Notebook

Christian Crumlish and Erin Malone are writing a book on designing social interfaces and are starting to post the design patterns they are writing as they work through the chapters. Each pattern is open for folks to modify / give feedback.

From the looks of that list of forward links to be added, they have a very ambitious list of design problems they're going to be researching and providing design patterns for. Knowing the quality of information Erin and Christian have been providing to the UX community, I cann tell you that this will be a highly valued resource.

I'm subscribed and looking forward to contributing to it.

WebIconSets.com lists the best icon sets suitable for web use. All the icon sets are of professional quality and free to use in your own projects.

I very rarely will say anything about a site if the only opinion I have is negative. Twingr looked like an interesting idea. The service let's you create your own Twitter-clone microblogging site, as does Yammer, but without any constraints regarding who you may invite. Alas, I can't say that I know what the experience is like because I couldn't get past the front door, so I walked away possibly never to return.

So here's the criticism, and my advice for how not to run a product alpha/beta.

1) Don't put a very prominent form to create an account on your front page if this is what you happens when you submit.

2) Don't make a second create button on the page (see bottom of the first screenshot) that does nothing when you click it.

3) Don't do all the above, blocking people from registering, and then leave out a sign up for beta form to remind prospective customers to come back. I won't remember ever hearing about this site and probably won't likely be back if not reminded.

First impressions matter, and I know it can be very difficult to recover from a bad first impression with a product. If I were these guys, I would make those few fixes real fast.

ScreenToaster is a pretty incredible web application that lets you record your web browser screen without having to download desktop software. Currently, to record a screen, you open up ScreenToaster in a browser tab, navigate to the page you want to capture, click a keyword combination, and the applet starts recording. Press another key combination to stop. The service saves the session and almost immediately gives you a flash video with your recording.

Smashing Magazine does a newspaper roundup in a week that saw the FT.com make news for its redesign.

These days, the design lines between blogs and newspapers are starting to converge a bit with those newspapers that take the threat of the blog format seriously. Smashing Mag does a good design of screenshooting and comparing what news sites are doing.

Chris Campbell or Particle Tree provides an excellent set of guidelines and examples for designing with users with color deficiencies in mind.

The User Interface Design Group at MIT has started their Teatime Blog. Info about the blog from entry #1:

The sharing of knowledge and ideas is of fundamental importance to the advancement of technology. With this goal in mind, MIT’s User Interface Design group meets once a day at Tea Time to brainstorm new ideas, review new technologies and ideas, and share their experiences working in the field.

If we hope to herald innovation by sharing ideas with a research group , then there’s a boundless value to sharing ideas and thoughts with the world at large. With this goal in mind, we will post a daily log of the musings and observations we discuss in our tea time meetings, and welcome your thoughts and comments about Human Computer Interaction, User Interface Design, and increasing the value and effectiveness of how we use technology

Russel Wilson of Dexo Design has done an excellent review of available UI Prototyping tools and provided tables comparing attributes including how fun they are to use, time to ramp up, and support for interactivity.

His final assessment is below:

1) Low fidelity mockups for idea exploration and communication: Balsamiq
2) Interactive prototypes to test and communicate interactions: Adobe Flex (Thermo may change my mind)
3) High fidelity drawing tool: Adobe Illustrator or OmniGraffle

The Email Standards Project is a community effort to ensure that emails render consistently. Similar to the Web Standards Project, the Email Standards Project community works with email client developers and the design community to improve web standards support and accessibility in email.

Kevin Arthur's Touch Usability is a blog devoted to usability news and research on touch screen interfaces.

Gazopa provides image upload and drawing interfaces for image search. The idea of finding similar images by comparing against a submitted image or drawing is not new, but search tools that use this tech have failed to catch on in consumer sites. People with information retrieval background might be familiar with IBM's QBIC, query by image content, technology for instance.

Gazopa looks very interesting, and the results are not bad at all, even with my crude bicycle drawing above. The Flash drawing tool is a little rough around the edges, but I'm sure that will improve as well. Looks like one of the best attempts to bring this to the masses so far.