Patrick Lynch is the Director of Yale University School of Medicine’s Web Design and Devlopment unit. His personal website contains great commentary about the role of design, fantastic lists of books relevant to web design, and links to other sites for information about web design. Patrick has been practicing great design and pioneered the Yale Style Guide. This is a must read for anyone interested in web design.
As designers we often forget that people use websites and products to accomplish tasks and goals. These tasks and goals are often very clear when designing an ecommerce site, or a web-based mail client. Often the tasks and goals are based on existing processes and applications, as in the case of a web-based mail client or in the case of online shopping. It is possible to design new features that remove the frustrations of the existing real-world processes.
Identifying tasks and goals
In the field of ergonomics, identifying the tasks and goals has been studied using a variety of different techniques ranging from:
- Task Analysis
- Think aloud protocols
- Ethnographic observations
- Work process modeling
Recently there has been a focus in the HCI/Usability/Interface Design communities on Contextual Inquiry and Design as a way to model work, and the tasks that users need to complete. This is a great method for gathering data to make design decisions, however like the other methods it is not without it’s flaws. Contextual Inquiry (CI) is an intense, and comprehensive method for interviewing and observing users, collecting data, and interpreting the observations in to work models. CI can be a long, involved process that does not guarrantee high quality results.
This is a very interesting article about information scent and predictive software. The concept of information scent is an interesting one, it has been proposed . The article describes the “Bloodhound”; program developed by Ed Chi and Stu Card at Xerox PARC. The program has a predictive model of human behaviour that allows it to predict the path a user would take in traversing a web site for a given target. First Bloodhound takes a snapshot of a web space and then assigns a vector to each page. The software then compares the vectors mathematically and follows the “scent” until it reaches the goal. This is a great example of how HCI research into cognitive models and information process in starting to be applied to design tools.
Eazel was unable to secure additional funding to continue their development of the Nautilus product. Eazel was the brain child of Andy Hertzfeld, who was a member of the original Macintosh system software. Eazel was an open source development project focused on the innovative file and system management model. It is too bad, as Eazel appeared to be on of the first efforts to bring Linux to the rest of us.
Douglas Adams, author of The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, passed away suddenly on Friday morning of a heart attack. Adams was a great SF writer and was known to embrace technology. He was an Apple Master and had produced a number of video games including A Hitch Hiker’s Guide the the Galaxy, Bureaucracy, and Starship Titanic.
“There was a point to this story, but it has temporarily escaped the chronicler’s mind.”
David Crow brings diverse skills to software product design and development, the design of web sites, and web-based applications.
No matter where you are in your product development lifecycle, we’ll work with you to build the best customer experience.
User Experience Design & Consulting
User Research, Requirements Gathering, Information Design, Interaction Design, Site Maps, User Scenarios, Personaes, Contextual Inquiry, Information Architecture, Wireframes
User Testing, Discount Usability Methodologies, Expert Evaluation, Product Evaluation, Competitive Evaluation