================================================== WebWord.com Newsletter "Usability & the Internet" ================================================== List Owner John S. Rhodes John@WebWord.com .................................................. January 29, 2000 Newsletter #40 .................................................. Table of Contents 1. Who is Jakob Siegal? 2. Reader Feedback: How Useful is Cool? (Part I) 3. Reader Feedback: How Useful is Cool? (Part II) 4. Reader Feedback: Wal-mart.com 5. International Usability: The Community Doesn't Exist? 6. Request: International Usability Resources 7. What Can You Find at WebWord.com? - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ITEM #1 A new WebWord.com interview is now online: --> http://webword.com/interviews/flanders.html "Who is Jakob Siegal?" Vincent Flanders knows why web pages suck. He wrote the book on it, literally. His Web Pages That Suck web site, which was turned into a book, is one of the best out there for folks that want to learn how to create better web sites. He understands why sites are so bad. And, he's witty. I asked Vincent several questions, such as: * What are the three most common things web designers do to ruin their web pages? * Within some context of your choice, describe the perfect web page. * Imagine that you suddenly had the power to launch an attack against every single web page on the internet. What would you eliminate or destroy in your moment of glory? You can read the interview here: --> http://webword.com/interviews/flanders.html - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ITEM #2 Reader Feedback: How Useful is Cool? (Part I) In the last WebWord.com newsletter (#39) I pointed to a site that used some code to produce an effect that seemed pretty useless to me... http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Orchard/6104/ Here is some reader feedback about that effect: From James, a Micromuse Web Administrator: "Very good point about the crosshair script John. After thinking it was a 'cool' effect for about 10 seconds, enough to look at the code, it began to annoy me intensely, as there was no way to stop it. The same goes for the annoying yet clever effect at <http://stud1.tuwien.ac.at/~e9227474/english.htm>, a site for a useful thumbnail creation product. "A lot of the new commercial sites opening here in Britain seem to be creative driven and very big on design that looks good but has little functionality and is very heavy - some even demand that the user is using a fast web connection and has a Shockwave plug-in, this annoys even users who have both. The prime example is <http://www.boo.com> . "What the grid script could be used for, with much modification, would be to box select with two clicks an area of a picture for enlargement, eg a map, but this would not be totally intuitive. "Great newsletter and site, keep it up." James, thanks for the comments. It is my impression that for every new web usability professional, there are about 30 new designers that don't care about the customer experience. Perhaps this is harsh, and perhaps this will make people angry. However, I know that when I am designing sites I design what *I* like. I am a victim of my own design whims, just like everyone else. It is only when I test users and perform usability evaluations do I see the site from the outside. What do others think? Comments? Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ITEM #3 Reader Feedback: How Useful is Cool? (Part II) Here's what Sean Lindsay, Editor of DisabilityTimes.com, had to say: "Apart from the general silliness of the 'cool document crosshair' effect (which as you've probably noticed significantly reduces readability on the page), there are some legitimate uses for such scripted effects, and unfortunately one huge drawback. "It is possible in IE5 to change the cursor image using just style sheets. I've used it to ensure that a script-driven text button appears exactly like a regular hyperlink, with a 'hand' cursor. This helps people understand that it's a clickable function. "Of course, by declaring styles for various classes of hyperlinks, designers could use different cursor images to indicate different kinds of links, eg a PDF symbol for PDF download links, a credit card for an ecommerce link, email icon for a mailto: link, etc. It's a method of giving the user more information about the link they're about to click on. "There's even a company that markets a 'browser add-on' which provides a complex way for designers to achieve the same effect: http://www.cometcursor.com/ Who even have their very own privacy scare (Wired, 30 Nov 1999): http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,32788,00.html "The feature does have some value for children's websites, where changing cursors could be used as a reading aid. "The drawback of this is that the information about the link is stored in a location that is inaccessible to blind users. Plus a flickery cursor changing to previously unseen images is potentially confusing to any user, let alone users with cognitive disabilities. "It's better to label links on the page, in a degradable way. See for example the use of icons on my website, to indicate external links and email links: http://www.DisabilityTimes.com/ This also showcases URLs without file extensions, that we discussed some time ago. For example the website's Accessibility Policy is: http://www.disabilitytimes.com/about/policy/accessibility "If you're viewing the site in IE, you'll see the (positive) effect of the cursor style sheet. In the navigation bar is a link entitled 'Bookmark this Page!'. This is actually a script button, marked up with styles so it appears as a hyperlink. It makes its function clearer, I believe." Sean, great comments. Very useful and very informative. Visit Disability Times Today... --> http://www.DisabilityTimes.com - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ITEM #4 Reader Feedback: Wal-mart.com From Mary Beth Restivo: "I read with great interest the comments about WalMart's new site. I wanted to let you in on what I consider a very well run site: petsmart.com "With 10 pets (2 dogs, 7 cats and a rabbit), I've set up an account thru their site for automatic deliveries. I admit it did take a couple of tries to get the quantities and delivery times right. That was mostly because I wasn't sure how much stuff I go thru in a month. But now I don't even have to think about it. "And as far as responsiveness, they are great. I've emailed them on a few occasions about some items. Initially, there were specific products I wanted to see on the site; a particular type of cat litter and a specific type and size bag of dog food. Well, they emailed me back within a couple of days (apologizing for the delay!) saying my items would be added within a month. And they were. Now that's what I call customer satisfaction! "I'll tell you, toysrus.com could take some lessons from petsmart.com. Even with the holidays, I was able to order extra items (mostly Christmas presents) online from petsmart.com and they showed up within a week. No excuses, no 'sorry we didn't anticipate the large volume'. They've got their act together." Mary Beth, thanks for the comments. Hearing what people experience on the front lines is very useful. It shows us how to treat, or not treat, our own customers. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ITEM #5 International Usability: The Community Doesn't Exist? Why is it so hard to find information on usability around the world? I've looked around quite a bit and, to my dismay, there is a dearth of information. Here are a few items I found on Jakob Neilen's useit.com: International Web Usability --> http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9608.html International Usability Testing --> http://www.useit.com/papers/international_usetest.html But the question is still there. Why is there is so little information on usability as it applies to different cultures and different countries? In my experience, there are few firms outside the United States that do usability testing. It is impossible, in my mind, to think that usability is mainly an American thing. Yes, I know that there are interface design and usability companies in New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain, and the like. But, they are basically "Americanized" in my opinion. Can someone please tell me what's going on. Email me at email@example.com - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ITEM #6 Request: International Usability Resources On the heels of item #5 above... I'm looking for international usability stories and information. I'd like to expand the scope of WebWord.com to cover these issues around the globe. If you know of resources or if you have content to share please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org -- My request was on the home page of WebWord.com a few days ago. Here's some early feedback from Carlos R. Tirado of Tremendo.com <http://tremendo.com>: "Alejandro Floría Cortés from Zaragoza in Spain, has some work available on the web (in Spanish of course), with the title 'Usabilidad y Diseño Centrado en el Usuario" meaning: "User centered usability and design', at the following URL: http://www.entrelinea.com/usabilidad/presentacion.htm "Alejandro cares about usability a lot, and has communicated with Spanish 'webloggers' Gustavo Arizpe (http://estrategica.editthispage.com/), Raúl R. (http://www.subte.com/index.shtml) and me (http://tremendo.com/bitacora/) and some consultants in Argentina, hoping to create a spanish-speaking community on usability. He can be reached at email@example.com ." Thanks Carlos. I hope that other readers from around the world share their ideas and resources. I'd be happy to put together an Internal Usability Resources Page on WebWord.com, but I'll need your help. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ITEM #7 What Can You Find at WebWord.com? Articles (Moving WebWord) <http://webword.com/moving/> Expert Interviews <http://webword.com/interviews/> Recommended Books <http://webword.com/books/booksindex.html> Newsletter Archive <http://webword.com/archive> Usability Reports <http://webword.com/reports> Recommended Web Sites <http://webword.com/hotsites.html> Free Stuff <http://webword.com/freestuff.html> Friends <http://webword.com/friends.html> ---- End of WebWord.com Usability Newsletter #40 ------ (c)1998-99 by John S. Rhodes. All rights reserved.
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