completely happy to delete obvious spam, but I have trouble deleting posts that are spam, but are polite about it. Today’s was:

“Hello. I just wanted to give a quick greeting and tell you I enjoyed
reading your material.”

Ohhh….how nice is that?

A new metric – restarts

Friday, November 7th, 2003

I discovered an interesting metric to collect for a usability evaluation of a site – restarts – the number of times the participant ‘starts again’ when trying to find information.

Usually I collect task success, time to completion, clicks (compared to minimum), number of searches and whether search led to success. The ‘restarts’ metric surfaced during the evaluation I’m working on at the moment – in a couple of cases, people tried 5-6 independent paths of attack to find what they need. Interesting…