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Breadcrumb short paper accepted

I am the third author, with James Blustein and his student Ishtiaq Ahmed, on a short paper that was accepted for Hypertext 05 (Austria, September).

"An Evaluation of Menu Breadcrumbs for the WWW" reports on an experiment with an advanced type of breadcrumb.

I contributed with the background research, advising and a small bit of writing - the real work was done at Dalhousie.

I will not be able to go to the conference. The last Hypertext conference I attended was 2000 in San Antonio - and that was only to present a tutorial. I honestly cannot recall which one was the last one I attended in full, but I went to several in the mid-90s.

The proceedings are always interesting to read - I will have to recap some of my favorites someday.

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Bridget van Kralingen on "relationship fidelity"

IBM Global Managing Partner Bridget van Kralingen (not "von" as her name was originally spelled) is quoted in Inside 1to1 concerning "relationship fidelty": making sure your day-to-day customers' experiences are actually in line with the high-level brand promises.

It is a challenge to have ibm.com deliver on behalf of the IBM brand, that is for sure. An extremely fun and rewarding challenge.

Her call to measure integrity, empathy, and trust (and not just efficiency, speed, relevance) are in sync with the recent user experience movement to pay more attention to emotion in design.

I also like her point about direct customer insight, instead of relying too much on indirect data.

I am a little confused about deciding when marketing and when operations make the final call. Are more than just those 2 groups making decisions? This seems pretty black-and-white: who is in charge of the grey area in between? Let's make the final call based on customer needs, which trump marketing and operations, no?

Martha talks to Business Now

A few weeks ago, a local business TV segment, Business Now, re-ran their interview with "business intellectual" Martha Rogers. I missed the first airing in March, and since I had recommended they interview Martha, I really wanted to see it. I caught it this time: short but good. Watch the 3 minute video clip.

I met Martha at BGSU in 1995. I can still remember learning about her first book, The One to One Future, as I was flipping by the other local PBS station late one night in 1994. In 2001, I was fortunate to be able present at the same event as her and relate web usability to her customer strategy.

I have tried to keep up with her other books (all co-authored with Don Peppers), but they crank them out faster than I can read them. Their latest is Return on customer - turning ROI on its head. My goal is to read this before the end of 2005: look for a blog entry here once I do.

I do have 1 nit, however. In her interview, Martha says that the 1to1 book does not mention the World Wide Web because "there wasn't one" in 1993. Yes, it did exist in 1993, and like Jakob, I was trying to figure out how to make it easier to use. Of course, Martha is right that the WWW was not a crucial part of the customer experience back in 1993. But 1to1 and WWW are tied at the hip now, and experience design is the bridge between the WWW technology and the 1to1 strategy.

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Mysterious UX Management

I think many would agree there is a lot of mystery around how to be an effective manager of a user experience team in large companies.

This new blog - uxm - looks like it will try to address the enigma, with initial posts on being scientists, lobbyists and analysts.

But at this point, the blog only adds to the mystery. Who is this person? What job roles are included on the team? What about non-web experiences? What company are they at? According to the (free) 2005 list, one of these "Fortune 5" is the employer of our secret author:

  1. Wal-Mart
  2. Exxon
  3. GM
  4. Ford
  5. GE

With IBM #10 on the list, at least I know that my manager is not behind this.

Will this person ever reveal themselves? Will some investigative soul be able to expose them? Oooh, how thrilling the mystery should be. (^:

Nature trails and navigation trails

Take twelve separate trail web sites and unify them under a common brand while still maintaining some sense of individuality.

Paul Boag's highlights and lowlights of his project with the UK National Trails website was a refreshing reminder that we are all struggling with the same issues: designing a good user experience means solving political and technical problems.

The scale is a lot larger with ibm.com, but we also deal with serving individual business unit needs. How to let each brand speak with its special voice, yet still be a part of OneIBM. How to convince them to join the common infrastructure so that we can build the experience that our customers demand. How to merge silos. How to build it all so it works and the technology limitations do not drive the user experience.

It is also a reminder that "all politics are local". For a naive outsider like me, all of the UK trails are one and the same, so why some trails would need their own site is beyond me. I am sure there are very good reasons for a trail to stand on its own; this redesign project probably revealed more festering politics than it solved design problems.

Still, it all looks like a step in the right direction. Good job, Headscape, and thanks for sharing your story.

I also like this story because the whole idea of the national trails is to link separate footpaths and small roads into a system, filling in gaps as needed to make them all fit together. They link-together in the physical world just like I do every day in the virtual world.

Finally, I just could not resist the irony of a site about real-world trails that contains virtual trails.

Design Consulting Services

IBM does customer experience design for clients - looks interesting, I will have to find out more.

Putting my ibm.com navigation hat on, here are 2 challenges for you: (1) Starting here, your task is to find this new "customer experience design service" - without using a search engine. (2) From the web site navigation, can you tell where this group falls within the IBM org chart?

How did you do? How did we do on the navigation? (This is a new group, so I suspect we do pretty poorly.) Did you have to understand our org chart to find it?

PS. This press release might help, but I would consider that cheating.

Starting a new site for myself

I am starting a new site. Using Drupal.

New: blog (I have been blogging sporadically on other sites until now).

Old: Content from user-experience.org, uuslash.org and other scattered stuff, all to be mooshed ("mooshed" is a technical IA term!) into this one new site. And yes, some form of usableweb.com will eventually make its way here.

Still very much a work-in-progress, as you can see.

Over time, I will add more current blog entries. On occassion I will also "back blog" - create an entry dated in the past and written as if I had posted it long ago. So if you see an entry older than this one, it is probably a back blog.

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Designer's Challenge

"The difference between a good website and a great website happens before you begin coding"

I presented at the SEOMUG Spring <br> conference yesterday. This talk focused on work products and methodologies for IA and UCD.

I only had 45 minutes, so I had to breeze thru things. Hopefully the book references will help people who want to learn more.

Bob Sutor

Yesterday I met Bob Sutor, Vice President of Standards and Open Source for the IBM. He was in Toledo for the CIO Forum (see my recap).

Nice guy. Since he works in a totally different part of the company, we do not have a lot in common. But he does have one of the most famous blogs on ibm.com (which does not exactly follow all of my team's user interface standards, nudge, nudge, wink, wink). And I think we can leverage ibm.com better to showcase our position on open source and open standards - as well as many other non-product-marketing things that make IBM a great company.

I met a few other IBMers at the Forum too. Always nice to talk with my colleagues and hear what they are working on.

CIO Forum on open source

I attended the Northwest Ohio CIO Forum on open source yesterday. I learned a lot about open source (vs. open standards, how various companies are treating it, and the common misconceptions about it), what CIOs care about (saving money, saving money and, um, saving money, and not very much about the "I" in their title nor creating value for the business), and met many interesting people. It was definitely the most-happenin' IT event in the Toledo area in several years.

Although "user experience" was only mentioned once, by Ron Eller, the overall themes that open source leads to choice and open standards allow companies to agree on the basics so that they can compete at a higher level, were prevalent.

Simple example: if you are locked into a certain vendor based on a word processor file format, you do not have much freedom to select a different vendor with a better experience for your users. If you have an open standard for file format, now you can pick your vendor based on more important needs, like quality of the word processor user interface. That vendor with the lock on the file format does not have very much incentive to improve the user experience because they already have your business. Finally, open source options that fit in with other software because of open standards let you mix-and-match the technologies, enabling you to create novel user experiences on your own, instead of waiting 5 years for a vendor to build it from scratch.

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