Archive for the ‘usability’ Category

tracking visitor movements

June 12, 2007

I was thinking it would be nice to see the movements of the visitors to our web sites (mouse move, click etc) and had just started to collect mouse movement and scroll action javascript snippets when I thought it was best to check if anybody else had got something going.  I though Google Analytics might have spomething like this built in, but if it does, I can’t find it.  But a few services are out there, and I am going to give them a try, they are: crazyegg, robotreplay and tapefailure.  If anybody has experimented I would be plaesed to hear of your experiences.

David.

Open Source usability

June 8, 2007

Recently at the non-profit we needed a package to manipulate images for our latest project (which I might talk about sometime in the future). Somebody mentioned that we just use GIMP, at which the poor sod that had to do the work shuddered, it would save the organisation a couple of hundred pounds but his face said it all, he was horrified.

I am a big GIMP fan, it has huge power for a free application, however, I also recognise that it one of the most unfriendly applications I have ever used. Considering that the competition costs several hundred pounds, i.e. PhotoShop and PaintShopPro, there is a great opportunity to improve the interface and sell it as a low cost alternative to people that don’t want to spend loads of money.

A few years ago during my time as Business Manager at University College London I got myself involved in a great project called openusability.org, which was set up to involve usability professionals in open source projects (nobody argued with the principle that many Open Source apps could do with major design improvements).

I was already interested in usability of open source applications. Eventually though I could not find a way to make collaboration work with the university and I moved on. However, I though I would do a search on “gimp usability” and I came accross the blog of a GIMP programmer and noticed that openusability have arranged for a usability person to help the team. Also, an article last year on NewsForge brought up the subject and the comments about the package are fantastic reading, there is a lot of passion out there. Will  it be possible for a usability person to make the changes, read the history and user experiences in those comments and make up your own mind. I think that the barriers to change are more political than design or technical. A usability person can’t change that. But maybe I am wrong, and I hope I am, let’s hope the openusability inspired project works out, read the latest on m+mi works blog

David.

Great tool for prototyping

June 7, 2007

I have discovered a great firefox extension for prototyping called platypus. It allows you to remotely, add and manipulate elements of web pages without needing access to the source or any other technical garb. I will post a couple of screenshots showing how I have put it to good use. Why did I not know about this when studying for my Masters??

Organic search results at Google

June 3, 2007

Seth Godin has a nice link to an NY Times article on Google’s department for search rankings, and he states that the only future way to guarantee rankings is to rely on producing naturally popular content.  After spending some months working at my non-profit doing my best to learn about how best to market our online services I tend to agree with Seth, but not entirely. 

 Most respectable SEOs will agree that links to websites are the major contributing factor, but design of content to best fit Google’s idea of well structured, is no different than employing marketing to design materials that are suited to a target audience. 

I commented on the idea that SEO, Usability and Accessibility are converging to Bill Slawski, the SEO by the Sea,  and his well articulated response in the comment section to his article on mindmapping audiences and tasks convinces me that we are right, and that there is indeed convergence.

Perhaps SEO has been filling a gap in the market for decent quality online marketers and pragmatic usability professionals.  Certainly old media marketing companies have been slow to see the opportunities for Internet search advertising in organic results.  And usability professionals are an exclusive bunch that have charged a lot of money for results that all too often unquantified by anything more than a few usability test results.

But maybe the gap is closing although I would say that SEO is so far ahead it will take some time marketing and usability professionals to catch up.