Monday, February 27, 2006

Facing Time  Fast Company has a great quotation about time management. Basically, if work requires us to respond to emails on Sunday, we need to be able to set our time limits to go to the movies on Monday afternoon. That is, if companies require us to be available on weekends and evening, then they should also not look askance if we go to the movies in the afternoon or sleep late.
This morning at klatsch at Wired on Robinson, this topic came up. In too many jobs, it doesn't matter if you work until 10 p.m. or on the weekends—if you come in later than those who surf desks, the perception is that you're a slacker. Unfortunately, corporate management often disparages those who come in late...despite other efforts they make.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

PUT-ing Development on the Right Track  I've just written an article for the James River Chapter of STC. It's for their newsletter The Watershed. Here's my central point: Why do we always have time and budget to do things over (“We’ll fix it in the next version”), but we never have time to do things right?
From the article:
I spent two years in Germany, working for an international full-service Internet consultancy. Sometimes we had to check a feature of an application or Web site we were developing. Rather than stop development for a months-long series of usability tests involving video taping, one-way mirrors, and agency-recruited subjects, we relied on the Putzfrau approach. Because Putzfrau means “ cleaning woman,” the idea is to test with someone nearby who’s not part of your specific development project.
We would get someone from another team or department and ask them to perform specific tasks, either on a digital or paper prototype. These quick results helped center the development on user-oriented approaches, rather than technologically oriented ones.
Steve Krug has a wonderful chapter on usability testing in his critically important book, Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability. While he takes the informality of usability testing to its extreme, he does highlight how cost-effective informal testing can be.
Rather than spending $10,000 to $50,000 on a series of usability tests, you can perform tests for a few hundred dollars. This approach eliminates the typical response to suggestions of usability testing, “We don’t have the budget for testing.”
We’ve all heard that before. I maintain, Why do we always have time and budget to do things over (“We’ll fix it in the next version”), but we never have time to do things right?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Missing Another Summit  Sadly, I'll be missing the Information Architecture Summit in Vancouver in March. It's too bad, too, because it's my favorite conference & training event. I always learn so much, I always get inspired—even when, like last year, I felt like one of the uncool kids. After a few emails & stuff, I'm feeling much better about that ;)
Still, the IA Summit is an important event in the user experience (UX) world. But try telling that to Central Virginia business leaders. Bottom line: this state don't git it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hard At Work

Hard At Work  The Good Humor Band at Poe's on Sunday was, as I said earlier, just simply amazing! Fun, funny, and brilliant. Go to the band's site for their story. You won't be sorry!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Another Example of Poor Usability  The Virginians who want to roll back the estate tax have an example of extremely poor usability. A link purports to take you to a map contrasting states with

So here's the question: what does blue mean, and what does white mean? Without a legend, this map loses meaning.
Sheesh. Yet another example of the dearth of UX in Virginia.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The WayBack Machine in Full Function  The Good Humor Band landed this weekend for its annual wacky music fest. Too bad for those who missed it, and too bad for me to have missed every one since the early 80s. Still, I finally got to see the bad boys of comedy (and musical excellence) for the first time since I went off to the Army way back when.
What a show—or should I say "shows." Saturday night at The Canal Club was fabulous. Great sound, nice stage, and cold beers. With Terry Garland ripping through a flawless set of blues, the evening was set. Even Joe McGlohon's daughter's band did a quick set of 80s covers to warm things up.
But the night belonged to the Humoroids. From "A Cowboy's Work is Always Done" to "Harlem Nocturne," the excellent musicianship combined with, well, good humor, made for a wonderful night.
Sunday afternoon at Poe's Pub also proved to be a never-forgetter. Guests such as Robbin Thompson (who can forget the band's intro to him?), Chuck Wrenn, and drummer David Eggleston's teenage son (is he even yet a teen?)(whose version of "Iko Iko" showcased his second-line skills, while Led Zeppelin's "Rock & Roll" was just short of fabulous) helped create a true party atmosphere.
All in all, I felt taken back to 1979 at the Pass...what a gas!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Meme-Tagged  Thanks to Joe, I've been tagged. So, why not? It's all fun...

Four Jobs I've Had
1. fry cook (shortorder cook)
2. radio DJ
3. blues band road manager
4. soldier

Four Movies I Can Watch Over And Over
1. Casablanca
2. Sullivan's Travels
3. The Quiet Man
4. Almost Famous (the extended version)

Four Places I've Almost Lived, And Still Plan To
1. Brussels
2. Austin
3. San Francisco
4. Amsterdam

Four TV Shows I Love
1. Curb Your Enthusiasm
2. Combat!
3. The Daily Show
4. Arrested Development

Places I've Vacationed
1. the Canary Islands
2. Nag's Head
3. Trento
4. Le Canal du Midi

Four of My Favorite Dishes
1. Carolina Barbecue
2. Red beans & rice
3. Sushi
4. Soft Chicken Tacos

Four Sites I Visit Daily
1. Wildguzzi's forum - sometimes fun, especially when you can't ride
2. - my news site, my TV channels, & my movie times
3. - actually, the Web mail part for internal users
4. Army Knowledge Online...

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now
1. Working on a billable project
2. Riding my Moto Guzzi Breva 750
3. Sipping a mojito on the beach
4. Hamburg

Four Bloggers I'm Tagging
1. Heiko (who's probably been tagged way too many times, but still...)
2. Brutally Honest (hey, I'm an equal-opportunity blogger)
3. Girlwonder (Molly probably has no time, but still...)
4. (I'm workin' on it)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Murder in the Ville  So another person is murdered in Richmond. Not necessarily a big deal, in that we constantly appear in the top 10 murder cities of the U.S. Yet this one was a block from my house. So when it comes into your neighborhood, yeah, it's a big deal.
It's Still About Usability  So Heiko blogs about usability. That's nice, 'cause he does get it. But what's not so nice is that products still aren't designed from a user's perspective. I've been trying to get this message across, yet except for New York, Chicago, and the Bay area, most places don't seem to get it. Instead, they hire business analysts instead of user-experience analysts...with the result that the products' designs reflect the desires of the business, not the needs of the users.
Same old story, same old song and dance.