November 20, 2008

The One-Click Rule of Web Design
I been thinking the 3-Click rule is outdated and needs to be updated. Let's face it, three clicks is way too many. Why should we optimize for three? I think we can do better than that.

Therefore, let me introduce you to the One-Click rule.

"Users should be able to get to everything in just one click (or less)."

Just some of the benefits of this rule are that users:
1) can get to everything with just one click
2) suffer less from "clickitis" - an RSI type of syndrome involving inflammation of the clicking digit on their mousing extremities
3) spend more time doing things other than clicking links on your web site

If you're not following this rule, then
A) you just aren't following "best practice" or
B) you actually have some common sense and know what user-centered design is *really* all about.

If you don't believe me, just ask me.

Hi, my name's Lyle, I'm the sarcastic one.

Note: I also have started developing the Zero-Click Rule, but am awaiting some development in terms of a new user-input device...a peripheral currently code named the "ThinkBall" by Sarah Bellum Technologies.

Related Posts:
- Sitemaps are Stupid
Additional Resources:
- UIE: Testing the Three-Click Rule

Note to self: Great job, this is the first site (according to Google) to use the phrase "mousing extremities"!

October 31, 2008

Balsamiq Mockups Home | Balsamiq

New Sketching tool

Discovered this via Twitter (thanks Kevin!)

Balsamiq Mockups

Balsamiq Mockups

Related Concepts:
Prototyping, sketching, wireframe, mockups, storyboards, prototype, visio

July 22, 2008

Presentation Zen: When bar charts go bad

Keep your condoms out of my information design

Interesting discussion on use of imagery in charts on Presentation Zen: When bar charts go bad

...resisting the urge to post sarcastic comments...

Be sure to note the "Click for larger size" link. :)

July 18, 2008

Goodbye to faulty software?

This article I discovered via ACM entitled "Goodbye to faulty software?" highlights how often researchers just don't "get it". Here are a few key quotes:

"Will it ever be possible to buy software guaranteed to be free from bugs? A team of European researchers think so."

"The key lies in an esoteric reformulation of mathematics called ‘type theory’ based on the notion of computation. In this approach, the specification for a computational task is stated as a mathematical theorem. The program that performs the computation is equivalent to the proof of the theorem. By proving the theorem the program is guaranteed to be correct."

While they've been working on this "type theory" concept since 1989, I can't see how it's going to ever create a golden age of well designed software. Most problems with software are not that some technical bug causes it to fail, but that it has poorly conceived and poorly design features and functions. It's not bad's bad design that's the problem. Still, some engineers fail to recognize that software serves humans, often in many varying situations, organizations, locales and cultures, and therefore is a much more complex and difficult challenge than building a simple bridge (one locale, simple, clear purpose and very few "use cases").

Matematics and engineering are great, and important to creating good software...but psychology, human factors and Design are pieces of the puzzle that can't be overlooked.

Nevertheless, when you're applying for grants, I'm sure it sounds better if you assert that your Math theory is going to save the world from bad software.

June 30, 2008

How To Be A Good Product Manager

Jeff Lash is a fellow "UXer" who's made the leap into product management. His blog, How To Be A Good Product Manager, is a great resource.

Posts like "Stop gathering requirements" and "Do not be afraid to remove features" are refreshing.

June 09, 2008

That's Some Kinda Thumb Drive!

Device Daily covers 10 Weird USB Drives.

My favorite is the syringe shaped one. I'm sure some of my pharma and medical clients would love those!

June 02, 2008

11 Ways to Improve Your Website...or 11 Ways to Create a Bad Online Reading Experience

I had just finished reading a great story from Joel Spolsky on his experience procuring new office space in New York, when I saw a link to "More from" The list of links was right after the final paragraph of Joel's article, and one link in particular caught my eye: "11 Ways to Improve Your Website"

I expected an article with a list of things people can do to improve their sites. I'm always curious what kind of design and usability recommendations get printed in general business magazines. Instead of my expected article, what I got was this:

(click to view full-size)

This outstanding list of 11 tips from inspired my own list of 11 things. I hope you enjoy it.

11 Ways to Create a Bad Online Reading Experience.
1. Use a slideshow format for content poorly suited to a slideshow and that obviously was never a presentation.

2. Make it difficult to find the real "content" amidst all the ads. Put your content in graphics (or "illustrations"), put headings and text in colored boxes. Make ads look like text, and text look like ads...Good Idea!

3. Put 4-5 sentences on each page. Think "eyeballs", "pageviews" and "advertising."

4. Make users click "next slide" to navigate...hide the navigation in the top header below the article title, but above the graphic that repeats the article title.

5. Use a timer script to auto-advance from one "slide" to another...I'm sure you know exactly how fast most people read. Think "eyeballs", "pageviews" and "advertising."

5. Make the user scroll to see the last of your ridiculously small amount of content on each page.

6. Put content in graphics, and use the least important content as the "ALT" text. Accessibility? Who needs it!?

7. Write a crappy list of 11 "tips", each of which could have related articles or web sites...don't link to anything else. The Web is an island...and you own it.

8. Tell CIO's and business owners to flush their money down the toilet. Advise them to "create an avatar", use software to create "Amazon-style recommendations", and "build a widget". All money well least in the eyes of someone working at a magazine who can't separate hype from reality.

9. Package up shallow business advice so it sounds like you're patronizing your readers. Say things like "know your competitors", "be in charge", "identify your best customers", and "keep it simple."

10. Place a "Harvard Business School Executive Education" banner ad above your site header, so readers are confused about what site they're on. (Note, this also belongs on a list called "10 cheap, quick and easy ways to damage the HBS brand name.")

11. Provide no author credentials until after the "slideshow" is done. Okay, let's face it web readers recognize crap when they see don't want credit for this rubbish anyway.

See Also:
- The Web's Biggest Time-Wasters (Google is #1!)

May 07, 2008

Topping the list of things neither you nor your CIO ever want to know...

How To Master Microsoft Windows System Restore Points (CIO Magazine)

The fact that a magazine aimed at CIO's and technology leadership feels this kind of article relevant strikes me as a very telling statement on the state of technology today.

See also:
- Anti-virus tools
- Backup software
- Version Control tools
- PC Data Migration kits

Other candidates for the Top Ten List of Things You (and your CIO) Never Wanted to Learn About:
- How to Make Your Own Circuit Boards
- How to Resole Shoes
- How to Ride the Bus for Free in Santiago, Chile
- How to Freeze Your Dog's Poop
- 10 Ways to Get Kicked Off a Plane
- How to Adjust Your Car's Timing Belt
- Three Ways to Hypnotize a Chicken
- How to Make Handmade Paper in 10 Easy Steps
- How to Empty a Septic Tank
- How to Master the Etch-A-Sketch

April 21, 2008

Stupid Phrases Only a Tech Analyst Could Love

"Consolidated Web 2.0 Market" - Where do they come up with this stuff?

"The buying market for Web 2.0 technologies such as blogs, wikis and social networks will grow to $4.6 billion in 2013, predicts a Forrester Report released today."

"the number of vendors offering Web 2.0 software will likely shrink during the next few years as vendors such as IBM and Microsoft put a chokehold on the market."

I recall similar projections of the "Web Market" and "Portal Market" and others...all wrong in the end.

What they call "Web 2.0" is wrong...and by the time we get to 2013, "Web 2.0" will be considered the way we do "Web"...and someone will have coined a new phrase for the latest tech craze for what comes after "Web 3.0".

Only tech investors bother to listen to the tech analysts at the pulpit...or should I say altar of technology...when they spout this stuff. Of course, the analysts always predict that market leaders like IBM and MS will dominate the market of the future. Funny, I've never yet seen an analyst predict that a Google would rise out of nowhere...or that Apple would become a major force in the marketplace essentially, investors pay to be told that they should invest in "market leading" blue chips...for whom Web 2.0 is a minor business concern (i.e. small percent of their revenue/profit).

April 18, 2008

Disconnect for a day!

Reading this article:Movement grows for digital day of rest, I had to chuckle. Every year I make a point to vacation in a place where I absolutely can't get online. My favorite is the Boundary Waters in Northern Minnesota (Quetico on the Canadian side)'s glorious. No electricity, no Internet, no cell phone coverage in most areas, no running water, no TV, no radio...I bring no electronics (although I'm thinking about bringing my handheld GPS this year for routing purposes). It's a wilderness. One year I brought a portable depth finder for fishing...but only one year.

The peace and quiet is wonderful. You learn to appreciate the small things. Hot macaroni and cheese never tasted so good as after a long day's canoe paddle, setting up camp, collecting and purifying water by hand, and cooking dinner over a camp stove or your fire.

Check out from civilization for a day or'll love it...and appreciate civilization more when you get back. It's an experience that everyone should have.

April 10, 2008

A Flickr Collection of Search Patterns

Lou Rosenfeld of Bloug fame alerted me to a great collection of screenshots from different web sites that focuses on different search and search results patterns. It's cool to see a set of examples that allows designers to see how other sites provide search interaction without having to "root around" on the web. Peter Morville deserves credit for putting this collection together...what a great way to use Flickr!

View the Flickr Collection of Search Patterns

The collection includes examples of:
- Best Bets
- Faceted Navigation
- Auto-suggest
- Search Result Clustering
- Structured Search Results
- Search Result Pagination
- Advanced Search
- Social Search
- Enterprise Search
- Local Search
- Mobile Search
...and many others

Related Posts:
- Polishing your diamond search results

April 09, 2008

Delighting Customers - Article - Apogee

What does it take to delight customers?

My good friend Dan from Apogee in Hong Kong posted a nice, succinct article on how to delight your customers.

Of course, it's not a big stretch from delighting customers to delighting employees, volunteers, members, or other "users". But if you're reading this you probably already realize that Dan's maxim can be applied broadly when designing.

You'll note that Dan doesn't include "follow usability guidelines." In my experience, practicing User-Centered Design produces better results than strict adherance to guidelines. (Of course both together work extra-well.)

Related Posts:
- The Pursuit of Simplicity
- The trouble with usability guidelines

April 04, 2008

The Simple Truths of Service Movie

The Simple Truths of Service
This is an inspiring video about a grocery store bagger named Johnny, and how he changed his world.

The Simple Truths of Service

January 16, 2008

User Experience Specialist: One of Best Careers for 2008

U.S. News & World Report has announced

31 Careers With Bright Futures for 2008, saying the careers chosen "offer strong outlooks and high job satisfaction."

Here's their two-part profile of a Usability/User Experience Specialist career:

- Executive Summary - US News and World Report

- A Day in the Life

Of course, UX and usability jobs vary a lot. The "Day in the Life" is just an example. Many UX jobs are quite different...nevertheless, I'd highly recommend UX as a career.