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Archive for February, 2004

A great comment on UCD

Monday, February 23rd, 2004

Kevin posted an amazing comment about UCD, card sorting and IA on one of my old posts – go read it.

A toybox full of memories

Tuesday, February 17th, 2004

I’ve been reading Don Norman’s Emotional Design and thinking about the idea of visceral processing. I haven’t studied much cognitive processing theory, so this is new and interesting to me.

A related interesting thing happened on the weekend – I was attempting to clean up my daughter’s room. I was finding old scraps of drawing and cheap rubbishy toys – things that didn’t look important to me – but she wouldn’t let me throw them out. I could see in her face that the idea of throwing these things out was quite distressing. I listened to why she wouldn’t throw them – it wasn’t that she wanted to use them, or that the toys were fun to play with, but that they had memories for her. Some were drawings that someone had done for her, and some of the toys were ones that she remembered where they came from and other associations. The associations weren’t necessarily special – not from momentus events like birthdays or holidays – just little everyday things.

I think beyond this natural visceral reaction to her memories being thrown away, there is probably an age-related effect as well. She is 5, so only has a few years of memories anyway. She has no written language yet (so no way of writing her history), so for her, much of who she is and her short history is tied up in those memories – they may look like rubbish to me, but to her they are part of who she is.

So, looks like the toybox full of memories stays full until some of them fade away…

Navigation is hard

Thursday, February 12th, 2004

Sometimes I realise things that I really should have known all along, and it surprises me.

This week’s realisation is that designing good navigation is damn hard work (OK, duh!). A couple of things have contributed to this:

  • I have been doing the page layouts for a large intranet, and particularly struggling with navigation at the 3rd level and beyond
  • I have been writing about how to determine what good navigation is
  • I asked on sigia-l for ideas of sites that handled lower level navigation well, and only got a few examples back

I might explore this a bit further & write something up about it…

PS – comment here with examples of sites that handle lower level nav well and badly

Designing the deepest page

Monday, February 9th, 2004

Designing home pages for big sites is easy – it’s designing the deepest page in the site that’s hard. Why is this hard? Well, to design a deep page, you have to design everything that goes in between the home page and that page. You have to design the path to that page, all of the navigation that happens in between and methods for people to escape from the depths of that page.

This is where we should be showing our skills – not by showing how great our home pages are, but by showing how great an experience we have created getting to the deep parts of the site.

(Now don’t tell me that I shouldn’t be designing deep sites – large sites do need depth, and I’m always designing large sites)

I love edits!

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2004

When I first joined the government a long time ago, one of my first jobs was to write minutes for my boss.

How I hated that. He’d give me little direction, then come back with massive edits. I was convinced, as I imagine so many are, that it really would have been more efficient for him to do it all himself. Oh, those edits were tiresome.

But I just realised that I now love edits. I love working on a piece of writing and having someone else’s input – watching it improve every time and become both more solid and elegant. First with Ryan for my article in Boxes and Arrows last year, then with James on articles for work, and now with Todd Warfel on a new B&A article. It really is an amazing process.