Beantin

James Royal-Lawson

UX

12 Articles worth reading… (Spotted: Weeks 13-17, 2011)

For your reading pleasure this time, a collection of links (with summaries) including articles related to: web strategy, UX, search, web developement.


Web strategy & User experience

All the kings are dead. Long live the ecosystem.

Nothing is king. Everything is king! Here’s a quote taken from my Beantin Manifesto: “Until we stop arguing about which discipline lies at the top (or bottom) of the pyramid (“xxx is king”), until we start linking these skills horizontally, until we stop boxing ourselves in and closing the lid, our organisations and clients will fail to get the best out of this fantastic medium.”

Hard economic lessons for news

The internet has disrupted a number of industries. Some have take it in their stride, others have fought long and bloody battles to hold it back. News and newspapers still need to wake up and smell the coffee. What use in a newspaper? I wrote at the end of last year. I just love the rules of business models in this post by Jeff. “Tradition is not a business model”.

How to Build the Perfect Facebook Fan Page, 2011 Edition

This is quite a nice little guide to the new look Facebook pages – especially if you’re familiar to how the old ones looked and worked.

Opening the floodgates

In my February newsletter I wrote about how Flattr had all the right pieces but in the wrong order. They needed, amongst other things, so reconsider their user acquisition strategy. They’ve taken a step in the right direction and now you can receive micropayments for your content without being forced to make micropayments to others.

The fall and rise of user experience

Well considered, well observed, thought provoking, inspirational, damning – I’ll stop now and leave you to read Cennydd’s transcript of his speech at IA Summit 2011.

11 articles about An Event Apart Seattle 2011

Over in Seattle at the end of March An Event Apart took place. Luke Wroblewski published his conference notes in the form of 10 blog posts. Lots of UX, design & strategy goodness.

Search

How Google Instant’s Autocomplete Suggestions Work

If you hadn’t already realised, Google’s autocomplete suggestions are complex things. They take into account location (so specific as to what part of town you’re in), language, browsing history, trending topics, legal judgements, sensitive topics, and more.

Hoppande resultat i början av sökmotoroptimeringen

Magnus has written a whole load of posts this week, but I wanted to share this one. I’ve had a few conversations recently where I’ve brough up the affect of “freshness” (grace period) and “trending topics” (QDF – Query Deserves Freshness) on new pages – it deserves a little bit of understanding.

Holistic SEO for the Data driven web

Yet another good post from Jesper – search optimising has always been a balancing act – man and machine. Giving the machines the right (meta)data so that people can find it – using the search mechanisms that they prefer. As the web becomes more semantic and increasingly social, search (behaviour) follows.

Google adding other social sources to realtime, social efforts evolve

Until now it’s been pretty much only Twitter that has appeared in Google’s real-time search (and blended SERPs) but other sources are now starting to appear. So far, I’ve only seen other sources (such as Friendfeed and Facebook) via Google.com.

Intranet

The 13 hats of an internal community manager

Quite a good list from Steve Radick of what’s required from an internal community manager. The specifics will very from organisation to organisation, but generally this covers the role well.

Web developement

The Cicada Principle and Why It Matters to Web Designers

Beautiful. The geek in me wept with enjoyment at this fascinating mix of nature, web design and mathematics.

Coping with Over Four Hundred Devices: How Netflix Uses HTML5 to Deliver Amazing User Interfaces

Step into the world of web management with Netflix, where they are maintaining a cross platform presence using HTML5 (instead of native apps) and some serious split-testing methodology. A relatively small team, A more manageable code base, quicker development – and potentially a more consistent user experience.

Plain english please!

Plain language is better for usability. Giving things descriptive, clear and to the point labels will help users complete their tasks easier.

We’ve talked for years about the inside-out problem where corporate websites let internal terminology seap through into the information architecture of their external web site.

OK, sometimes it’s perhaps some strained attempt at sub-branding, but in most situations I think it’s more effective to use plain language rather than go through the cost and hassle of inventing and establishing a sub-brand.

SL Access

A little while ago I used one of the ticket machines at a Stockholm metro station to buy a ticket for a visiting relative. This is not something I would normally do, being a season pass holder. Being fluent in Swedish, I wouldn’t normally choose English as the language rather than (the default) Swedish,

Seeing the opportunity to do a bit of on-the-spot usability testing of SL’s ticket machine, I tried to stay out of the process as much as possible – only helping when my relative got stuck, or reached the point of giving up on each screen of options. Yes, each screen. We got stuck a lot. There is no real on-screen help at any point. So as a tourist you have to magically understand different zones, concessions, and numerous other things.

With each screen I was increasingly wondering just who the ticket machines were aimed at? No matter which language you choose – English or Swedish – if you were using the ATM to purchase a ticket then it is likely that you are an occasional user of the transport system or a tourist (as regular users would have period cards). Occasional users need guiding and supporting through the process, nothing can be presumed to have been learned or remembered. The labels and language should be simple and intuitive.

MIFARE standard

Photos showing the mysterious MIFARE standard button

The screen that made me shake my head, and inspired this blog post, was the “Select media type” screen that contained the phrase “MIFARE standard” as an option. Media type? MIFARE standard? We opted for “Paper” by deduction as Back, Cancel, and the mysterious MIFARE didn’t seem like the right options. So Paper it had to be.

But what is MIFARE you ask? A search on SL’s website is no help whatsoever. The term MIFARE isn’t used at all on the entire site. As usual, Google will give you the answer – it’s the contactless technology used in SL’s “Access” smart cards and billions of other smart cards around the world.

Screenshot showing no search results for MIFARE on sl.se

Access is the sub-brand created by SL for their smart cards, which given that they have bothered to create a sub-brand, would have been a more sensible option to display on this screen. People just aren’t going to understand what MIFARE Standard is. Not that it will help you, but MIFARE Standard isn’t even the the technology used, it’s actually MIFARE Classic.

Complete lacking of testing

Sadly, despite my ranting above about plain english and sub-branding, I think in this case the problem is down to a complete lack of testing of the Englsh language version. The Swedish version perhaps may not have been tested with real users either, but it does use more sensible language – and in particular doesn’t include the mysterious MIFARE option.

SL introduced a 20kr fee for “Access” smart cards from the 1st of January in an attempt to encourage Stockholmers to reuse and refill their cards more often. Perhaps it would have been more sensible to invest a little more in testing the process and making it a bit more user friendly instead?

12 Articles worth reading… (Spotted: Week 8-9, 2011)

This time, a collection of links (and summaries) including articles related to:Web management, UX, intranets, SEO and web analytics.


Web strategy, Web management & UX

Situational Design for the Web

Responsive web design is all the rage, and rightly so – you can do some incredibly useful things with media queries and user-agent detection. But in this article Alex Dawson, at least in part, argues against a pure, one web *shall* fit all, solution and instead advocates custom solutions for each situation – with design, structure and content that fits each situation best.

Mobile Content Is Twice as Difficult

Even though “Responsive web design” is an excellent way of dealing with different screen (and viewport) sizes, there’s a growing amount of research showing that for significantly different screen sizes, adjusting the design isn’t enough – content (and even navigation and calls to action) need to be customised/optimised for the type of device. Per Axbom pointed out to me this post from 2009 suggesting developing Mobile first.

Why Hover Menus Do Users More Harm Than Good

I’ve seen this in testing and user observations many times. Hover menus are tricky beasts and cause a number of problems. I’m generally not a fan – especially, as on corporate sites, they are often just a bi-product of content-bloat.

Introducing Recipie View, based on rich snippets markup

Google has introduced a “recipes” filter, which includes options to filter further by ingredient, cooking time and number of calories. This has been implemented using microformats. Google enourages you to implement a number of these formats; you should – they’re not encouraging you just for a laugh: Rich Snippets documentation


Intranet

Social #Intranets: Silos, Culture and Moderation

Great post by Jonathan outlining a number of realistic points to take in and take on board concerning social intranets

Intranet Strategy: Shaping the future of your intranet

At the IntraTeam Event Copenhagen 2011 a show of hands indicated that just a handful of the delegates had an intranet strategy. Although still not the case for every website, it’s increasingly common that companies and organisations have strategies in place for them. Intranet’s are lagging behind in this respect. This is Sam’s presentation from the conference.


Search engine optimisation & analytics

Social media and SEO massively undervalued: study

Lots of lovely number in this post that compares measuring conversions with the conventional “last touch” attribution model with “assisted conversions” (where all channels that assisted in the conversion receive credt) and “attributed conversions” (where all channels receive a share of the conversion proportional to how many times the channel featured). Conclusion? Basing your spending on the last channel used before conversion may not be the smartest way of allocating your budget.

Site Speed – Are You Fast? Does it Matter?

Some nice geeky data showing the impact of page speed on ranking. It isn’t, of course, a major factor – as the post says, getting a few backlinks will make a much bigger difference than speeding up your page – but, slow page load times impacts on conversations – people are impatient. You should always aim to make your page as fast as you can reasonably acheive.

User-Friendly SEO

What’s good for humans is usually good for search engines, but it’s crucial to get the execution right. Much of SEO is just good web management. The real optimisation is in making sure it’s done exactly right.

Google Bounce Rates: The Untold Story

Not so much “untold” as “not told often enough”. Bounce rate is frequently misunderstood – as are many of the seemingly easy-to-understand terms and phrases within Google Analytics and web analytics in general.

Seven reasons to use lists in blog posts

A list giving reasons why lists are good. Leading by example. In addition to Shel’s seven reasons, lists are very shareable – which also means they gets linked, which also means they are good for not only generating trafic, but also SEO.


Tools

Just another test text generator

I always enjoy finding tools for generating random text that isn’t Lorem Ipsum. This one has some serious configuration options, including specifying specific languages (yes, Swedish is one of them).

20 Articles worth reading… (Spotted: Week 3-5, 2011)

This edition’s collection of links includes posts related to: Eye tracking and user testing, Intranets, UX, usability and web strategy, SEO, and web development.


User experience, usability & web strategy

Good usability makes a website

This one quote from the article pretty much says enough: “Usability testing is no longer a nice to have but essential to the success of any website.” – if anything, design is the “nice to have” if you are forced to choose.

Should web writers and UX designers use “click here”?

From a usability perspective, we’ve been trying to get web editors to avoid “read more” and “click here” for years. But, for sales links (rather than “resource links”) you get more clicks – which means potentially more conversions.

If you were going to design Flattr’s sign-up process, is this how you’d do it?

Via his blog post and the comments Harry Brignull has, in effect, crowd-sourced the improvement of not only Flattr’s website (their tactics), but also the entire way they are going about building their business (their strategy). This blog post could be the point where Flattr’s tide turned….

A Dead-Simple Change That Increased Our Conversion Rate by Over 250%

Forget your big-bang entire-site redesigns. Let’s tinker more. Small changes can make massive differences; with often very little cost or negative impact on other aspects of your site. In this example, just the wording on a button was changed.

The Right Way to Introduce a New Feature

There are some really bad examples of how to highlight a new feature, but this example from LinkedIn is one of the good one; as Erin explains in blog post.

FAQs as “Lucky Bags”… how not to improve the marketing power of your website

If a question is frequently asked, then obviously it’s important to your users and deserves more loving care than to be consigned to the depths of a FAQ dumped in a lonely corner of your site.


Social media

Guide to Twitter

This blog post in Swedish by Helen Alfvegren is an excellent and exhaustive guide to Twitter. If you are Swedish and thinking of diving in (as a company or an individual), or if you have dabbled but not really got into it – then take a look at this guide.

The Pros and Cons of Merging Your Facebook Page and Place

Some pros and cons with merging a Facebook Place with a Facebook Page. Note that we’re talking about merging here, not associating. You should associate all of your places with your business – but not necessarily merge them.


Search engine optimisation

Findability, SEO, And The Searcher Experience

Although lots of SEO is aimed at optimising for machines, you’ve got to remember the human side too – the search experience.

7 ways to make SMO work in the post-Google age

Ok, I know the writer is just trying to practice what he’s preaching, but “post-Google age” and “SEO is fading away”. Oh please. If you ignore silliness, this article is a good read. SEO isn’t going away, neither is Google any time soon – and SMO (Social media optimisation) and SEO are partners, not enemies.

BBC to cut online budget by 25%

A 25% cut is never fun, lots of things will have to disappear… But let’s focus on the positives. Buried away at the bottom of this article is the gem: “The corporation also said it wanted to double the number of referrals to external websites to 22 million each month by 2013/14.” The more link-love available from the BBC the better for the rest of us I say!


Intranet

What would you want from an introduction to Intranets book?

Kristian has kicked-off a collaborative project to write a book that gives you an introduction to intranets. The list of topics suggested would take the book well beyond an introduction, but refined and produced in multiple languages it could be a really good resource. Plenty of internationally respected names within the world of Intranets have commented on the post. The introduction to intranets site officially launches tomorrow.

What is a social intranet or an intranet 2.0 ?

Some common sense thrown onto the social intranet hype. Quote: “Forget the word social intranet or intranet 2.0. It’s an intranet. Period. The place where the whole organization can meet, exchange, work.”

How NOT to use Yammer: Ragan offers prime example

An amusing insight into Ragan’s first day of using Yammer. I don’t agree with all of the “tips”. What you see here is a reflection of their company culture; not Yammer/whatever social collaboration platform you fancy. Too many rules will kill it off. It’s a cultural change; manage that change – don’t write a rule book.

Survey of 10,000 Yammer Users Reveals Benefits of Enterprise Social Networking

Yes it’s a Yammer survey of Yammer users – but if you can just replace “Yammer” with “Social collaboration” and the figures will still ring true. Yammer is just an example of how such collaborative tools and features as part of a company’s intranet can change behaviour and, ultimately, how effective an organisation is.

Mobile devices are personal devices (and what this means for enterprise apps)

James points out that mobile devices are personal devices – in the context of intranets this not only gives us a whole load of exciting (and useful) opportunities, but also a few challenges – the way we deal with content and services internally needs to change (you even could say “grow up”) in order to make the most of what mobile intranets can offer.

How to Make Paper Communication Productive With QR Codes

Printing in the work-place isn’t going to vanish any time soon – QR Codes though could really help link the paper world with the digital work. There’s lots of potential uses in a working environment, many of them outlines in this post.


Web dev

Google APIs & Developer Products periodic table

Geek-heaven. A periodic table of Google API and developer products. You could lose yourself in this for years. Even non-geeks can do nothing to help be impressed by the sheer range and quantity of what Google offers.


Eye tracking & user testing

User testing: How to recruit the right participants, as it won’t happen by chance!

Recruiting people to take part in testing is an art-form. One of my least favourite tasks. Here’s some tips from James Breeze and the objective Digital crew down under.

AGENCY GUIDE: How to Implement Eye Tracking & Usability

A partcularly useful post this one – some tips from Simple Usability on how to go about including usability testing (and Eye tracking in particular) in your projects – and some tips on how to sell it in to clients.

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