Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Google Analytics tutorials on YouTube

Google Analytics official online tutorials, plus Web Analytics TV With Avinash Kaushik and Nick Mihailovski.

The tutorials are short and to the point. Analytics TV are longer features hosted by Analytics expert and author, Avinash Kaushik.

Avinash wrote the book 'Web Analytics an hour a day' and also blogs about web analytics.

Google Analytics' YouTube channel

Occam's Razor - Avinash Kaushik's analytics blog

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Google Global - Firefox add-on

This looks like it could be a useful tool for those interested in their site's performance in different parts of the world. A free extra for Firefox that enables you to replicate a Google search in different parts of the world.

I've only played with it so far - mainly because I don't do any international web marketing - but it certainly seems to be well regarded by professionals in the field.

Google Global Firefox Extension - FAQs, screenshots and demo video from the creators Redfly

Firefox add-ons download page, including reviews

Friday, 26 March 2010

Top website tasks - Gerry McGovern interview

Gerry McGovern talks about his concept of the long neck. The small number of tasks that are fundamental to a website's existence. He's quite an eccentric, enthusiastic speaker so the interview (conducted by Gerry Gaffney) is both entertaining and enlightening. He includes lots of examples of his work and experiences.

Every organisation I go into... [say] "Oh no, no, no, no, we don't have a small set of things that are really, really important, we've got millions of things."

And you know what that essentially is? "We are not managers. We are afraid to manage, we don't want to manage, we don't want to make difficult choices."

Because the non-manager chooses everything, because by choosing everything you don't make enemies internally, you don't really get stressed. "Ah, yeah, we'll put that up, we need to give resources to that." That's the non-manager.

Every piece of content matters - an interview with Gerry McGovern by Gerry Gaffney (mp3 download and interview transcript)

Influencing decision makers - selling usability

A couple of interesting podcasts from usability professionals talking about how best to raise the profile of usability and user centred design with managers and decision makers.

Selling usability - Gerry Gaffney interviews John Rhodes, author of Selling Usability: User Experience Infiltration Tactics.

I particularly liked this point:

Companies don’t really care about user experience and usability any more than, for example, they care about... electricity. A company doesn’t care about electricity. Usability is a means to an end for companies...

Selling usability - UXPOD interview with John Rhodes (mp3 download and interview transcript)

Turning HiPPOs into Allies: How to Connect with Powerful People in Your Organization - a presentation by Samantha Starmer

HiPPO stands for Highest Paid Person's Opinion.
Sarah says that to find success in moving the practice of user centred design forward in both individual companies and in the larger world of business, we must learn how to manage HiPPOs and turn them into allies. She offers her insights and several ideas about how to effectively connect with your HiPPO.

Presentation overview - Turning HiPPOs into Allies

Turning HiPPOs into Allies presentation by Samantha Starmer (audio download)

Friday, 19 March 2010

Free accessibility book & podcast

I listened to an interesting interview with Shawn Henry, accessibility expert and author of Just Ask: Integrating Accessibility Throughout Design.

She talks to Gerry Gaffney about the release of version 2 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, and usability testing with disabled users.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.0 - an interview with Shawn Henry (mp3 download and full transcript)

The book
Shawn's introduction summarises what her book is all about:

This book helps you improve your products—websites, software, hardware, and consumer products—to remove accessibility barriers and avoid adding new barriers. One guiding principle is: just ask people with disabilities.
Note that the book reflects US disability discrimination legislation.
Just Ask: Integrating Accessibility Throughout Design - free online book by Shawn Henry

Prototyping: Picking the right tool

A free chapter from Todd Warfel's book - Prototyping: A Practitioner's Guide.

Todd's research found website developers and usability professionals using a wide range of tools and techniques. Some of them pretty surprising. Excel anyone?

The bottom line here is use whatever you're comfortable with. Whatever will get you what you need as quickly and as easily as possible.

Observing the participant's interaction and talking about it is what's important, not the tool used to create the prototype, after all.

Number one on the list is paper and pencil. No learning curve with that one.

Prototyping: Picking the right tool - by Todd Zaki Warfel

I blogged Todd's book a little while ago, with a link to another free chapter. His book is now on my shelf.

Prototyping book by Todd Warfel

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Bad usability calendar

Bad usability calendar 2010
A free PDF poster download from Netlife Research, an Oslo-based usability company. Print one off and stick it on your wall.

They've been producing these for 6 years now. Previous years' calendars are worth a look too. Lots of tips to try and keep in the forefront of your mind, and one or two may raise a smile.

2010 Bad usability calendar - by Netlife Research

Persona presentation in Edinburgh

This month's Scottish Usability Professional's Association session on Tuesday 30 March is titled "Designing for personas" and will be presented by Andy Bright, a Glasgow-based experience architect.

Designing for personas - full details and booking form for Scottish UPA session

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Content is critical, delete some - Gerry McGovern

You publish too much. More than you can manage. So much that it obscures what's really important on your website. It probably damages your reputation too. So says Gerry McGovern.

Before you begin a website redesign, or consider a move to a new content management system, or decide that you really don't have time to weed out the old, irrelevant material, read this fantastic series of short articles.

Web content migration: disastrous strategy - article by Gerry McGovern
How many webpages can one person manage? - article by Gerry McGovern

Removing poor quality content increases customer satisfaction - article by Gerry McGovern

Business case for deleting content - article by Gerry McGovern

How to manage out of date content - article by Gerry McGovern

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Navigation development strategy

An interesting interview with Hagan Rivers on about how she approaches navigation. She's talking about web applications like online shopping carts here, but the principles apply equally to 'ordinary' website content.

She suggests treating the navigation as a separate development. So, for the majority of her time she focuses on the content of the screens - working with users and stakeholders to get these right - with the navigation effectively blanked out. She works on scenarios where she doesn't worry about how the user got to a particular point. She just focuses on the interaction there and then. Only when she's 60 to 70% of her way through the project does navigation begin to be developed.

I like this approach because it tallies with what others say about web development and how we try to progress our projects: the strategy drives the content which in turn drives the structure.

So often a structure is put in place before there is a clear set of objectives for a site (if they ever materialise at all!), and before much (if any) content is written.

Escaping navigation hell - Jared Spool interviews Hagan Rivers (listen online or download mp3 podcast)

The page also contains a good overview of the podcast, with the most pertinent quotes included.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Prototyping tool reviews

A couple of articles listing the pros, cons and costs of a range of prototyping options.

Rapid prototyping tools - article by Dan Harrelson

16 user interface prototyping tools reviewed - article by Russell Wilson

Prototyping Q&A podcast

A great interview with prototyping advocate Fred Beecher. It's a follow up from an online seminar Fred had run previously for, but stands well on its own and is worth a listen. The podcast is free to download, or you can listen from the webpage.

The questions posed are those sent in from people watching his presentation. Amongst others, he covers:
  • Can you tell us how design differs from prototyping, and where  elements like visual design and wireframing fit in?
  • Does prototyping require organizational change? Anything you  recommend when working with others in the organization that aren’t  members of the design team?
  • What are the best methods and tools for online testing?
  • What recommendations do you have for collaboration when working with  people in different locations, and possibly at different skill levels?
  • Which prototyping tools do you recommend, and how do they differ, from low fidelity to high fidelity?

Prototyping question and answer session - Fred Beecher in conversation on (listen online or download mp3 podcast)

McGovern warns of the dangers of redesign

A nice little article in which Gerry McGovern warns against change for change's sake in your website's design. He challenges the organisation's motivation and urges us to focus on the user's goals.
Offline marketing and communication is about getting attention. Web marketing and communication is about paying attention.

You pay attention to why customers have come to your website. You judge success based on whether they have succeeded in quickly completing the tasks they came to complete.

Website design: Impatient versus bored - article by Gerry McGovern

UK high street shops online - accessibility review

Webcredible have produced a free report comparing the accessibility of high street stores online.

It's easy to skim and comprehend - well worth a look if you want to get a feel for how and why certain design and editorial decisions affect a site's accessibility and usability.

Ecommerce accessibility for high street retailers 2010 - free report by

See how a screenreader presents your webpage

Fangs is an add-on for the Firefox web browser. It's a really quick way to get a feel for just how easy it is to scan the information in a webpage when the style and images are missing. Just how a someone with a screenreader gets it.

It's very easy to install and use. Once included as an add-on in Firefox, just right click somewhere in your page and choose View Fangs. The screenreader perspective then opens in a new window.

Right click select Fangs
Right click in the page and select Fangs

Fangs presents your webpage how a screenreader sees it

Fangs presents the webpage as a screenreader would read it

Get Fangs Screen Reader Emulator for Firefox

10 unexpected online user behaviours

10 unexpected behaviours if you've not watched anyone surf your website. Well worth a read if you have little or no time to do your own accompanied surfing sessions.

If you have watched anyone use your site, you're likely to have seen at least some of these. See how many you can tick off.

10 unexpected online user behaviours to look out for - article by Alistair Gray for

Friday, 5 March 2010

Using webstats to inform site structure

A nice article by an information architect on how she uses here website analytics tool to help here establish a site structure, or make amendments.

Lots of hints and tips, and step by step instructions.

I look at Web analytics as one more tool in my research toolbox.

While I might use focus groups to get opinions on issues to explore or usability tests to look at the performance of specific areas of the site, I use analytics to find areas that might be otherwise overlooked.

The findings from my analytics reports influence the information architecture and the content strategy of a site just like any other piece of research and also can provide a way to pave the way for future research.

Web analytics and information architecture  - article by Hallie Wilfert