In Extending a Technique: Group Personas, Mike presents a detailed walkthrough of the development of personas for group behavior (his example is a family at an amusement park). It’s a nice gloss on persona development, and worth reading whether you’re working with groups or individuals. In general, I’m a strong believer in persona/scenario development as a “way in” to designing an interface. I don’t put quite as much stock in personas as some people; I think they are extremely important for defining problems, but they just feel a bit unwieldy as an ongoing part of the design process - that whole “What would Glenda do?” thing. Anyhow, go read the article :)
Got a product promo for LIFT Text Transcoder, which auto-generates a text version of HTML pages. I have no idea how well it works, but I could see it being useful.
ReplayTV’s New Owners Drop Features That Riled Hollywood. This is not so surprising (if fairly lame). What caught my eye is the legal argument that it is the fact that Replay’s features are easy to use that make them potentially illegal:
The 30-second skip feature has long been available, if not widely used, on standard VCR’s as well. But program providers have not taken action against VCR manufacturers because those devices are generally more difficult to use.
“When things become too easy to do, that changes the legal argument,” said Mike Fricklas, executive vice president, general counsel and secretary of the board at Viacom, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Sonicblue.
So, while people often think of ease-of-use as an incrementally-changeable attribute, it is (in this view) a qualitative change with the potential to alter the fundamental nature (or at least the legal status) of the product.
I’ve always found heuristic evaluations one of the more useful usability methodologies. At first it seemed silly to me, but there’s something about forcing yourself to structure your evaluation of an interface that adds just the right amount of rigor to what is a fairly subjective process. Anyhow, Usability Heuristics for Rich Internet Applications is a nice discussion of how to apply Jakob’s standard heuristics to Flash interfaces.
Another gem from Scott at uiweb is his compilation of the Best of CHI-WEB and SIGIA-L, two lists that goodness knows need filtering.
Visiting Wendy’s grandmother in Wilmington, NC, I was reminded of how differently people interact with computers, when she said the following: “That little black arrow… I thought it was a bug crawling on your screen.”
The following quote from a usability test I recently conducted shows why it’s a bad idea to use greeked text in a test prototype: “I don’t know why you’d have multiple languages on this page.”
Nielsen-Norman has conducted usability tests on a bevy of Flash-based Web Applications and have put out a report based on the research. It’ll cost you $64, which ain’t much (although I do find it a bit hard to give those guys money).