Nodes, connections, and context

For a user, the Internet is just a dynamic application. All of the websites and apps and everything else add up to the same abstract features that are present in any desktop app:

  1. Store/read data
  2. Query for data
  3. Write/edit data

That’s a useful conceptual framework for planning a successful startup in today’s internet.

Why SEO matters for user-generated content

Lately I’ve been surprised to hear people say something to the effect of “when it comes to social networking and UGC, SEO doesn’t matter” in a number of different conversations. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, SEO is more important to a successful social networking and user-generated content than for editorial content.

Fitts versus the Cyclops

Usability implications of ocular-kinesthetic dissonance

The fingers you have used to dial are too fat. To obtain a special dialing wand, please mash the keypad with your palm now.

The Simpsons

The joy of reg

Recently-enjoyed registration forms

Bigger is better!
Red bars in the inputs? It’s the first time I’ve been delighted by required fields.
Overdone, but at least they tried.

Your reg form is your (un)welcome mat

Quick Widget Update

Techcrunch points to an interesting Widgets overview on Yahoo’s Widget blog.

I’ll repeat the comment that I made on the Techcrunch blog to write that beyond all the hype, Widgets are still in their infancy, and engineers are still figuring out how to identify and leverage their strengths.

Notes on simplicity

Just a brain fart while reading The Design of Everyday Things:

Increased complexity leads to an increased likelihood of what Donald Norman describes as “slips”. Thinking about this, I realized that it’s not only due to the obvious math of “more options equals more wrong options”; if we think of actions stemming from a neural model of patterned relationships, increased interface complexity increases the sum of patterns and mental relationships, therefore decreasing pattern comprehension (or pattern matching, a critical component of task completion).

Boring Interfaces May Be More Effective

Catching up on Jakob Neilsen’s articles, I came across this piece on users’ reading patterns. This is a good one to bookmark, so you can easily explain to someone why “clever” section headings aren’t generally a good idea. If a heading doesn’t clearly explain the content’s value, the user moves on pretty quickly.

It also raises questions about the trend towards placing site navigation along the right side of a page. I think it’s a good idea in blogs, where we can expect that a user is really only interested in the current article – don’t distract their eyes with a left-side list of links.

Simple QA Cheat Sheet

Testing a complex website or web-based application can become especially tedious when you don’t have a good sense of when you’re “done”. After working on several projects where I’ve either handled User Acceptance Testing personally or outsourced to a temp, I’ve come up with a baseline boilerplate QA checklist.

If you’re a web designer or project manager, it might provide a nice starting point for QA. If you’re non-tech person looking to evaluate a website, it’s a nice way to make sure all of the bases are covered.