links for 2 February 2006

a bit of a mixed bunch today… reflects my day in the office I suppose.

  • adaptive path ยป get out of your lab, and into their lives unsurprisingly states that usability testing should not rely on usability labs, but that we need to test users in their real environment/context. Particularly true for mobile applications. Nothing really new here but its worth being regularly reminded. (tags: usability testing)
  • Meet the Life Hackers – New York Times Part of the reason that you need to test applications in context is that people don’t get to spend an hour or so uninteruptted with your application, as they might in a one on one session in a usability lab. This article discusses research recently completed in which each employee studied spent only 11 minutes on any given project before being interrupted and whisked off to do something else. What’s more, each 11-minute project was itself fragmented into even shorter three-minute tasks, like answering e-mail messages, reading etc. (tags: design usability informationoverload, attentionscarcity HCI)

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i’ve been reading other people’s blogs for such a long time now that I can’t even remember when I first knew about blogging. I know I was definitely reading blogs about 3 or 4 years ago because that’s when I first started writing about them. Writing, offline that is. A lot of the time for my Masters degree.

For the last couple of years I’ve been reading blogs (well, really mostly RSS feeds) extensively. There are dozens that I try to keep up with on an almost daily basis (which is more or less impossible, I’m still working on strategies to manage all the information I want to keep up with!). In that time I’ve been reading a lot of blogs that I’ve found relevant to the type of work I was doing (being a web producer at an agency), but also ones that I followed personally – either due to my non-work interests, or because the writers of the blogs have become like virtual friends of mine – not that any of them would know it!

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first? last? as you go? (when do you design the homepage?)

i was reading Derek Powazek’s article on A List Apart this morning in which he talks about the mysteries and wonders of designing a site homepage. Its a well documented struggle, I think. In many cases, its really all your client is worried about. Derek’s clients must be either incredibly well educated in design process, or on copious amounts of valium, if he really does what he says and designs the homepage last.

I wonder if he really does that. I mean, I’ve been known to say that’s what I do, but most of the time what actually happens is that the homepage evolves iteratively as the rest of the site is nutted out in detail. I’d agree that the homepage is probably one of the last pages to be totally finished, but its certainly not, in my experience, the last one to be started.

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