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World Usability Day is over

World Usability Day was a big success! The web site hiccupped only a little as we maxed out at about 400 simultaneously visitors (rough count). Parts of the site were dynamic (db-intensive) and we were ready to take those features down if needed to keep the whole site running, but that never had to be done.

Press coverage was more than I expected and now we wait for the stories from each event to roll in. [broken links removed 2006-Sep-16]

I now get to relax and enjoy DUX.

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The last beer of a 36 hour day

World Usability Day has been keeping me busy. I am learning a lot about CivicSpace (see the case study).

The map is our "cool" feature but it has been a challenge getting it to work on most browsers. We are a vicitm of our own success - with so many events, the map is becoming slow.

I will be flying out to DUX in San Francisco just as the New Zealanders kick off the big day. My final "job" will be to help close World Usability Day at the DUX reception, even if it means having to drink the last beer. A dirty job, someone has to do it!

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Ask Frances West about the "future" of building accessibility into your business plans

Frances West, director of IBM's Worldwide Accessibility Center, is CIO magazine's October Ask the Expert. Here is the page of questions she has answered.

I wonder if my link is going to break when they realize they put this page in the 2006 directory. And Frances must be able to tell the future because it states this on the page as I write this blog:

West answered your questions about regulation compliance and how to build accessibility into your business plans from October 1 until October 31, 2006.

Some links to IBM's worldwide accessibilty centers:

Gamer designer's delight

If you are a Toledo-area game designer, you have two choices next week for driving a few hours to world-class events in the region.

You can drive a few hours north to Michigan State to attend Future Play, October 13-15. Of note:

  • Sex and Gender Issues in Games
  • Game Design and Development Curriculum in Academia
  • Experiences, Stories and Video Games
  • Understanding and Enhancing the Players Experience
  • Using improvisational acting to shatter disciplinary boundaries

Or, you can drive a few hours south to Shawnee State to attend the Shawnee Conference 3.0 for Interactive Digital Technology, October 14. A few topics from the conference:

  • Gaming & Simulation: Serious Business
  • Ben's Game, a free video game where the player fights cancer cells
  • Game Research and Immersive Design

Both look interesting - send me a trip report if you go!

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Getting fed by IBM

A few months ago, I started collecting feeds from IBM and the various IBMers who are blogging. I wanted to see what was out there, figuring some would be worth subscribing to.

I put off finishing the chore. Procrastination pays off yet again, as someone else does it for me:

Next, we need to go from something you can browse (lists) to an interface where you can find specifically what you are looking for.

Star Trek and breadcrumbs

Jared Spool offers his opinion on the value of breadcrumbs, referencing my breadcrumb analysis.

I would have to agree with Jared that breadcrumbs are most useful to tell users "where they are" - location breadcrumbs - when they "teleport" to a deep page within a site.

For example, this page on Star Trek teleporting has a breadcrumb that makes it pretty easy to see where I am within the sciforums site. For this BBC article on teleporting without a breadcrumb, it is harder to tell at first glance if this article is actually "science" or "tv".

The jury is still out on attribute breadrumbs. In database-driven sites, there often is not 1 "true" location for a piece of content. What I call "attribute breadcrumbs" - a list of locations for a given object - might help out here. For example, the attribute breadcrumbs for this book on teleportation tell me at a glance that this book is more about spirituality than science. In a real bookstore, there is 1 place on the shelf - attribute breadcrumbs show all of the locations the book may have been placed. We need some research here to see if/when these breadcrumbs help.

There does not appear to be as much value for path breadcrumbs on sites. The browser does an acceptable, but not perfect, job of keeping track of a user's path.

Anyway, designing a page that stands alone and does not require the user to start at your site home page has always been wise. Breadrcumbs are one tool at your disposal for this.

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Tasty experiences

Welcome, Blue Flavor, four guys who list the experience economy as something they believe in. I wonder what these two guys think of this?

Business+Design: Jess McMullin

Jess just started up bpplusd.org, his blog on the intersection of business and design.

His information architecture gives you a sense of the direction he is going: Books, People, Schools, Firms, Events.

As far as topics, "design thinking" is the early focus (but it has been only 2 weeks). Peter Merholz mentions it too - must be the latest buzz-phrase.

Also, in his about bplusd post, there is a non-working link to the CPH127 discussion. Just a simple typo in Jess's HTML, which I am sure he will fix when he gets back from CANUX.

Books to read

I have more books than usual on my "need to read" shelf.

This blog entry is less for you and more for me. I need a nudge to go beyond just skimming them.

Access by design
Subtitle: "A Guide to Universal Usability for Web Designers". Appears to be a nice update to all of those "visual design meets HTML" web design books from the 90s.
Return on customer
The value of your company is determined by how happy your customers are.
Search engine marketing, Inc.
Mike Moran is amazing. Search technology meets marketing for the long haul (vs. sleazy, short-term marketing).
High performance MySQL
Most is over my head, but Jeremy is a former student of mine, so I want to see what he has written.
The art of project management
"How not to annoy people" is the first chapter I read.
The simplicity survival handbook and Simplicity
I love books that talk about UCD "from the outside". For Jensen, making things simpler to know requires us to be user-centered.
Perspectives on web services
"Perspectives" writing style is good, but end-user and UI designer perespectives on web services need to come next.
Web application design handbook
I do not do much with web apps on ibm.com today, but want a reference manual for when the time comes.
Emotional design
I have heard Don talk on this topic several times, knew a used copy of the book would be worth the price.
Radical innovation
I met one of the authors at a local conference, want to read the IBM stories.

Ambient findability

The Lemur book is almost out - using my B&N gift card to go order it now.

This also marks the launch of good Peter's blog - not to be confused with Peter, Peter nor Peter (I forget which of the other Peters is bad/mean/saintly/etc).

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