Fast Design and Bad Taste

Paul Graham wrote about why he thinks America is wealthy and ugly. And, while it pains me to say it, he is basically correct. We Americans are very good at generating wealth and very bad at having good taste. This is of course a broad generality, there are plenty of Americans with good taste and others with no ability to generate wealth.

Mouse Adaptor Compensates for Hand Tremors

IBM and Montrose Secam have partnered to release an adaptor for a computer mouse that will help users with hand tremors use pointing devices. The devices cost approximately $100 (US) and are available for sale online. The adaptor plugs into the PS/2 post and the mouse then plugs into the adaptor. If the computer lacks a PS/2 port there is a PS/2 to USB adapator available. The adaptor compensates for the tremors by filtering unintended hand motions, sending only the intentional hand movements on to the computer. It also compensates for difficulties with double clicking. This project was started by an IBM researcher named James Levine.

Using Ajax Wisely

Ajax is a set of technologies that is used to rewrite part of a web page without a complete page refresh. Jesse James Garret coined the term to describe a set of technologies currently coming into their own. This happens by using JavaScript to send a request to the server for information and then using DOM based JavaScript to rewrite a portion of the web page with the data that is returned. Using this method allows for complex form validation while the user is filling out the form in stead of and in addition to validation following submission. This means that a user can enter their ZIP code for their shipping address and see the shipping charges added to the […]

The Cost of Bad Labeling

My brother called home the other day to say that the check engine light had come on in our Mazda 626. He brought it home and we took it to the dealership. The service people looked at the car and called this morning with the verdict: the gas cap hadn’t been tightened all the way. Price: $110. So why is this a problem? Well for one thing the gas cap really isn’t a part of the engine. So when my brother saw the light he checked the oil and coolant, and various other things that are found in the engine of the car. But he didn’t think to tighten the gas cap. That cost $110. $110 dollars because someone at […]

Optimizing Processes Globally

Over time every individual and group will develop patterns of behavior that they repeat regularly while they work. These patterns can be formalized as documented business processes or left undocumented, but gradually they will solidify and become patterns of behavior that are difficult to break out of. Sometimes these patterns will represent extremely efficient ways of accomplishing a task, but often they were developed ad hoc as needed and we encounter a phenomenon called Sub-Global Optimization.

Quick Tip: Fresh Eyes

Next time you’ve spent hours working on a layout grab someone who has not seen it yet and ask them to look at it and tell you the first things they see. Don’t let them study the page, just have them glance at it and tell you what pops out at them. If it’s not the most important pieces of information on that page then you’re headed back to the drawing board.

Building Awareness For Your Brand

A web site alone is not going to build awareness for your brand. We run into this problem time and time again with clients. The key is finding the right way to drive traffic to your web site. These are a few simple ways to attract more people to your site: Offer an incentive Post your URL on all marketing materials Crosslink with related web sites Write articles for trade journals and web sites and include your URL in the article

Finding the Essence

Starting from a blank slate to create a new site can be a refreshing experience, a chance to get it right the first time. However, with so many possibilities for what you can build how do you decide where to begin? What is vital to the success of the project, and what is just gravy? And, to beat the metaphor into the ground, do we need the gravy or is it a tasty treat that will kill us slowly over time? Step One After your initial research and brainstorming sessions you are likely left with a wish list for features and functionality that is longer than a greedy kids letter to Santa. Step one is to define the essence of […]

Making a Positive First Impression

There are some simple steps that will give people a positive first impression when they visit your website: Make the web site visually appealing Make access to relevant information quick and easy Present product information clearly to help customers make informed decisions Make buying your product / service and contacting your company as simple as possible Visual Appeal By making your website visually appealing, it gives the visitor the feeling that they are visiting a reputable site. This is a key to successful E-commerce because people will not purchase goods or services from a site they don’t trust. When you spend the time and money to make a web site look trustworthy it yields results in increased sales. This will […]