Web 3.0 2007-04-11

Now that we all are social bookmarking, collaborating and using wiki:s, let us look forward. At the next big thing on the web: 3.0. If Web 2.0 is about what to do with your friends online, web 3.0 is content and meaning online.

The humble ignorance of Swedbank 2007-03-24

Translated from Swedish to English to Common tongue

This is not the first time Swedbank relaunches their online banking service due to customer demand. What follows is a message greeting visitors at the moment:

Swedish: Nu har internetbanken fått ett nytt utsende och vi vill veta vad du tycker.

English: Today the online bank received a new face and we want to know what you think about it.

Common: We knew you wanted a better online bank, but we never really cared to find out what you really wanted this time, either. So, in hindsight, tell us if it was bad or good and let us repeat our mistakes.

Swedish: I arbetet med att ge internetbanken ett nytt utseende har vi också arbetat med användarvänligheten utifrån de kundsynpunkter som vi fått in.

English: In the work of giving the online bank a new face we have also adressed user friendliness from the customer feedback we have received.

Common: We honestly believe there is nothing more to usability than a pretty (inter)face.

Swedish: Vår målsättning är att det både ska vara lättare att överskåda informationen på sidorna samt förflytta sig mellan sidorna.

English: Our goal was to make it easier for you to get an overview of your information on the pages and navigate them.

Common: We never really bothered to dig deep into the fundamental problems people were complaining about. Hence the nonsensical rambling about something vague.

Swedish: För att göra sidorna mer överskådliga har vi till exempel lagt till en tonad bakgrund samt stödlinjer och på sidan Beställ tjänster har vi markerat varje beställningslänk med en punkt. Menyn högst upp till höger har också gjorts tydligare med hjälp av en avvikande bakgrundsfärg.

English: To facilitate an easy overview we have, as an example, added a gradient background and lines and on the Order page every order link has been marked with a dot. The menu at the top right has received an inverted background color to more easily draw your attention.

Common: Usability (and user friendliness) is not about accessibility, compatibility, ease of use, behavior or even how easy it is to understand. It is all in a pretty face.

Thanks to Jakob Persson for the link.

So, you make it easy for beginners? 2007-03-24

Do you?

I get that question a lot. And the obvious quick answer is yes, of course I do. However, first time users are often not the most important users when it comes to various aspects of software and hardware development and design. You are only a first time user for a very limited time. The rest of the time you are an experienced user with the needs of an experienced user. That is why it is more important to design for when users become experienced and design to let them become experienced. That transition is probably the most difficult task is in usability design today.

However, this does not mean that first time users and inexperienced users are not important. It is just that people learn, adapt and want to do slightly new things with their software. If you do your work right, users stay beginners fort only a short period of time.

This is an automated message, do not reply! 2007-03-19

The most stupid line ever to be written in an e-mail message. Ever. I have not yet found a single such automated message from an organisation, company or site that also does not also have customer service via e-mail.

This is also known as the "let's play hide 'n seek with our customers". If your company truly values customer experience you should never be afraid to put your support easily available.

Simple solution

Add your support@yourcompany.com to the reply-to: field of the automated e-mail. Also, most e-mails like this will contain an order number or similar. Add that to the subject: field and your folks in support will have no problem finding the correct information to use when the customer replies to your automated message.

Interaction And The Way of The Dodo 2007-03-17

John Gruber:

For example, I used to think the name itself was a bit odd. SXSW Music is about music. SXSW Film is about movies. But Interactive? I haven'€™t seen anyone use that term to describe what they’re working on since pre-Web days multimedia CD-ROMs.

What about Interaction design then? Should we retire the phrase altogether and replace it with, what?

What makes what we do –€” where by –we–€ I loosely mean all of us whose creative output are things like markup and source code –€” so hard to encapsulate is that it's both art and science.

Well said. About SxSW: I wish I were there.

How the World Really Shapes Up # 2007-03-05

It was a while ago since I posted any interesting visualisation. The Daily Mail has an article depicting land area as a function of e.g. alcohol consumption or war deaths; the area correlates to the percentage of world total each country brings to the table. Via Daring Fireball.

Adaptive Interfaces 2007-03-05

Jono DiCarlo, of Humanized, wrote Are Adaptive Interfaces the Answer?:

What was the problem? Adaptive interfaces have several drawbacks, and the big one is that they're intrinsically hard to learn. If you're trying to learn an adaptive interface, you have to chase after a moving target: "Where did that menu item go? It was here yesterday...". Even a user experienced with the interface will have a hard time habituating to it, since the locations of commands are not consistent. It's an interface that moves in the night.

A good and insightful article as a whole, however, Jono DiCarlo falls short on the possible reason for adaptive interfaces are hard to learn. Even though he actually mention "where did it go?" Todays graphical user interfaces are, graphical (well, of corse they are). They give the user a spatial way of mentally organizing their knowledge on how the interface works and where their stuff are and where to find functionality.

Actually, few interfaces are completely spatial, most are semi-spatial (for good or bad, however that is a subject for another time), but most stuff stay where they are. Therefore, remembering the place of something is easy. It is when that thing suddenly is not there anymore that the user get confused.

Not all adaptive interfaces are bad, handwriting recognition has since long proven to apply adaptive methods to improve performance. That takes me to the point: if the user does not have to learn something new when the system adapts, the interface stays the same in the eye of the observer.

So instead of that, we prefer to have Enso's behavior change only when the user tells it to change. Remember that you can "UNLEARN" any Open command -- even Open commands that Enso found in your Start menu. This lets you customize any Open command. So for instance, if you don't like typing "Open Microsoft Word", you can do "Unlearn Open Microsoft Word", and then "Learn As Open Word" or even "Learn As Open W".

I would like to disagree, Enso would do just fine being adaptive, responding to frequent user actions because there are no spatial elements in the Enso interface such as those found in the Microsoft Office menus. Actually, the Enso interface is more akin to verbal communication and behavior than most other interfaces. The functionality where the user explicitly teaches Enso to do stuff could very well live side by side with an adaptive interface.


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