Monthly Archives: February 2003 David Riecks pointed me to his site on controlled vocabularies. David discusses the benefits of using CVs and offers a lot of examples of heavily-used controlled vocabularies and thesauri. Since David is a photographer, he also has a special interest in image indexing and devotes a special section to image databases and CVs. [ia/ – information architecture news]

Usability of Specs?

Usability of Specs?. Ever been frustrated when what the developers built didn't match what you designed or architected? Maybe your specification had some usability problems itself. Brian Krause has useful tips in Getting Creative With Specs: Usable Software SpecificationsAn effective, usable spec serves two main purposes: First, it elicits feedback early, which helps to avoid problems and misunderstandings later on. It's especially important that clients are able to identify any missing functionality in the design, for example. Second, an effective spec ensures the software stays in line with the designer's intentions as it's built — in other words, the spec is precise enough that a competent engineer will build the interface as it was designed. [ia/ – information architecture news]

Jakob's best Alertbox in a long time.

Jakob's best Alertbox in a long time.. The advice on intranets and staff directories is useful in Jakob's latest piece Employee Directory Search: Resolving Conflicting Usability Guidelines. But that's not why I think it's the best Alertbox in recent memory. It's because it shows the complex and paradoxical issues that comes with any signficant design.

“It is very common to have conflicting usability guidelines. They are called “guidelines” rather than “specifications” for a reason: they are necessarily fuzzy because they relate to human behavior. Interface design requires trade-offs. The challenge is in knowing how to balance the conflicting guidelines and in understanding what is most important in a given situation.”

While he still suggests usability testing as the resolution to the guideline conflict (not always true), it's a refreshing dose of dogma-lite Nielsen. [ia/ – information architecture news]

Wi-Fi Alliance sets July as tenative date for 802.11g interoperability testing

Wi-Fi Alliance sets July as tenative date for 802.11g interoperability testing: reports that products certified as interoperable with the 802.11g could be on shelves as soon as August. I've already seen a few signs that I can't discuss yet that indicate rapid movement among vendors to assure continuous improvement in existing implementations.  [80211b News]

Exploring Office 2003

Exploring Office 2003. After Office 11 ships, we face a classic chicken-and-egg scenario. Developers can't really learn the art of modeling data in business documents without user feedback. But users can't provide that feedback until they start actually working with XML-enriched documents. Office 11's XML support isn't a final solution. Rather, it allows for a long, difficult, and absolutely vital bootstrapping process. [Full story at] [Jon's Radio]