Notebook

Issue 2 Volume 1, Fall 2009, of the Journal of Information Architecture is now available. Includes the following articles.

Byström, Pharo & Resmini
Editorial: Open 24/7

Stefano Bussolon
Card Sorting, Category Validity, and Contextual Navigation

Brigitte Kaltenbacher
From Prediction to Emergence

David Walczyk & Cedomir Kovacev
Mediation as Message

Read Issue 2 of the Journal of IA.

UserPlus.org wants to share usability knowledge with web designers, web developers, usability specialists and all others interested in creating user friendly websites. By creating design patterns and best practices we want to make the existing knowledge usable in daily practice.

The Axure RP Pro 5.6 for Mac Alpha is now available for download. You can follow progress and find information on licensing at www.axureformac.com. The alpha version expires February 28, 2010. A valid alpha/beta will be available until the final release of 5.6 for Mac so your work will not be interrupted.

I finally made some time to read through Luke Wroblewski's excellent review of the changes in the Apple store's redesigned checkout form. According to Wroblewski, "...retail sales data shows that Mac sales were up 21% year-over-year in the months of October and November. So it's interesting to note that Apple's primary online sales channel (Web-based checkout) was redesigned during this time.

I wasn't surprised that the single page checkout form is an improvement over the paged version. What I was particularly interested in reading was Luke's observations about the problems with the move to put labels in inputs on so much of the form, and the improvements made with error messaging and breaking up secondary actions via tabbed sections.

I consider this a must read, and as always it's great to read whatever Luke continues to provide as an update to the form book. Read it on Functioning Form.

CSS and Javascript experiments are fun to play around with. I tend to talk about them here because of the questions they raise about whether a technique is worth implementing or if it does more harm than help. Straight forward and familiar are the safe route. Sometimes experiments lead to better ways of doing things, other times they seem like they're gratuitous.

I came across an interesting, if problematic experiment to convert form fields into editable fields that are masked table cells until each input is in focus. I don't think this would be particularly familiar to a user if they're editing a form for the first time. However, it does provide a nice problem to deconstruct and review.

I'm sure there is a specific application they have in mind here, e.g. displaying a view of tabular data as a masked form to a user that has permission to edit it. But I think that could just be accomplished using javascript to transform individual fields and submit via AJAX. One of the problems with transforming the text to input and back to system text again is that the user might believe that the transition implies a submission, when nothing is submitted in this form, I presume, until the Edit button is clicked. If the case was that editing each input submitted the data, however, this feels like it could be an appropriate concept.

As far as the concept of masking input fields here, I think the issue I have has to do with familiarity, usability, and efficiency. But to make it more usable, the form could give the user a cue as to how to start using this form. The first input might be put in focus so you know that you're able to edit form fields. Clicking an edit icon to start seems inefficient, although tabbing is also possible.

Some tricks run the risk of turning a simple function into what might be perceived as a gimmick, or worse, might fail to perform its primary function of getting the user's data input. Form fields feel like a dangerous place for me to confuse.

Just discovered Mike Rohde's Sketchnote Army.

Sketchnote Army is dedicated to finding and showcasing sketchnotes and sketchnoters from around the world, from events, conferences, workshops or wherever sketchnotes are captured or created. If you sketchnote, send your sketchnotes URL to Mike Rohde to have them featured there.

Via @katerutter

Remote usability testing service Usabilla has officially launched with tiered payment plans and PDF reports for all your test results. They will continue to provide a free service for up to 5 pages which lets you analyze the results of the first 25 participants of each test.

The Amsterdam based usability startup has been making impressive progress since their launch nearly six months ago. With the help of beta testers Usabilla have been able to build a useful tool to collect feedback on webpages, mockups, sketches, and other images. According to their press release, more then 2500 usability experts, web designers, online marketeers and other web professionals are using Usabilla to conduct remote usability tests and collect feedback.

I have been a beta user of Usabilla during their pre-release this year, and Usabilla is a Konigi sponsor.

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As you may know, I've been working on an html prototyping toolkit that's in its infancy, and available to play with in pre-release form here on Konigi. What you also may know is that I hope to put the code in a repository so that people can contribute UI component markup/css/js to it, but what I've got is not mature enough yet.

A few people have already started sharing their ideas and tips with me and I've felt like it's kind of a waste to have some of these discussions happen offline, so I want to step out and start these discussions in a wider venue.

I've created the HTML Prototyping Google group so that those of us who are interested in going deep on HTML wireframes or prototypes can talk about what we're doing and how we're doing it. Hopefully we'll give each other advice and find ways to learn new techniques or refine our craft. The group is NOT intended to focus on what I'm doing with the protokit, but is there for anyone who's using any method to do HTML prototyping. I will be there every day to monitor and participate.

I will look at every member that comes through this group and promise to try to keep the discussion on topic and keep flaming, trolls, spamming, and advertising from littering the list. So if you're interested, sign up and introduce yourself.

Let's go.

Basil Safwat does a very thorough comparison of the the tabs in Mac Safari and Chrome, pointing out the subtleties in the close button positioning and behavior. While Mac close icons are on the left by convention, Chrome positions them to the right of the tab and keeps them visible, while Safari positions them to the left and only displays the close icon on hover. I initially had to relearn the close button position because Firefox also places them on the right. Both handle tab resizing in a way that allows you to close multiple tabs while keeping the cursor in one position while clicking the close icon repeatedly.

Check out theinvisibl for the screenshots and complete deconstruction.

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Getting funding for your app idea is hard and often unrealistic. Most of the time you may just need to connect with a partner who has a skill set you lack to finish off your app. This is where Build It With Me is comes in, connecting you to those people. Skip the funding. Build It With Me will help you bootstrap your ideas into actual apps.

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