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Archive for October, 2004

I’ve fixed a usability problem on my blog

Friday, October 22nd, 2004

Thank you to Chris for letting me know that I had a usability problem on my blog – I hadn’t made it easy for people to contact me, and just hadn’t realised it. Since I fixed it, I have had more people email me about stuff, which is great.

Next time though, be a little nicer about it!

In good company

Thursday, October 21st, 2004

It’s little things that make my day, like seeing my name amongst such good company:

Image of a blogroll from Saskin.com, showing my name amongst Dan Cederholm, Jeffery Zeldman and Joel Spolsky

This comes from Sashkin Log which I wish I could read!.

Card sorting tools – final summary

Wednesday, October 20th, 2004

Here is the up-to-date list of card sorting tools: Card sorting software (and online) tools

 

I posted a short summary of card sorting tools last week. At the time, I had looked at all of the tools and entered cards into the two that I thought would allow me to go further. I didn’t intend on getting real users to use the tools – I ran a sort as part of a workshop and entered the outcomes into the tools myself.I used two tools – IBM’s USort/EzCalc and CardZort. A summary of how they went for results entry and analysis:

USort

  • USort was as annoying as it always was (well, it hasn’t changed since I first used it years ago, so it isn’t any less annoying). I didn’t read the instructions properly first time and forgot to ‘promote’ all of my groups to top level categories, meaning that I had to start over.
  • The sorting involves dragging list items from one side of the screen to the other, making sure that they end up in the right group (this is buggy).
  • The program forces a very step-by-step approach (sort, group into higher groups, label) and there is no ability to go backwards
  • The cluster diagram is OK, with colour used to separate the main clusters. The only way to look at the labels is to look at the individual results

CardZort

  • CardZort is nice. As I mentioned before, there is a label limit of 20 characters, making it impractical for my use at the moment, but that is the primary limitation
  • The sorting method is spatial – the cards look like cards and can be dragged around the screen, then piled on top of one another. I do like this – it feels nice and natural to me.
  • The groups can be labelled at any point, re-labelled and the groups can be changed. Almost as nice as working with paper, provided you have a good screen and high resolution
  • The cluster analysis is similar to that from EZSort. It doesn’t colour code the main groups, but does allow you to see what labels have been applied for each group, which is good.

Other

I also had a chat with relevant people about two of the other tools:

  • uzCardSort is currently not being developed further as the main developer is unable. It is available for further open-source development. If anyone is interested in picking this up, I’m willing to help out on functionality, interaction and interface design.
  • In WebSort, you don’t have to name the categories before you create groups, but it gets very difficult to manage a bunch of unnamed categories that keep collapsing. You’ll probably have to look at it to see what I mean. Otherwise, it is very nice – attractive, easy to use and runs across the web.

 


Here is the up-to-date list of card sorting tools: Card sorting software (and online) tools

Blogging – time vs content

Thursday, October 14th, 2004

A blogging conundrum that I have come across a couple of times…

I posted a few days ago about card sorting tools. At the time, I had worked through the first few steps in a couple of tools and blogged initial results. Now I’ve done the sort and entered the data and would like to report back on what I found.

There are two ways to do this – edit the first entry or write a new entry.

Now what I decide to do depends on the nature of blogging and how we use blog-based information. Initial blogging is a time-based thing. Write something, people point to it and comment on it within a couple of days. But content is an ongoing thing. I write things like this to provide value not for 3 days in my lifetime, but for longer term value.

This first came unstuck for me the first time I found a URL from my blog in a book and realised that this was all too real. I effectively couldn’t change here without breaking someone’s book (I place strangely high value on books – I can’t bend a corner and wouldn’t dream of writing anything except my name in one). I didn’t care about breaking google – it would repair eventually, but breaking a book!

If I perceive blogging as write and throw away, I should post a new entry now and not worry about the fact that everyone will repeat their inward links, and future readers will have two posts to read. I guess that many bloggers percieve blogging this way – a lot don’t have any categorisation beyond date-based, which makes it difficult to find older stuff, and makes me feel that anything off the home page is perceived as having little value.

If I perceive blogging as longer-value content, I should update the initial post, and not worry about the fact that inward links may not match and that comments may seem strange.

I managed to avoid this with maadbooks – although it uses a blog tool, and has an RSS feed, a lot of the design is based on some sort of content solidity. For example, I haven’t bothered with date-based navigation as it is irrelevant, and have used subject-based nav instead.

But I haven’t sorted out what to do here ;) What do you think?

Card sorting tools – a short summary

Monday, October 11th, 2004

Here is the up-to-date list of card sorting tools: Card sorting software (and online) tools

 

I was preparing a bundle of cards for a workshop today, and reminded by the recent discussion on a discussion list and peterme about cluster analysis, thought I’d have another look at computer-based card sorting tools. I was vaguely thinking of dropping the results into a couple of tools, comparing them and seeing if my reservations about cluster analysis were still valid.So here’s a summary of the current tools in no particuar order. I have put card details into those that work, but haven’t put any results in yet. Will report on that in a few days:

  • WebCAT – Online tool. I can’t follow the install instructions, so have never tried it. Oops!
  • uzCardSort – a Mozilla extension. Needs a lot more work, clunky interface and somewhat buggy.
  • Card Zort – Windows application. Card titles display as 20 characters maximum (but can be stored as longer), which isn’t terribly useful. I got around it by putting some stuff in the ‘description’ field, but this isn’t sustainable for a real-life situation. Spatial sorting metaphor – dropping cards into piles seems more sensible than moving text around. It has its own clustering tool. Some potential, pending results and analysis.
  • WebSort – this is a commercial service, runs online and has an online demonstration. It is pretty easy to set up a sort, but the model is backwards – you have to create categories then add content to them. It might have had some promise otherwise.
  • CardSort – Windows application. Card titles are limited to 18 characters. Not useful at all.
  • IBM’s EZSort and EZCalc – Windows applications. Easy to enter cards into, slightly clunky sorting interface (but it at least groups then labels), cluster analysis tool available. Reported to flunk out with over 100 cards.
  • Classified – Windows application. It uses categories and content and participants have to determine which category the content goes into. If the participant doesn’t select the ‘correct’ category, they get an ‘incorrect, please try again’ error message. For this reason alone, I wouldn’t use it.

Bit of a disaster all ’round, methinks!


Here is the up-to-date list of card sorting tools: Card sorting software (and online) tools