Our lead book and website reviewer, Steve Kersten, recommends the following websites.
“Card Sorting: a Definitive Guide”
by Donna Mauer and Todd Warfel
An in-depth, easy-to-digest study of “open” card sorting (“closed” card sorting will be discussed in a later article). Includes theory, advantages and disadvantages, and excellent practical methodological advice. Available at www.boxesandarrows.com.
“Exploring User Mental Models of Breadcrumbs in Web Navigation”
by Angela Colter, Kathryn Summers, Cheri Smith
From the article’s abstract: “Breadcrumbs are a common Web site navigation element, yet little is known about whether users notice, use and understand what they are. We surveyed 4,775 sites to determine how many use breadcrumbs and what conventions exist, then conducted usability tests to explore user mental models of breadcrumbs.” The authors conclude “if a breadcrumb label happens to match what the user is looking for, and the user happens to see it, they may indeed use the links provided.” See www.angelacolter.com/site/breadcrumbs
“Four Modes of Seeking Information and How to Design for Them”
by Donna Mauer
On Boxes and Arrows, Donna Mauer discusses four different “modes of seeking” that users use on the web: “Known Item,” “Exploratory,” “Don’t Know What You Need to Know,” and “Re-finding.” Check it out at the excellent Boxes and Arrows website: www.boxesandarrows.com
IBM Design Concepts and Guidelines
This site provides a summary of user-centered design (UCD) concepts and style guidelines. It also includes IBM’s “Bill of User Rights.” See www-03.ibm.com/easy/page/558
Information Architecture Tutorial
by John Shiple
When you are responsible for understanding content and navigation, perhaps even for contributing to labeling and organization of a Web site or of a UA system, you are working in the realm of information architecture. Technical communicators will be well served by this series of tutorials/articles by John Shiple. His Webmonkey.com information architecture work forms an excellent resource for organizing your thoughts, experiences, and training on the tasks you already do, shedding light on them from the information architecture point of view. Working through the articles, you get experience with all the steps necessary for creating a site that meets the ease-of-use criteria of your audience. As you proceed through the lessons, you create and add on to a design document that, when you’ve completed the series, is ready to guide the development of your site. See www.webmonkey.com
“Integration of Usability Techniques into the Software Development Process”
by Xavier Ferre
Microsoft Vista UX Guidelines
One of the most exciting things about Vista, whether you think it’s the greatest thing or too little, very late, is that Microsoft is making available a lot of its research findings and design guidelines. The Vista UX Guidelines are an excellent source of information on interaction patterns. Instead of telling you what to do, it shows you how to think through conceptualizing and building interactions in Vista applications. Most of the information is easily adaptable (much of it applies as-is) to other Windows operations systems. Available on the MSDN site, Microsoft continues to update the guidelines.
“A Pattern Language Approach to Usability Knowledge Management”
by Michael Hughes
Michael Hughes has a great article about how usability testing helps individuals and teams build knowledge. Check it out at www.upassoc.org.
“Sensible Forms: a Form Usability Checklist”
by Brian Crescimanno
This article provides a great checklist of UI design considerations in the context of designing Web forms. The checklist applies to all good UI design, and it clearly defines a set of heuristics you can apply to the UIs you are developing. See www.alistapart.com/articles/sensibleforms