Archive for the 'usability' Category

OpenID: Control, Security, User Experience

OpenID logoAfter first reading about OpenID, I started looking for WordPress plugins to get it working on my site. There were ux issues with each of the plugins I tried. I planned to compare them here, but after some investigation I’m reluctant to recommend OpenID because of control, privacy, and especially security concerns. There is much work already in progress to address these issues. Below I’ll describe OpenID, discuss some of the down sides, and offer a few recommendations if you want to try it out. Read the entire post: OpenID: Control, Security, User Experience

Adobe Buzzword Features & Accessibility

I’m intrigued by Adobe’s web-based word processor, Buzzword. (Adobe announced the purchase of the creator Virtual Ubiquity September 30th, 2007.) Buzzword is inviting to use, creates beautiful documents, has innovative file management and file sharing options. It’s built in Flex, using Flash (on the web) and AIR (on the desktop) so you can work online and offline. There are definitely areas where it has a ways to go in terms of features and accessibility.

During a demo, Rick Treitman, of Virtual Ubiquity, said “We don’t qualify as an accessible product, but Adobe has accessibility experts and I’m sure they’ll be crawling all over it.” Here’s hoping. He described Buzzword as an “ideal tool for students” and sees “students and educators as the bulk of early adopters.” Treitman indicated that they will be looking to Adobe to implement internationalization: “We’ve architected it properly to make that happen.” Documents can currently be saved as an MSWord doc, rich text file, html, or plain text. Encryption is not currently available.

screen shot of buzzword file list sorted by authorLike other web-based word processing platforms (e.g. Google Docs), you can share a document by entering someone’s email address. You can assign levels of access (co-author, reviewer, editor). You can sort your document list: alphabetically, by author, by your own roles, by last time you viewed the docs, by last time you modified them, and by file size. Read the entire post: Adobe Buzzword Features & Accessibility

Findability of Airport Arrivals and Departures

photo of arrivals and departures screen in savannah, georgiaI appreciate airports with arrival and departure screens that list flights alphabetically by destination city. I especially appreciate the larger screens: the airline logos stand out, making it possible to quickly eliminate flights that aren’t mine. Larger airports seem to sort by destination, but many airports list their flights in order of departure time. When the data is sorted by time, time is frequently not the first column, so you’re faced with first figuring out what the flights are organized by. I wish I was a more mellow travel cat and could say this only matters to me when I’m rushing to catch a connection and need gate information pronto. Alas, no…

Ultimately, I don’t think there’s an inherently ‘best’ field to sort by. The alphabetical order is perhaps the most quickly apparent, and knowing what I’m looking for is reassuring. I’m just as likely to need to check my print-out for my connection flight city, flight number, or departure time. I always have it within reach. Although departure time is the flight variable most likely to change, I just noticed in the photo that updated flight times are displayed in the ‘remarks’ column so the time column does not actually change.

Is this why A-Z pages are appealing when you can’t find what you’re looking for on a site?

Cancel / OK Ridiculous

screen grab of groupwise ok/cancel prompt
In Novell GroupWise 7 WebAccess, I frequently have to hit ‘cancel’ right after I click ‘send’ in order to make my email go. If you set GW to prompt before including a signature, after you click on ‘send’, you get the prompt in the screen grab. For a while I checked my sent items each time to make sure the email went after I hit ‘cancel.’ I still lose time hesitating on this when I haven’t been in WebAccess for a few days.

HighEdWebDev: Compelling User Experience

Day Three of HighEdWebDev 2007: Beck Tench of Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering did a great presentation: Designing Compelling User Experience (in Higher Education). Based on what I saw, I’d say Beck’s a gifted graphic designer and a natural teacher, involving the audience and making us forget we’re talking about some technical thing, showing images of turtles, mushrooms, flowers, washing machines and a high-waisted-shorts-wearing grown-up boy scout.

Beck raised the questions: How do you make an experience compelling? How do you build a space that people will love? How do you build something where people can come and get what they want and leave without being controlled? These are questions often being ignored in higher education where there’s a tendency to use narrow definitions of our audiences and to provide them narrow corridors in which to explore. Read the entire post: HighEdWebDev: Compelling User Experience