My day to day work consists of a lot of time spending on the internet, looking at web presences of current clients, prospective clients and their (and our) competition. My tool of the trade being FireFox 3 (especially considering that IE seems to have a little problem). I am using a number of addons which really help my work-flow in the fields of usability, accessibility, SEO and occasionally information architecture.
I was asked by a couple of fellow twitter users to divulge my plugin list, and since I keep track of them myself at times I thought this post would come in handy for everyone.
It has been a couple of weeks since I last wrote about Information Architecture, be it IA and user testing or designing for the mobile web in mind, and I want to talk about a topic today which relates somewhat to a somewhat new-ish step in Information Architecture, namely the integration of user retention and user interaction.
It is not news to anyone that I – like so many – enjoy video games, come on, it is a multi-million pounds industry. Game publishers have sought to expand their marketing influence in a number of new ways, some of them have started using social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Digg, etc to promote their games either via their own channels, or via publicity stunts (Wii Fit girl anyone?). The message is clear – generate interest, generate sales. Since the company I work for has just signed a deal with a UK-based games publisher with Japanese roots and a European charm I have been looking more into the information architecture of this (still rapidly growing) market, which in turn has opened another door or two for additional potential clients.
Not so long ago I was asked by a client, if it was possible to change a couple of sections within their site as they just updated their product structure: the client was expanding their products to list two more categories. To make them stand out, their marketing team was thinking of using different colours throughout the main content area so that is looks much more consistent, which included changing all link colours and buttons to these new colours.
As a designer you have probably faced a similar situation before – can I or can I not change the link colours on certain pages to keep a consistent look and feel?
Yes, you can, but you shouldn’t ever. Here is why… Continue Reading
Cuil, the new search engine looking for relevancy rather than popularity has seen the light of day today. Developed by former Google employees,it claims to be able to crawl through 120 billion pages (that is 3x more than Google and 10x more than Microsoft’s Live search). But what does it actually do and how does it perform?
Well I had had the chance to play around with it today, and I must say I am not overly impressed. Aside from the high server load and time-outs I managed to find either one of the two things:
- Nothing, or
- Anything but what I was after
Please read on to read more about my thoughts and usability concerns about Cuil… Continue Reading
Over the last couple of months I have been working on a great number of design, usability and accessibility reports for clients of mine. Some of the sites I worked on are pretty good, and all you can recommend is maybe tightening up their call-to-actions or look at a couple of points of Section 508 to validate properly. Then there are some that need a bit more help than that. That is natural, some of the sites have been up for years and could do with a new design or will need some more development work.
But what gets me going of late is the inability of some websites to display their PDFs properly…
Following my previous article we are now going to put our website prototype to a first test before we begin developing the website. While the functionality and navigation makes sense to us – after all, we just spent the last week(s) working on it – we need to ensure it works the same way for others as well. We understand how we get from a destination page to the product or trip we are after and finally to the enquiry page – but will anyone else do so as well?
Usability testing will reveal if the flow of the site works, and accessibility testing will ensure that our site complies to any relevant accessibility guidelines.
Following my previous article about Information Architecture and user-testing you we came to the point where we have researched quite a bit into the client’s company: we know the brand, we know the product(s) and its userbase, and we have acquired demographics of the target market. It is now up to us to design and develop the client’s website.
Many of the designers I worked with in the past have then gone and worked on first mock-ups of the home page and a product page – nicely designed and with a bit of flash here or there – which they then sent to the client to get feedback and develop a new or final draft of these pages. And then they went off and started developing the website, without much (or any at all!) time spent on the information architecture or usability (and accessibility) of the client’s website. In today’s article I want to go through a couple of best practice approaches to information architecture and usability for Business-to-customers (B2C) websites. Continue Reading
Following up on the previous article you may have some idea about if the mobile web is something for your company and your products. You have probably looked at your target audience by now, you know what users are going to look for on your website, how they find it, what information they read on your website that is related to the product, and you have a clear picture in your mind what content you want to promote for a mobile device user.
The question is now, how do you begin? What do you need to look out for, and what is a best-practise approach? Continue Reading