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  • 29 Oct 2006 5:00 PM | Anonymous
    The NEW Web: An Unconference When: Saturday, November 4, from 9 to 5 Where: Talley Student Center on the NC State Campus Cost: Free to attend What to bring: Laptops with wireless if you have them, lunch money, an open mind Who can attend: Everyone! STC Carolina and NC State STC Student Chapter are hosting our first ever unconference! The idea for this event is to share up-to-the-minute information about new web developments that are both easy and essential right now. We have scheduled sessions, but if there is something else you want to discuss then we can do that, too. The best part of any conference often takes place outside of the formal sessions; learning from and sharing with your peers is just as important and often more useful. That's the opportunity this unconference provides. - Abe Crystal
  • 26 Oct 2006 5:00 PM | Anonymous
    What: "Everything is Miscellaneous," the UNC/SILS 2006 Henderson LectureWho: Dr. David WeinbergerWhen: 2 p.m., Thursday, December 7, 2006 Where: Murphey Hall Auditorium (room 116), UNC-Chapel Hill. A reception will follow. Abstract Ever since Aristotle, we have organized knowledge according to some basic principles. By odd coincidence - that is, by no coincidence at all - these are the same principles that guide how we organize objects in the physical world. The most common structure of knowledge is the branching tree, found in everything from books (volumes, chapters, sections…) to the tree of life (animals, vertebrates, mammals…). We've assumed that to know a field is to see how everything has its unique place. Then the digital revolution happened, eliminating the restrictions of physicality. For example, a real world librarian has to put a book on one and only one shelf whereas Amazon files books under as many different categories as possible. And, while traditionally the owners of the information own and control the organization of that information, in the digital realm, the users own the organization. You can't make changes in the basic principles of organization without changing the nature of knowledge itself: What knowledge is, who gets to decide, what constitutes a subject or topic, where does knowledge's authority come from? We are in the midst of this revolution that touches how we organize our businesses, our customers' control of the information they touch, and the "who" and "what" of trust. - Abe Crystal
  • 06 Oct 2006 5:00 PM | Anonymous

    by Rebekah Sedaca.
    --originally published at Capstrat

    Way back when the Web first started and before the corporate advertisers caught on to the whole information superhighway concept, Web designers and developers had all of this screen real estate in which we could display functionality, design, content, and information. Literally, we had a plethora of real estate in which to communicate our ideas and information.

    Over time, as the heads in those corporate offices turned from their offline advertising to the Web, we saw a flurry of onsite advertising. With varying levels of success, popup ads, spam emails, banner ads and right rail promotions cluttered our minds, inboxes and screens. (The right rail is the rightmost column or section of a Web page that is often used to display advertisements.) With time and technology, tools like spam and popup blockers have diminished the effectiveness of online advertising. This has left advertisers with few online “safe” spaces, one of which is the right rail.

    We have sold out the right rail to advertisers to the point that it’s becoming ineffective for even that purpose. User testing shows right rail, or column, “blindness” and it is only getting worse with the likes of Google sponsored links. Info World also recently published an article, "What Users Hate Most About Web Sites", that lists “invasive advertising” among its top gripes along with a note about “right rail blindness.” There are a number of hypotheses around the root cause of right rail blindness including the western convention of reading from left to right and superfluous advertising.

    Rather than surrender the rightmost sections of our screens as useless for containing content and information (and ads, for that matter), we must take back that section of our screens. Web site navigation is one option. User testing on the subject has shown that users perform as well when navigation is on the right side of the screen as on the left. In one study, users were divided into two groups and asked to complete a series of tasks: one group using a left navigation-based site and the other a right navigation-based site. The results showed no significant different in time completion between the two sites.

    There is even an argument to suggest that in following with Fitt’s Law, right navigation would be a more effective solution if convention could be ignored, since it is closer in proximity to the scroll bar. (And considering that the Web in its current state is relatively young, how set in stone can convention be?)

    Right rail navigation also proved successful for audi.com. The right rail placement not only supported their “innovation in design” brand message, but also proved successful in user testing and rollout to the market. Furthermore, many blogging tools, like Word Press, are using the right rail of pages to capture tags, recent activities and the like. As blogging becomes more and more mainstream, the right rail may be able to rise to its former stature.

    So can we change user behavior over time by removing advertising from the right rail and putting navigation and other site essential items there in its place? Only time will tell, but it sure beats the alternative of giving up on the right rail and losing that real estate all together.

    I would love to get some feedback from the Triangle User Experience community on right rail usage, testing, and ideas about reclaiming it. Thoughts?

  • 05 Oct 2006 5:00 PM | Anonymous

    By Lee Cherry

    There has been an interesting chain of events happening behind the use of MySpace as an educational teaching tool by one of the professors here at NC State University - MySpace coursework under microscope. It appears, yet again, a new form of technology has far outpaced the policy and administration of technology in a large organization.

    I am a big proponent of using "mashups" to create an environment for both blended learning and enhancing an application or web experience - facebook, linkedin, youtube, wordpress, movabletype, meebo, del.icio.us, etc. Integrating functionality of another succesful venture into product can be an added benefit in many instances. MySpace has been on a short list of “what ifs”… I think MySpace has managed to capture a lot of attention and loyalty among its users - of all age groups. Therefore, it was a matter of time before someone would adapt it in other innovative ways for their needs.

    Now, I'm not saying MySpace is a silver bullet for any one particular thing, but it is definitely something that has caught a lot of people's attention and eyeballs - more eyeballs, more audience, more channels for revenue, more chances for change and learning; superficial maybe, time will only tell. I believe we are just scratching the surface for building a business use for presenting something on MySpace. On the other hand, I believe MySpace has a long way to go to correctly implement a more powerful means of adjusting some of the interface and usability issues.

    To the University's credit, it has spent a lot of time and money on developing a series of tools that offer a method and a means to carry out distance education on a large scale - which is both the trend of the consumer education arena and the desire of the University (see more eyeballs statement from before). However, these tools still have a lot of room to grow before they really can address professor and student issues on usability and effectiveness.

    I have trained with these distance learning tools and personally used them for classes but have found they can detract from the experience and are difficult to integrate into people's learning routine. I have also tried talking to the other professors here about utilizing the resources but only to receive bit of pushback. Not only must one have a professor willing to understand how to fit the technology into their traditional (and often entrenched) pedagogy; you must also have to have a technology that can adapt to their needs. However, that's a whole other debate.

    You can spend lots of money, to build a toolset that you expect your users to fully utilize and enjoy; only to discover they are using a more personal and effective means to fulfill their needs. It's up to your organization if you decide to force the situation and build walls around your application for the sake of efficiency and coherence or work with your users to integrate and adapt the situation to create the most effective and desirable product to surpass their needs.

  • 28 Sep 2006 5:00 PM | Anonymous

    By Michael Gowan
    Continuing a series of posts on redesigning a section of a Web site (see first post).
    Since we’re talking about user-centered design, getting user input into a project at the beginning seems pretty important. But conducting interviews at the beginning of a project is often the first stepped dropped when deadlines get crunched.
    On this project, I had planned to run an online survey and conduct follow up interviews with some respondents. But after entering that into my project schedule I ended up with a January 2007 launch date. That wasn’t going to fly -- I needed to have an outlet for new content no later than November 2006.

    So I looked for other forms of user input that I already had on hand. Sacrilege, perhaps, for the readers of this blog. But with a little effort, I found enough to provide a user voice in defining the requirements.

    First I looked at previous research that we had performed. Earlier this year we conducted some pretty extensive focus group and user testing work around what existing patients and prospective patients wanted from our site. A portion of this testing was dedicated to the health library. Bingo.

    We’d conducted user testing during our Service section redesign that covered, indirectly, user needs in the health library. We had found how users interacted with the library when seeking information about treatments. It was enough to piece together a user task.

    I also turned to the Web for other published research. The Pew Internet & American Life project has some specific health related research that provided high-level user needs. Paired with our own existing research, I started to get a good picture of what our users would want.

    Other sources of external research included Jupiter and Forrester.

    What quick methods have you used for getting user input before writing requirements? Post in the comments section to let me know.

  • 21 Sep 2006 5:00 PM | Anonymous
    Design Expo Raleigh 2006 will be a two week celebration of the incredible designers who call the Triangle home and all the innovative work being created here. The theme for this year's inaugural event is "Hidden Gems: Great Design in Our Own Backyard." We have a powerful and wonderful design community - it's time for the rest of the world to know about it. The purpose of Design Expo Raleigh is to present great design to the public and to give designers, both professionals and students, a forum to display and discuss their work. A unique showcase of applied arts coming together as a whole, Design Expo Raleigh promotes broader awareness of many different design disciplines and creates an opportunity for local designers to network with each other, students, and the public. Among the diverse applied arts to be represented at Design Expo Raleigh '06 are Animation, Architecture, Graphic Design, Industrial Design, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, and Textile/Fashion Design. When: October 20 - November 4 Where: Heilig-Levine Building 137 S. Wilmington Street Raleigh, NC 27601 The main exhibition will be at the Heilig Levine Building. Other events will take place in other locations around Raleigh and the Triangle. Please see the calendar of events for information about specific events. Who will attend: Events are open to the public. We encourage professionals and all students (university, college, high school, middle school, etc.) and all of those interested in design to participate.
  • 21 Sep 2006 5:00 PM | Anonymous
    Shimon Shmueli points us to "Using Product Design to Drive Brand Power," ...a talk I am going to give together with our partner from Taiwan. We gave this talk last night at the Austin Technology Council in Austin, and the response was very good. Although the approach will be mostly related to tangible products, I think it may be valuable to some of the UX audience. Hope to see some folks there!
  • 21 Sep 2006 5:00 PM | Anonymous
    Collection of resources and links, form Anita Crescenzi at UNC Health Sciences Library.
  • 21 Sep 2006 5:00 PM | Anonymous
    Anita Crescenzi has provided this helpful summary of wireframing/Visio resources [note: Word document].
  • 20 Sep 2006 5:00 PM | Anonymous

    The Health Sciences Library at UNC is proud to present "Organizing the World's Information: Google's Vision for the 21st Century" - a discussion with Craig Silverstein, Technology Director at Google.

    The event is scheduled for Thursday, October 26th from 4-5:30pm in the Medical Biomolecular Research Building on the UNC campus and is open to the public. Register for your free tickets before they're all gone.

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