NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA) Screen Reader

NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA) is a free and open source screen reader for the Microsoft Windows operating system. Providing feedback via synthetic speech and Braille, it enables blind or vision impaired people to access computers running Windows for no more cost than a sighted person. Major features include support for over 20 languages and the ability to run entirely from a USB drive with no installation.

Guide to CSS support in email clients

Campaign Monitor provides a table showing the level of CSS support in the 23 different email clients they test, and covers all the popular applications across desktop, web and mobile email. The web-based version of the guide focusses on the 10 most popular email clients on the market, and they provide a complete report on all 23 email clients in PDF format.

Fireworks Script for iPhone App Prototypes

The iPhone extension helps create a mockup of an iPhone application in Fireworks. It automatically adds the iPhone wrapper when you preview the mockup, or package it for distribution as an AIR application. The slide-in, slide-out effects that are charecteristic of iPhone can be generated using this extension.Updated resolution to 480X320.

OverSite: Wireframe Software

OverSite is a cross-platform application for wireframing and prototyping. It uses a drag and drop interface and can build HTL prototypes from your linked pages.

The app lets you define the hierarchy of your website or application, create sections and subsections, fill them with pages and screens, and rearrange your structure using a drag-and-drop interface. The app automatically generates a site map, and any changes you make to your structure will instantly be reflected. You can then wireframes using the UI component library and create your own reusable components. Construct templates that apply to all pages/screens within a section and create multiple versions of the same page or screen. The app also supports linking between pages. Finally, it allows you to use a built in prototype browser or export the project as HTML with absolutely positioned elements.

HTML exporting is not bad, but project/directory naming during export was a little confusing to me. The interface itself could be nicer to look at, as can the UI components. I wouldn’t want to show ugly wireframes to my team or to clients. In the Mac version I also found it odd to have to click a component and click again in the canvas. More like click-click than drag-drop.

The concept looks promising and it feels similar to many of the other heavier wireframing/prototyping apps currently offered in this market. It’s nice that it’s a full-fledged app, and features, e.g. automatic notes, seem to be hinting at movement in the direction of tools like Axure, but it’s laking some of the more interactive features. Automated usability testing

UserTesting is a commercial service that promises automated usability testing.

You might think of this as a series of task-oriented usability test sessions where you only need enter a number of tasks for a test that will take approximately 15 minutes, enter the demographics (age, income) and technographics (computer experience) for the user you'd like to target. UserTesting has a pool of paid testers who accept sessions, view your site with a floating layer that shows the tasks to complete while they record their voice, mouse clicks and movements, and page changes. Finally, the service asks the user to fill out a follow up survey. The cost is tiered by number of users per session.

Here's how it works:

1. You sign up for user testing, specifying the demographic profile of your target audience, how many users you want, and what tasks you want them to perform on your site. You can optionally enter more information about your user requirements, or enter names of specific UserTesting users you my have worked with in the past.


2. Usertesting notifies users. When users have accepted your test, the status change appears in your control panel. Completed tests can be viewed from this page or via an email notification.

3. Users record their screen and voice as they use your website, speaking their thoughts as they browse. You watch and listen to them use your site. Each user's session - mouse movements, clicks, keystrokes, and spoken comments - is saved as a Flash video for you to watch.

4. Finally you are able to read a summary the user enters at the end of hte session: What they liked, didn’t like, what would have caused them to leave your site.


The product seems targeted at companies that don't have a person on staff with experience doing user testing, who don't want to invest in time for preparing and facilitating test sessions, or who don't want to hire a usability consultant. Seems promising on the surface, but I think it's not without challenges.

A few things stand out from my brief demo. Without the physical presence at sessions, follow-up questions to specific tasks have to be scripted as part of the given script, and you cannot ask follow up questions while the test is in session. On the positive side, you can't lead tasks at all, but a facilitator with experience wouldn't be likely to fall into that trap. The forms make some good suggestions for typical tasks and follow up questions and how to word them.

You do not do the screening yourself. This has pros and cons. The pros are that they save you time. The cons are that you cannot screen people out after talking with them through your own screener, with your specific questions. The best that the sign up form offers you is a field to enter additional needs, but you're at the mercy of the service to follow through on your requests.

Another thing I'd like to have seen is the ability to write my own follow-up questionnaire rather than use the set provided, as well as offering some simple questions with ordinal value answers perhaps.

The best benefit on the surface is cost. The biggest challenge in my opinion will be in proper screening, and most importantly in the analysis. I have no doubt that the right company might be able to find value in a service like this if they choose the right scenarios, word tasks well, and are able to analyze the results and make suggestions for the right improvements.

CSS 3 Cheat Sheet (PDF)

Smashing Magazine’s printable CSS 3 Cheat Sheet provides a complete listing of all the properties, selectors types and allowed values in the current CSS 3 specification from the W3C. Each property is provided in a section that attempts to match it with the section (module) that it is most actively associated within the W3C specification. Next to each property is a listing of the expected values that that property takes (normal text shows named values it accepts and italics shows value types it will accept).

Infomaki: Open Source Usability Testing Software

Infomaki is a Ruby on Rails application developed by the New York Public Library as a way of rapidly testing alternate designs and navigation language with minimal disruption to users. NYPL are using it to power and test new designs for the main web site. More and documentation is available at the NYPL Labs blog,