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5 posts from May 2006

Wednesday, 31 May 2006

The Long Tail of Web Site Analytics

A UIE article applies the Long Tail theory to analyzing web site traffic.

The Long Tail popularizes what mathematicians realized early on when they started researching the Web. That is, there is a pattern to the way that we browse web sites. The pattern is that there will always be a most popular page (usually the homepage) and there will always be a huge collection of pages that garner less individual attention but add up to the vast majority when put together. Going further, when we separate out the pages in the tail into what areas of the site they are in, we can get an even clearer idea of where people are spending their time.

Listening to Users May be Harmful to Your Product

Kathy Sierra, one of the wonderful bloggers over on Creating Passionate Users, writes on why you may *not* want to listen to your users. While interviewing Pat Parelli, founder of extremely successful programs on "natural horsemanship", the she assumed that the major changes they made to the already successful program were the result of member feedback. That assumption was wrong:

Pat: "No, listening to our members was maybe 20% of it, but the other 80% was something else."

And then he said it:

"We changed our entire program because WE knew we could do better. Because WE were still frustrated that people weren't learning quickly enough or progressing through the higher levels as well as we thought they could. People still weren't having the kind of relationship with their horse that we knew they could have, even though our students were delighted with the progress they were making. So we changed it all."

It turned out that most of the major changes they made to their program came not from user requests and suggestions, but from the Parelli team's own innovations. He went on to explain that their members/students/users had no idea what was needed to make better, faster, deeper breakthroughs. In fact, many of the changes went against what their user feedback seemed to suggest. In other words, in many ways the Parelli team deliberately did not listen to users.

They trusted themselves, and did what they believed was right for their users, even if it meant doing things that on the surface seemed even less user-friendly.

Tuesday, 30 May 2006

Onomi: Social Bookmarking on the Intranet

Some folks at MITRE Corporation started a pilot project to introduce social bookmarking in a corporate environment (pdf). The authors feel that social bookmarking will help foster social networking around interest areas, provide a place for research findings to be shared, assist in locating experts, improve information sharing on the intranet, and the tags users create ("folksonomy") will be used to determine changes to an existing taxonomy.

Friday, 26 May 2006

Web Navigation Is About Moving Forward

Content management expert Gerry McGovern writes on the importance of forward-looking navigation. The article, repubished on the UIE site, is to help promote his full-day seminar at UI11.

Navigation should primarily be about helping us keep on going in the direction we have chosen. If I choose a link for "notebooks" then I have made a decision. Continuing to present me with links for servers and desktops decreases my ability to focus on the notebook direction I have chosen.

Thursday, 11 May 2006

Elements of IxD

On the UXMatters.com, Dan Saffer provides an excerpt of his upcoming book, Designing for Interaction: Creating Smart Applications and Clever Devices. In the excerpt, Dan describes the building blocks of interaction design:

  • Motion
  • Space
  • Time
  • Appearance
  • Texture
  • Sound

From the description of Time:

Time creates rhythm. How fast something pops up on the screen or how long it takes to complete an action like renewing your driver’s license controls the rhythm of the interaction. Games are often about rhythm: how many aliens come at you at any given moment, or how long does it take to complete a level. Rhythm is also an important component of animation: how quickly does a folder open or close on the desktop, how slowly does a drop-down menu slide open. Interaction designers control this rhythm.

David (heller) Malouf posted the additional elements of Context, Linguistics, and Dialog. Dan and Dave discuss these a little further in the comments.

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