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How to validate the success of navigation

Card sorting is excellent for finding patterns in how people categorize information. Iain Barker offers a simple and low-cost method for validating proposed classifications schemes.


  • Measuring the Success of a Classification System Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 25, 2007

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See also: Card sorting (11)  Navigation (56) 



Personas are useless when it comes to design

Leisa Reichelt asks "...are personas actually useful or should we stop wasting time and ditch them?"

Her answer is yes, personas are useful, but not to guide design decisions. They are rather a means of establishing a user centred design process and helpful guides during requirement definitions.


  • Yes, you should be using personas Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 24, 2007 - via Usability In The News

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See also: Personas (17) 



Visio - the interaction designer's nail gun (3rd edition)

The Q2 2007 issue of GUUUI is a third edition of an article on using Visio for rapid prototyping for the web. The new edition includes a minor update of the GUUUI Web Prototyping Tool that eliminates a major shortcoming: the inability to create scrolling pages. The update also includes brand new sketchy interface widgets.


Henrik Olsen - April 08, 2007

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See also: Prototyping and wireframing (52)  Tools (66) 



Bill Buxton on sketching and prototyping user interfaces

In this 1.5 hour video, Bill Buxton talks about sketching and prototyping user interfaces.

To Bill Buxton, sketching is fundamental to ideation while prototyping is an evaluation technique. In ideation, the goal is to come up with many different ideas. In evaluation, you narrow down choices of ideas. Sketching is a way of "getting the right design" while prototyping is "getting the design right."


  • Bill Buxton's talk on sketching and prototyping Open link in new window
  • Jared Spool's summary of the talk Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 03, 2007 - via UIE Brain Sparks

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See also: Prototyping and wireframing (52)  Audio and video (23)  Talks and presentations (12) 



Do we need user research?

Current thinking in user-centered design prescribes that all projects should include initial user research. To Dan Saffer, this is a false dogma. Lots of projects, such as the Mac OS X, have turned out fine without any research at all.

According to Dan Saffer, we should only use design research when:

1. We don't know the subject area well
2. The project is based in a culture different to our own
3. We don't know who the users are
4. The product is one we'd never use ourselves
5. The product contains features for specific types of users
6. We need inspiration
7. We need empathy
8. We don't have much design expertise

These guidelines could apply to every design project. But the point is that we should "...stop thinking of it as a necessary approach to design and start thinking of it as just a helpful tool."


  • Research Is a Method, Not a Methodology Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - March 18, 2007

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See also: User research (18) 



Book: Effective Prototyping for Software Makers

In January 2007, a new book on prototyping was published. It's a practical step-by-step book on how to create rapid paper and computer generated prototypes.

The book covers issues such as choosing prototyping method, deciding on fidelity, diagramming flows, evaluating prototypes, and how to create prototypes using different approaches and tools. It also has a short chapter on interface design guidelines.

The book is impressive 624 pages. The authors have reached this high volume by operating with a somewhat broad definition of what a prototype is (for example card sorting is called prototyping) and by explaining prototyping as an process composed of a myriad of phases and steps.

The exhaustive step-by-step approach might be educational for those new to prototyping. To me, it makes prototyping appear as an overwhelming and rigid undertaking rather than a creative and playful one.


  • The book at Open link in new window
  • The book at Open link in new window
  • Companion website with sample chapters Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 21, 2007

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See also: Books (44)  Prototyping and wireframing (52) 



Usability improvements are worth money for non-commercial sites and intranets

According to Jakob Nielsen, it's a fallacy to believe that only commercial sites can profit from usability. The public sector can realize economic value from making people able to complete self-service transactions, non-profits from increased donations, and intranets from increased employee productivity.

Government agencies typically benefit significantly from usability improvements because they have a large base of users. In one example, Jakob estimates that a state agency could get a return-on-investment of 22,000% by fixing a basic usability problem.


  • Do Government Agencies and Non-Profits Get ROI From Usability? Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 12, 2007

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See also: Cost-justification and ROI (24)  Intranets (2) 



Turn Photoshop projects into working prototypes

Altia has released a new tool called PhotoProto that translates Photoshop files into clickable prototypes. By arranging screens and widgets in layer combs and naming them with special keywords, PhotoProto can automatically turn projects into working prototypes.

The prototypes can be viewed in a browser with the ProtoPlay browser plug-in installed.


  • Altia PhotoProto Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 12, 2007 - via IxDA

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See also: Tools (66)  Prototyping and wireframing (52) 



Free usability reviews of web sites

The site is an interesting concept. Submit a site and get the participants' views on your usability questions.


  • Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 11, 2007 - via DigitalWeb

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See also: Tools (66)  Expert reviews (9) 



Do we read web pages in an F-shaped pattern?

SURL has done an eyetracking study to investigate whether users follow the F-shaped pattern suggested by Jakob Nielsen when reading and scanning web pages.

Findings from the study:

- When reading or scanning text, users appear to follow by the F-pattern
- When scanning a page with a grid of product pictures, the F-pattern doesn't seem to hold true
- On the product picture pages, the area above the fold received significant more attention than the area below

The authors suggest that we should structure web pages so that important content falls in the F-pattern and that important or featured products on picture pages should be positioned above the fold.


  • Eye Gaze Patterns while Searching vs. Browsing a Website Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - January 30, 2007

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See also: Research (103)  Web page design (31)  Eye-tracking (14) 

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