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November 2007 Issue

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit, Publisher & Editor in Chief

Published: November 19, 2007

The survey has closed. To view the results, click this link: 2007 UXmatters Reader Survey Results

To all of you who have already participated in our second annual UXmatters Reader Survey, thank you! Thus far, 67 people have participated in the survey—more than had participated in our survey at the halfway point last year. The more readers who participate in the survey, the better our editorial staff will be able to understand and serve your needs. So, we hope more of you will share your thoughts and a very small amount of your time with us and complete the survey before it closes on December 1, 2007. Read moreRead More>

By Mike Hughes

Published: November 19, 2007

“A task analysis generates a list of procedures—plus the supporting information users need to follow them—and eventually results in a document in which sequentially numbered instructions are the dominant type of information.”

If this column’s title sounds familiar to you, the bad news is you’re getting old, but the good news is your memory hasn’t gone yet. It was the title of a presentation I gave at the STC conference in Anaheim ten years ago. However, many of the points I made in that talk are still relevant to user assistance today, so I would like to update some of them and offer some new thoughts as well.

When product teams ask technical writers to document software products, writers usually start their projects by analyzing the tasks users will perform when working with them. A task analysis generates a list of procedures—plus the supporting information users need to follow them—and eventually results in a document in which sequentially numbered instructions are the dominant type of information—neatly organized under user-centered task headings and preceded by enabling knowledge. It sounds ideal, classical even. The problem? Users don’t read procedures. Read moreRead More>

By Steve Baty

Published: November 19, 2007

“We continue to see organizations implementing devices such as abbreviated link URLs that jeopardize trust relationships for little or no benefit.”

Despite nearly a decade of research into the fragile nature of trust relationships in online user experiences, we continue to see organizations implementing devices such as abbreviated link URLs that jeopardize trust relationships for little or no benefit.

What is a trust relationship? One widely accepted definition of trust comes from the classic book Foundations of Social Theory, by James S. Coleman. Coleman offers a four-part definition of trust:

  • “Placement of trust allows actions that otherwise are not possible—that is, trust allows actions to be conducted based on incomplete information on the case in hand.
  • “[If] the person in whom trust is placed (trustee) is trustworthy, then the trustor will be better off than if he or she had not trusted. Conversely, if the trustee is not trustworthy, then the trustor will be worse off than if he or she had not trusted.
  • “Trust is an action that involves the voluntary placement of resources—physical, financial, intellectual, or temporal—at the disposal of the trustee with no real commitment from the trustee.
  • “A time lag exists between the extension of trust and the result of the trusting behavior.”

Read moreRead More>

By Patrick Kennedy

Published: November 19, 2007

Organization 2 stars
Content 3 stars
Presenters 4 stars
Proceedings 3 stars
Venue 4 stars
Hospitality 4 stars
Community 4 stars

For any community of practice, especially one that is still growing, it’s crucial to have opportunities to interact and collaborate with our peers and build a vital sense of community. It’s also necessary to set a direction for the profession, find out what our peers are thinking and doing, and recognize and foster talent within the community. And it’s important that all of this occurs—not based on outside influences—but within the local community. This is the situation the information architecture (IA) community currently faces in Australia.

It is for these reasons that the organizers of OZ-IA took the important step of establishing an IA conference in Australia. As IA practitioners, we had previously been forced to travel to the USA or Europe to participate in such events. We needed a local gathering: OZ-IA, now in its second year.

OZ-IA 2007 was held on September 22–23, 2007, in Sydney, Australia. By my estimate, about 100 people attended OZ-IA this year, showing good growth over last year and demonstrating a great deal of support from IA practitioners, other industry groups, and corporate sponsors. Read moreRead More>

By Pabini Gabriel-Petit, Publisher & Editor in Chief

Published: November 5, 2007

UXmatters is a Web magazine whose goal is to fulfill the information needs of UX professionals around the world. Therefore, on the second anniversary of our launch in 2005, we are currently conducting our second annual reader survey to give our readers an opportunity to tell us how we’re doing, what their future content wants and needs are, and something about themselves. What we learn will help our editorial staff better serve the needs of our UXmatters readers. Read moreRead More>

By Daniel Szuc

Published: November 5, 2007

“An important requirement for a Web site is the ability for customers to serve themselves, so they can generally complete their tasks without needing to contact Customer Support or ask a friend for help.”

When customers arrive at a Web site, they have goals and tasks they want to complete—for example, buying a movie ticket, transferring money, signing up for a service, applying for a loan, asking for help, and so on. An important requirement for a Web site is the ability for customers to serve themselves, so they can generally complete their tasks without needing to contact Customer Support or ask a friend for help. However, understandably, there are times when customers do need help from Customer Support—by either speaking over the phone or using live chat—so they can solve more complex problems or complete tasks they cannot complete on their own. In such cases, customers need email addresses and phone numbers that let them contact Customer Support directly.

Sometimes, however, when a customer looks for contact information for Customer Support, it is hidden from view or buried beneath layers of menus. Some companies even deliberately hide their contact information, because they simply don’t want customers to contact them.

So, what factors should you consider if your goal is providing more optimal customer support on the Web? Read moreRead More>

By Steve Psomas

Published: November 5, 2007

Throughout my career as a user experience designer, I have continually asked myself three questions:

  • What should my deliverables be?
  • Will my deliverables provide clarity to me and their audience?
  • Where do my deliverables and other efforts fit within the spectrum of UX design?
“This framework comprises the competencies a UX professional or team requires.”

I have found that, if I do not answer these questions prior to creating a deliverable, my churn rate increases and deadlines slip.

When attempting to answer the third question, I use a framework I discovered early in my career: The Five Competencies of User Experience Design. This framework comprises the competencies a UX professional or team requires. The following sections describe these five competencies, outline some questions each competency must answer, and show the groundwork and deliverables for which each competency is responsible. Read moreRead More>