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November 2002 Archives


November 27, 2002 11:56 AM


Here's is my first annual report of server activity for InMyExperience.com. I ran my server logs from the last 329 days thru Analog 5.23 with some modifications to the config file to include xml as a 'page view' file type (due to the fact that many people don't read this site thru a browser).

Enjoy, and if yer 'merican, have a great holiday weekend.

November 26, 2002 9:55 AM


Normally I think Nathan Shedroff has a well tuned insight on web development efforts, but in this interview with him at V2 (a great site) he says something crazy...

The interviewer: I mean, come on, Nathan. Realistically, now. How many client projects are going to be able to afford their own dedicated Experience Designer? How many would be better served by a qualified IA who's maybe attended something like the AIGA conference - but used that as a conceptual overlay, informing a sound underlying architecture?

Nathan: How many can afford an IA? Of those who can, how many actually have one on board? This isn't an issue of money and budgets. It's one of context and approach. A good IA might also be into looking at the larger experience (beyond the information organization, presentation, and visualization issues). That's awesome. But that's more than the job description for IA.
Sorry, but it's all about the money. UI designers, UX specialists, Info Architects and the people they work with must always make value judgments on the tasks they are assigned, or take on themselves, and squeeze maximum value out of their efforts to complete the task.

Value judgments need to be made.

Is a week's worth of UI review and usability studies going to help the web app? Yes? Do I have the time and money to do that? No? I don't care if 'context and approach' are what Nathan thinks is important, the client thinks quality at a low price is importent, so we need to make efforts to satisfy that need. Context, approach and good intentions don't pay the mortgage.

November 25, 2002 9:12 AM


C|Net says AOL is testing a POP/IMAP email client that seems to be apart from the AOL service. Keeping in mind that AOL is on an anti-spam crusade, I'm hopeful that this plan is real and that they mean what they say...

Corre said AOL Communicator will target "heavy users of AIM and advanced users of e-mail," but would not say whether the company plans to charge for the software or whether it would be sold to companies or to AOL subscribers.
Users of Hotmail know the pain of spam, and even if there is a filter to put spam in a trash box, it should never have gotten to you in the first place. Just open a Hotmail account, don't ever send any email, and never give the address out, and you'll still get spam. I don't see that business plan coming from AOL.

Dealing with spam is a bad user experience. I know that's obvious to me and you, but it bears repeating. I've heard it straight from the horses mouths that user experience is a top priority at AOL and that spam is to be fought vigorously. If AOL can supply cheap, stable, spam free email, in a client that's easy to use, then they have MSFT and Apple beat.

November 21, 2002 2:16 AM


Homestar Runner does it again.

November 19, 2002 12:03 PM


This blog has been up and running for 366 days now, and I would have said something yesterday, but I was too busy dealing with clients (who never deliver their stuff on time) and personal matters (looks like a non-vital organ needs to be cut out of me, woo hoo). Even though I missed it, Danielle caught it. Thanks :)

November 18, 2002 1:14 AM


Many of us (us = me, and my 5 readers) have experience the anguish of enlightening the client of a given web development project in the interest of faithfully, and robustly executing the business plan of said client. The cluelessness, ignorance or otherwise diminished understanding of the realities of web development and web site/application development is a huge business risk.

Overcoming that problem requires the liberal arts major in all of us to find a way to understand, relate to, and transform the notions the client may have coming into a project. One of those core things the web professional needs to deal with is revealing the fluid nature of the web page itself.

I can't count using all of the follicles of hair on my body (there are many) how many times a client/business owner, 'stake holder' or 'the guy in charge' has asked...

Can that be moved down a little?
Of course it can! In fact, the code creating this page may automagically do that in one of the other multitudinous browsing environments available to the browsing public. Please understand that HTML is merely a suggestion on how to render a page. This isn't a magazine, it's a web site.
But, what I mean is, that's up to high and isn't really important.
Well, I know it's too high, because this page doesn't have the content you promised to deliver LAST WEEK so it's just a place holder, and the footer in question is near the top of the page for reason (this is where I edit the HTML in front of them, add in a ton of paragraph tags, and ask them to imagine the tardy content made it to school on time). Besides, it actually is important since it shows who owns the copyright here, and what the terms of service are (via a link).
Oh, I see. So, what content do I owe you?
*sigh*

November 15, 2002 2:23 AM


For what it's worth, I thought I'd mention that I bought Transmit 2 yesterday, and I love it. Between this version of Transmit, and the new version of BBEdit, my life is much easier. This is the way software is supposed to be; well written, targeted, non-bloaty and interconnected (eg, the Edit in BBedit comment in Transmit).

November 14, 2002 2:09 AM


<incoherent blathering>
When building a web site and working with a client, I often refer to patterns of use regarding how the current site (if any) is being used or how the upcoming site will be used. I often make the point that the user will find the easiest way they can to get maximum value out of the site. So why not make that pattern of use as easy as possible and adopt that system?

I have found that the pattern of use for this site has little to do with referrers from other sites, or browsing from page to page. I've provided links going forward and backwards from each page, and have put in links to categories of posts, but those links seem to be rarely used.

Most often, readers are using bookmarks to go to the home page or are using RSS aggregators to read the site. If this were a commercial site that earned cash from adverts, would I adopt the patterns of use that are evident from server logs? Probably not, and this shows a fundamental disconnect between how the business wants you to use the system and how the user wants to extract maximum value from it.
</incoherent blathering>

November 12, 2002 8:46 AM


When a client repeatedly asks for text to be scrolling back and forth on the site you are building for them, what do you say? The obvious answer being "no" hasn't worked since the request keeps coming. I keep trying to make the point that annoying people fails to generate business, but that doesn't to be as evident to the client as it is to me.

This is the hardest part of building sites for people who just don't get it.

November 8, 2002 8:43 AM


Lest we forget that Humans interact with things other than computers, here's an example of HCI pulling double time, the BMW iDrive... uh... thing.

The driver slides the dial to choose between multiple control menus displayed on an in-dash LCD screen. The driver rotates the dial to move through lists and pushes the dial axially to select a list item.
After reading that I didn't feel like I had any sort of idea what 'axially' meant, but I suppose this video helps. What concerns me about this is the interaction with this little nubbly device requires the driver, hurtling down the road, to look at a screen. They say there is force feedback that indicates the menu, but that's only half the equation, because there are things in the menus. So, I'm guessing the driver needs to memorize the menus, which are sure to be short, so think about the mental modeling here.

To really keep your eyes on the road, you have to be able to do everything by feel and pattern. Is this easier than hot-cold air sliders, vent selection buttons and radio dials? If I drove a BMW 7 Series, I might be able to tell ya.

November 5, 2002 9:43 AM


About two years ago I began adding a line to the Functional Requirements Documents I was writing that said something like...

Supporting Netscape Navigator 4.x represents a technical and business risk to the success of the Business Plan.
The reason I would add this is that double coding JavaScript routines, or using wrapper functions, represented a doubling in development time, resulting in increased costs to the client and a extended delivery times. Time is money.

This morning, I realized that my warning can and should contain another comment...

Supporting Netscape Navigator 4.x (Nav4) represents a technical and business risk to the success of the Business Plan. Implementing support for Nav4 will decrease the durability of the application be increasing the amount of code to maintain and the complexity of that code, for a browser that is rapidly falling off the browsing landscape.
Unfortunately, I still get projects where the question "who is the user base?" gets answered with, "Solaris users with Nav4." I'm at the point in my front end development career that those words anger me.

November 4, 2002 10:21 AM


I have recently had cause to see lots of doctors and go to the emergency room, and I have to say that the entire system is a Process and User Experience disaster (and very much similar to an e-biz consulting company). Consider the following pattern...
  1. I develop pains for some unknown reason, and it doesn't go away for a long time, so I drive myself to the emergency room.
  2. Upon arriving I have to sign myself in, assuming of course that I can control my hands enough. The waiting begins, in a hospital that doesn't see high traffic, especially at this early hour of 5am.
  3. The on-duty orderly type guy then calls me in after a while that and does the discovery session and gathers the requirements to solve my problem. He takes notes using a computer interface with lots of pop-up selections, causing massive amounts of clicking.
  4. Next, I go back and wait, and then check in, again, with someone else who wants to know how I'm going to pay for this. Due to my condition, I don't care, but hand over my insurance card with a shaky hand. This person asks me the same questions as the other guy and enters them into a terminal looking application. this leads me to believe that my ailment demographics are being taken.
  5. I wait again for the next round
  6. I'm eventually invited into the back where all the good equipment, doctors and most importantly (for me at the time) where the drugs are. But, before I can some relief, I am interrogated again, but no one takes notes or enters this repeated info into a computer. This leads me to believe they know my ailment data has been recorded at least once and they can refer back to that if they need to, but reading that in the first place must take to long so they as me directly as I writhe around on a gurney.
  7. Due to the symptoms, they decide to hook me up to an IV and pump all sorts of crap into me, and I attempt to be a good customer, er patient, by asking about everything they are doing.
  8. I understand little to none of the info passed to me in spite of my St Elsewhere, er, and Dr. Quinn Medicine woman medical education.
  9. The pain killers kick in, and I don't give a fuck about anything anymore.
  10. More questions and answers, and lots of waiting. But who cares about waiting when you are in a stupor and have no sense of time passing.
  11. Blood tests come back with some good news, but I only know what isn't wrong with me, not what is.
  12. I know a bill will arrive in the mail soon.
This whole thing really feels like deliverables time on a dot bomb, death march project in 1999. You know, the urgent feelings that something is happening, but you are not sure what, and you try to do something about it, and the process is taking too long, but you get something done, and it feels great, but you still know nothing, and you know a bill is going to come in the mail, and you are hoping to god that your backers are going to make good on their commitments.
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