The Insighter

January 2008

View all articles on our new site

Neo Insight's e-newsletter on Usability topics and techniques.
We invite you to subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.

In this issue

Upcoming events

Feb 12, 2008 CapCHI talk: The CRC/NRC virtual classroom program, Ottawa
Feb 19-22, 2008 UX Intensive, San Francisco
Mar 26-28, 2008 Web App Summit, Coronado Island, California
Apr 5-10, 2008 Computer-Human Interaction conference, Florence, Italy

Gerry McGovern returns to Ottawa!

May 5-6: Gerry McGovern Masterclass: Creating customer-centric websites

Following an immensely successful 2-day Masterclass in November, we are pleased to announce that Neo Insight are bringing Gerry McGovern to Ottawa again in May. More than 280 people attended the sold out November workshop. The response to Gerry's powerful, communicative and entertaining style was overwhelmingly positive: "Gerry is an excellent, knowledgeable and entertaining speaker who captivates your attention throughout the session." and "Mr. McGovern offers some outstanding insights, research results, and advice." were typical feedback.

Gerry will be presenting his 2-day Masterclass - "Creating Customer-Centric Websites" on May 5-6, 2008. Find out more about Gerry's approach and techniques.

May 7: Special half-day session: Managing strategy on your website

In addition, many attendees told us that they needed a version of the Masterclass for senior managers and executives. We spoke to Gerry about this, and he has put together an additional special event to take place on Wednesday May 7. This half-day event is tailored specifically for those senior managers and executives who have to translate strategic plans and visions into coordinated actions by other people. In this special session, Gerry will show how a client focused approach will take your vision and generate positive action on your website, focused on your strategic objectives.

Additional opportunities to work with Gerry McGovern

In the few days following the workshops, Gerry will be available for a very limited number of private team sessions. Invite Gerry into your organization for a half day to work with your team, focused on your specific objectives and challenges! Be sure to book Gerry as soon as possible.

Stay in touch - don't miss the news

Once again, we will be working closely with the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI) on the announcements and registration for these exciting events. The first workshop sold out quickly, so we recommend you:

Back to Top

10 New Year's resolutions for your website

Websites are just like the rest of us. They sometimes get out of shape, put on weight, have challenges that they find difficult to achieve, and sometimes lose sight of their priorities in all the stress and workload of day-to-day living.

Like us, maybe the New Year is a good time for your website to make resolutions. So just take it firmly by the hand, put it in front of a mirror, and get it to make the following resolutions: "I will...

  1. Stop being a pack-rat
    I will stop collecting stuff just because it might come in useful some day
  2. Make my words count
    ...and say more useful things with fewer words
  3. Just say “no”
    I will have a strategy for people who tell me to “just put this up” on the website
  4. Make sure users can carry out their priority tasks
    I will spend 5-10% of my effort ensuring they can do them effectively and efficiently
  5. Take control of on-site search make sure priority searches get the best results
  6. Involve end-users participants in the design process right from the start
  7. Spend more time on making sure content is excellent
    ...and less time producing new content
  8. Measure my progress
    ... in terms of impact and successful task outcomes for users
  9. Use strategic data
    ...about user behaviour to fend off demands based on opinion and politics
  10. Stop trying to be all things to all people
    I will focus my effort on the 5% of content which delivers 25% or more of my value

But then you could be kind to your website. Say to it "Tell you what, let's not be too ambitious. Just pick any three of those to tackle this year and I'll give you my full support any way I can".

Back to Top

Don't talk about the experience - be the experience!

Some folks still seem to be finding it hard to understand some basics of Web content and how hyperlinks work. They're still producing web content as if it’s print. Still writing about things instead of being the things.

This happens at a high level, where websites talk about the wonderful services they provide for their clients, instead of providing excellent service. It also happens at a task level, where web pages give instructions as to what to do, rather than providing the links to allow the user to just do them (see our earlier newsletter article on this: Web content is where the action is!).

And it happens at a fine level of detail, too. We still see web pages where text describes links instead of being the link. Not sure what we mean? Here’s a couple of quick examples.

Talking about a link: Interactions Magazine digital launch

We subscribe to Interactions Magazine, a publication of the ACM's Special Interest Group in Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI). Just recently, they announced a new online version. Great, because publishers provide lots of neat enhancements in their online versions - the ability to search, to download, to link to related articles, to email articles to others, etc. But right at the end of the announcement was the following paragraph:

Paragraph from Interactions Magazine online launch.

"Click on the above cover image...(etc)"??? Why do they need to instruct the reader to look elsewhere on the page and to click on an image? And what would someone using a screen-reader make of a link called "Click on the above cover image...(etc)" that links somewhere else? Why not just provide the link right there, just when and where the user needs it, with an understandable label?

What makes this bit of instruction doubly absurd is that the underlined text actually is a link! So there's no need to talk about clicking on the cover image! In addition, a statement like "This link will take you directly to the digital edition...(etc)" is just a waste of space and of the reader's brain cells and effort. People know what links are by now, for goodness sake! The entire paragraph could have been replaced with something like:

And even that's perhaps a little wordy!

Talking about a link: Dell security policy

When you purchase a product from Dell, they provide information about their Secure Shopping Guarantee. All good and reassuring stuff. At the end of one description, there is a short paragraph:

Dell paragraph with link to security policies.

Oh dear. Why would someone put this on a web page? Maybe they grew up writing for print and haven't yet caught on to how the web works. Why not just a link: More about Dell's security and privacy practices? But maybe Dell's Content Management System prevents the author from knowing the URL for the security link, and maybe central page content isn't automatically updated if the security destination page should move. Whatever the reason - individual or organizational - it's resulted in another little bit of absurd Web writing. What makes this example infuriating is that the text actually appears in a pop-up window which has no "lefthand sidebar"! There is nowhere to click!

Don't talk about the experience - be the experience!
So, don’t talk about the link, be the link. Don’t talk about what to do, just let people do it. And don’t talk about the wonderful things you do, just do them – wonderfully, of course! Don't talk about the experience, be the experience.

Back to Top

Neo Insight looks for global associates

Neo Insight's client base is growing rapidly, geographically as well as in numbers. We are looking for excellent individuals worldwide to help us grow - at first on a one-off contract basis, but building into a successful long-term relationship. If you have the right skills and experience (including the ability to work independently and in distributed small teams using collaborative technology), and think you would like to work with us, we'd be interested to hear from you.

Certain kinds of Customer Experience and usability work lend themselves more readily to our distributed small team approach. For working collaboratively at a distance, we would like associates to:

  • Conduct expert heuristic analyses
  • Conduct comparative or competitive usability analyses
  • Plan, design and carry out remote usability tests
  • Prototype with tools such as Dreamweaver, Photoshop, HTML, and JavaScript

Email us with your résumé and provide examples of your work.

Back to Top

Quote of the month

“People commonly use statistics like a drunk uses a lamp post; for support rather than illumination.”

Mark Twain

If you have any comments on The Insighter, or ideas on usability topics you'd like to hear about, send us an email with your comments.

We invite everyone to subscribe to the Insighter, our monthly e-newsletter.

If you wish to unsubscribe, just send us an unsubscribe email.

  Home   About Us   Services   Case Studies   Training   Teamworks