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Archive for November, 2005

Web patterns & web semantics

Tuesday, November 29th, 2005

John Allsop, over on ‘dog or higher‘ has written a great article about web patterns and web semantics.

His article goes beyond just looking at patterns for web design, and recognises that not only do we have a set of stuff we could emerge into patterns, but the strength may be in making it also semantically meaningful (maybe he doesn’t say that, might be my interpretation.

Anyway, I think it is interesting, and he is going to be following it up with a community project, site etc. Go read it: WebPatterns and WebSemantics.

Getting involvement with prototype interfaces

Friday, November 18th, 2005

There is a funny piece of rhetoric from the user-centred design world – it says that when showing prototype interfaces for the first time they should be hand-drawn and rough, not computer-drawn and tidy. The theory says that people are more likely to tell you what they think when things are still rough.

This has always caused me a problem as my handwriting is awful! Although I love hand-drawn sketches for their speed and flexibility, I am always surprised when people actually understand what I have done, as even I find them hard to read.

So lately I have been using a combination of hand-drawn and computer drawn interface sketches. My hand-drawn sketches are very high level and communicate the shape of the application (as the detail is unreadable anyway). As long as I’m on the right track with that, I go to computer pretty quickly so people can read and consider the detail.

But to get around the issue of getting feedback on tidy drawings (and I’m still not convinced it is a problem), I do a couple of things:

  • Print parts of the interface out on different coloured paper and cut them out like a jigsaw
  • Highlight parts of the interface with coloured markers
  • When demonstrating, have spare markers on the table, and draw first
  • Take along spare copies of the interface and scissors, and cut out

The second-last point is the most important one. Grab a marker and scribble on your own work. It’s fine to be messy. This helps to break the social taboo of drawing on something that is tidy. If people still look hesitant, hand them a marker and ask them to draw. This more strongly communicates that it is OK to get involved. Cut out spare parts from the copies, and re-assemble interfaces, and hand the scissors around for others to play as well.

I believe that we have an ingrained taboo about touching someone else’s work, and particularly about writing on something tidy (maybe we’re afraid of our mothers jumping out and yelling at us for writing on a book).

It only takes a little effort in a design exercise to communicate that this is OK, and even encouraged. Go for it!

WSG presentation: Designing usable rich internet applications

Friday, November 11th, 2005

I spoke at the inaugural Canberra web standards group this afternoon, on the topic of “Designing usable rich internet applications”.

You can read my presentation: Designing usable rich internet applications but it may not make sense by itself. I’ll let you know when the podcast is available (I’m looking forward to listening to it myself – Peter said I used as a verb – as in ‘you can delicious it’).

When you look at the presentation, it may not be clear what is happening. It is in the S5 format – click on the screen (or use arrows or page up/page down) to go through it, or use the controls in the bottom right-hand corner to jump to a slide. View the outline (the little icon that looks like a 0 with a line through it) to see notes and references.

I have used incremental graphics in it, without using positioning for each individual one (as is the case with Eric and Derek’s examples) – I don’t know whether I’ve done something clever or obvious. If it is clever, let me know and I’ll explain.

[Update - a technical hitch meant that the podcast won't be available. But if you are interested in the topic, have a look at the presentation and keep your eye out for more - I'll be writing and speaking about it again.]

Webstock ’06

Thursday, November 3rd, 2005

Webstock ’06 was announced today. Looks like a great conference on a good range of web topics. They have a great international and local line-up. I’m looking forward to listening to Kathy Sierra, Joel Spolsky, Doug Bowman and Kelly Goto.

I’m presenting too, and very excited about it, so no doubt you’ll hear more from me between now and May!

Technorati tag: Webstock

Could I please have a gmail invite

Tuesday, November 1st, 2005

I resisted it for ages, despite many invites coming my way, and now that I need to do something with gmail, can’t get in. It’s still invite only!

Do you have an invite you can give me? Send to donna at maadmob dot net


[Update - all done. Thanks guys - only took 5 minutes]