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Archive for March, 2004

Mouse gesturing is already habitual

Wednesday, March 31st, 2004

I installed Firefox mouse gestures 2 days ago on my work computer. Now I’m using my home computer, I keep wondering why I’m not going back when I scrape the page. I picked it up so fast…

Did I tell you how much I love Firefox – it is one cool browser, and some great extensions just make it better!

It’s my birthday

Monday, March 29th, 2004

Hey, today is my birthday!!

As a birthday gift, I’d really like to know who’s reading – email me (donna at or leave me a comment…

Which mapping is natural?

Sunday, March 28th, 2004

I’ll tell you something embarrassing – I always press the wrong button to change the channel on the TV remote control. My husband set it up very thoughtfully – the ‘up’ button goes numerically up through the channels – 1 press for each takes me through channel 1, 7, 9, 10, 28 (our 5 free to air channels), and the ‘down’ button goes down through the channels. But I always get it wrong.

He’s done exactly the right thing – up to increase, down to decrease. So why do I get it wrong? I finally figured it out today.

The TV guide that I use is laid out with the channels going down the page, in a table. Channel 1 is in the first row of the table, channel 28 is in the last row. Sounds sensible – numerical order, top to bottom (they only list the channel names, not the numbers, which is why I didn’t include an image, but the name-number match is ingrained).

So what I’m doing is not cycling numerically through the channels, I’m cycling through my memorised visual of the TV guide – if I want to go from channel 1 to 10, I press the ‘down’ button.

Thank goodness I figured that out…

Category & language formation

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2004

I’m reading a bit about category development and linguistics and prototype theory and basic categories and things at the moment (instead of doing my proper university work) and I did an interesting experiment with my daughter tonight (oh, the ethics of experimenting on my own 5 year old ;)

I gave her jars of spice and told her to smell them and put spices together that smelled similar – I was actually more interested in her ideas about smell than what resulted. Her comments as she smelt were – this one smells like mustard, this one smells like cinnamon, this one smells like grass, this one smells like cinnamon too, this one smells like yuck…

I found this interesting:

  • in relation to basic categories that I have been reading about
  • hearing her give them names quickly and immediately, rather than descriptions
  • it is similar to what I hear when card sorting – participants quickly start naming and labelling things rather than thinking ‘aboutness’

I have some thoughts about basic categories and the way that they may affect our work, but need to read more so I don’t ignorantly put my foot in my mouth ;)

House & garden photos updated

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2004

It took me 15 minutes and I have been putting it off for 6 months – I have finally posted a picture of our current house and a garden update…for those of you who followed the building of the house in 2002.

Some sites just don’t get it

Wednesday, March 17th, 2004

Some sites just don’t think about what users want. Here’s a scenario:

“On the way home today, Donna heard a Coldplay song that she hadn’t heard before. She has one album that she listens to endlessly, so wonders whether the song is from something older, or maybe there’s a new album. She goes to the Coldplay website to look at their list of albums to see whether she should ask someone to buy it for her for her birthday in 12 days”

Grrrr….where the hell is the discography or list of releases?

Deep understanding but little surface

Wednesday, March 17th, 2004

Have you ever read something that made you tingle to the core (hot or cold) but that conceptually, you still didn’t quite get. This interview with George Lakoff is a couple of months old, but it has given me that feeling of “I know that I get it deep in my bones, but my brain can’t quite keep up” (the first half anyway – not US politics, but language and the impact on us).

I have Women, Fire & Dangerous Things sitting beside my bed. Maybe I should go read it beyond chapter one.

Intranet Staff Directories research

Wednesday, March 17th, 2004

At work at the moment, I’m researching the use of staff directories within intranets. We have a survey running to collect information about staff directories: how popular and important they are, and what features they include. If you haven’t already, please take 5 minutes to fill in this short survey:

We will publish the full results of the survey on our site.

IA Summit photos

Tuesday, March 16th, 2004

Mike Lee has put up a great set of photos from the IA Summit.

Of course I went through looking for ones of myself. This one is my favourite.

UPA 2004

Saturday, March 13th, 2004

The UPA 2004 conference is open for registrations. This looks amazing!

Website user research books

Thursday, March 11th, 2004

I was asked today to recommend 2 books that would give someone new to large site design (large organisational web/intranet as opposed to small ‘branding’ site) a good grounding in how to find out what people wanted to use the site for, how to create a usable site, and how to make sure that it would be accepted by management.

What would you recommend?

I’ll tell you what I recommended in a week…

First usability workshop

Thursday, March 11th, 2004

I spent today teaching 20 potential usability testers all about testing, and working through their first-ever test. This was cool from 2 perspectives:

  • I love teaching things that I’m passionate about
  • I love seeing the first time that people watch someone else work. The paradigm shift that often occurs is amazing

Jesse’s ia/recon

Wednesday, March 10th, 2004

I’ve been looking through some ‘old’ IA work and again stumbled across a piece of writing by Jesse James Garrett about information architecture as a role, as a profession and what is necessary to move forward. It was finished just over 2 years ago, which is probably the last time I read it, and is as relevant today as it was then (maybe more).

Go read it, either for the pleasure of reading a beautifully written piece of writing, or an interesting reminder of our profession.

Summit settling

Wednesday, March 10th, 2004

I’m finally starting to come back down to earth after the IA summit. That might sound a bit odd really, that after a week and a half, I’m still on a buzz. But I do feel pretty isolated IA-wise here. I have lots of good email discussions and IM chats, and I do read a lot of articles, research and blogs to keep interested and innovative. But there is no substitute for having a casual conversation with someone and finding that they are just like me, and that they have been thinking about similar things and are worried about the same things I am.

So, now it is time to take my inspiration to a new direction and start to put some of it into practice (and I already have some very cool ideas to do just that).

We’ve left websites behind

Saturday, March 6th, 2004

Just a quick observation about the presentations and discussions at the IA Summit — I didn’t hear many references to building websites. OK, that’s probably a bit extreme, of course websites were mentioned, but they were just one of many things that we are working on. It seems to me that the ‘grooviness’ of designing websites is disappearing and we are focusing on other places to apply IA.

Anyone else notice this…