Information Architecture, Usability & Accessibility, Web development

FireFox extensions for Usability, Accessibility and SEO expertsMy 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.

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Information Architecture, Usability & Accessibility

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.
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I have been using Twitter for a littlewhile now. It is fast, very entertaining, and you can connect to and with friends, colleagues, business partners and like-minded people in your field.

A few days ago I spoke to a client of mine from a few years ago who wondered why his company was not using twitter for their own business since their RSS subscriber number was not that great (~150). The idea of his was to use twitter as a tool to show the more personal, more human side of the business, being able to interact with its customers and visitors, and engaging with similar companies, suppliers, even competitors. Well, that was the idea at least, and he asked me what I thought about that.

So what does twitter mean to a business? How can you make sure your business looks professional? Continue Reading

Flash Development, Web Design, Web development

So you have finally done it, you are a freelancer or have set up your own little design agency and you have your first clients with jobs coming in. And now comes the time that a project comes to the point where money is involved, be it just before the first 1/3 of the project is done or towards the end of the project. But what do you need to look out for? Where to go for resources if anything goes wrong?

Continue reading after the break for some strategies on how to invoice for your web design or web development work… Continue Reading

Information Architecture, Usability & Accessibility, Web Design

On Link usability - the art of keeping call to actions consistent 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

Web Design, Web development

On outsourcing work in the design industry - whatwasithinking.co.ukNot so long ago I received an email from a former student of mine who has just started up his own design studio asking whether or not outsourcing work to contractors, freelancers or studios makes sense and what to look out for.

Especially for upcoming design studios or companies / agencies who are lacking in a certain area (such as developers or Flash animators) it makes sense looking to outsource work to keep employment costs low and not having to worry about whether or not there will be enough work to keep someone (or a whole team) employed.

Read after the fold what to look out for… Continue Reading

Rants, Usability & Accessibility, Web Design, Web development

Please display PDF links properly! - Whatwasithinking.co.ukOver 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…

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Information Architecture, Usability & Accessibility

On Information Architecture and user-testing - Part 3 - Usability testing and Accessibility testingFollowing 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.
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