Friday, September 28, 2007

Virtual user research in Second Life

Just reading a write-up User testing in Second Life by Lisa Herrod at Sitepoint, of a presenattion at the recent OZ-IA confernece in Sydney, User Research in Virtual Worlds from Gary Bunker and Gabriele Hermansson, both from Hyro.

Interesting indeed.

I am a slight cynic of the whole Second Life virtual world model especially when users are flocking to webpage models of social interaction like facebook, mySpace and leaving second life to a slightly faddish geek set at the moment.

I am currently playing around with a few online card sorting tools and think they are great tools for IA validation and wide spread quantative research but not replacements for good live person exercises.

I do not believe good focus groups can be run in a virtual environment as one can not view the side looks, or comments, the physical reponse to a comment from other participants where real value can be produced. It's not what they say but what they do. Valid for actually user testing but equally valid for focus groups and interviews.

The whole point of focus groups is person to person interaction and discussion. The presentation of avatars and digital represenation of discussion items does not truly do this justice.

Also its ridiculous to think that second life represents a wide enough user base for most websites. Second life is well overrepresented by narrow audiences and age groups. We don't even know that an avatar is actually a 45 year old white female, or a 15 year old etc etc.

Real people skills are the key the success in user research. The need to talk and engage with actual users represented as they truly are. We need to move away from technology itself to make technolofgy more friendly and intuitive for users not the other way round.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Wiki in the enterprise

Shiv Singh has written a post on the evolution and issues for the wiki at his well known online agency Avenue A/Razorfish.

He shares an informative and useful presentation with screenshots and usage figures.
Very worthwhile if you're currnetly managing or looking at wikis internally.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Web analytic standards

The Web Analytics Association (yes there is one) have released a groups of 26 standard definitions for web analytic measurements.

By recommending standards, definitions and terminology, we can collectively enable common ways of looking at data measurement and methodologies—resulting in:

  • More meaningful industry benchmarking
  • Comparability of results among different tools
  • Better understanding of the metrics terms we all use

I think that while any move to standardise the language and definitions of web statistics will be a difficult one, the idea is sound. The Association is looking for feedback on their initial recommendations.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Intranets ''07

Due to a recent change of employer I will no longer be able to chair or present at the upcoming Sydney Intranets '07 event.

It is always a great event with some excellent speakers and organisations involved.
I hope to be attending next year.

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Users 'see' simple things

Jakob Nielsen is at his best when he produces clear and simple results of his research.

His latest alertbox, 'Fancy Formatting, Fancy Words = Looks Like a Promotion = Ignored' is a good example. Despite the number being clearly 'visible' (in bold red large font) on the homepage many users couldn't find the US population on the US Census site.

The reasons? The popluation stat was called a 'population clock' rather than just 'The US population is ....' and that the location and style of the population made users think it could be and ad 'banner blindness'.

Great article for content people, IAs and designers.

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Full code press

One of the coolest events I've heard about in a while is Full code press.

The concept is simple. Web teams take each other on, at the same location, to build a complete website in 24 hours. No excuse, no extensions, no budget overruns.

It was first held a few weeks ago in Sydney and involves a team from Australia and New Zealand. The teams build sites for two different charities and involve an IA/usability person, coders, designers and a project manager.

This year NZ (the 'codeblacks') won. Congrats to everyone involved.

Next year it's in Wellington.


Auckland intranet and portal conference

The 2007 Brightstar intranet and portal conference went really well last week. Or so I heard/read, unfortunately at the last minute I couldn't make it. My presenattion slides will still be made available to those people that attended through their conference login.

Michael Sampson has written up detailed coverage (as he did last year).

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Hope for intranet managers?

Gerry McGovern has written a post 'Hope for intranet Managers' and includes a link to his recent intranet survey.

I meet a lot of intranet managers who are frustrated with their jobs. It's easy to understand why. But we need to be clever here. We need to get things in perspective. We need to think long-term.