- By Laura E. Lo
- November 27, 2007
Amazon releases the Kindle
With a 6″ display, 600×800 pixel resolution, 4.9″ x 7.5″ x 0.7″ dimensions, free EV-DO, and the “visual flair of an Apple IIc“, the Kindle sold out within 5.5 hours of its release on November 19th. Though many books are available for $9.99, including 101 of the 112 current New York Times Best Sellers, some have misgivings about the Kindle’s proprietary file-format, SD capability, key placement and $399 price tag.
Are eye-tracking studies useful?
“23 Actionable Lessons from Eye-Tracking Studies” suggests they are, in at least 23 ways. But contributors to the IxDA forum bring up interesting questions: Are they useful when applied without consideration of context? Do they simply state the obvious, or merely prove that habits of usage are correlated to design standards?
There is no Google Phone
Two years ago, Google acquired Android. Earlier this month, they unveiled Android – An Open Handset Alliance Project. Speculation abounds as to what this means for the future of the mobile phone and the wireless industry.
There is no Fold
This past summer, Melissa Tarquini published an article at Boxes and Arrows on the myth of the “fold” in web design. Jeff Parks had the opportunity to interview her this month on the same topic. Conclusion? The same. Just because it’s not immediately on the screen doesn’t mean users won’t see it. Users understand scrolling. Don’t assume they will scroll, but stop designing like they won’t.
This is the first of our new weekly news installment, posted every Tuesday at lunchtime.
I enjoy reading Read/WriteWeb, but Alex Iskold recently published a much hyped yet ill-conceived article titled “Google – The Ultimate Money Making Machine“. The article had some very interesting points, but the main analysis was simply wrong.
Iskold’s claim that there is an infinite demand for Google’s goods and services is an erroneous claim. Google primarily makes its money by selling advertising, and there is certainly a limit to the size of online and other advertising markets. In 2006, for example, eMarketer estimated that the size of the online advertising market in the US was roughly $15.6 billion, and Google captured about a quarter of that pie. Undoubtedly, the world wide advertising market is bigger. And as companies move toward internet marketing from traditional advertising and as Google moves into traditional advertising, the pie will get bigger. However, this is a far cry from ‘unlimited’. Google’s market is neither unlimited nor is Google the only player. In fact, as stated above, Google only capitalized on a quarter of the online advertising market – its forte.
Google is not the darling, magical money machine that Iskold and others believe it to be. It is a very well situated company in a large market that is becoming increasingly competitive and will continue getting more competitive in the future. We do live in a free market global economy (roughly), and why would anyone pass up on the opportunity to eat from the succulent advertising money pie?
Well, February was an extremely busy month, and for the shortest month of the year was packed with quite a few gems from the User Experience community. Here is a re-cap of a few articles and concepts that should not go without mention:
An MIT and Harvard study (via Slashdot) unveils that the SiteKey system employed by Bank of America, ING Direct and Yahoo!, among others are likely ineffective at protecting users against fraudulent sites. The SiteKey system is based on assigning an image to a user’s account and presenting it prior to the user entering a password. If the SiteKey does not match the user’s account image, he/she should deduce that the site is not authentic, and thus not safe to enter private information. The results of the study (based on Bank of America site and users) shows that a vast majority of people ignore the SiteKey clues along with the often-overlooked HTTPS indicators. In fact, only 2 of the 25 (8%) participants using their own account, and none of the other 42, chose not to enter their passwords when the site-authentication image was replaced by an upgrade message.
Another interesting finding in the study was the contrast between behaviors of participants that were role playing for the study and those that were actually inputting sensitive information. Definitely worth a read and the final paper is set to appear at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy from May 20-27, 2007 in Oakland, California.
The latest issue of Usability News from the Software Usability and Research Lab (SURL), has a very interesting study – “Eye Gaze Patterns while Searching vs. Browsing a Website” – on web users’ eye gaze patterns while browsing and searching web sites. Findings from the study show that the ‘F’ pattern as described by Jakob Nielson does not hold true for some kinds of web sites.
Results show that users follow a fairly uniform scan path when browsing through pictures, and a more random path while specifically searching through them.
In fact, not only does the study suggest that users’ viewing patterns depend on the nature of the web page (text-rich versus image-rich) but also by the users’ tasks (browsing versus searching).
In a previous article, ‘4 Principles of Effective Navigation on the Web‘, one of the stated keys is letting users know where they can go. One of the most effective ways to let users know what paths are available to them is to expose subsequent destination points. In other words, bubbling up subsections and pages found within top-level sections helps users gain context as well as unearths particular destinations within those sections. Let’s start with an example to illustrate what I mean.
Imagine that you are in a supermarket buying groceries for dinner. Imagine also that this supermarket does not label what kinds of items can be found in each aisle making it impossible for you to know where to go for the next item on your list. To make things worse, the aisles in the store shift around without warning and you never know quite where you are with respect to the last place you’ve been.
This painfully frustrating scenario seems outlandish, yet many websites put their users in this precise situation.
What if you could measure how perfect your website was? If you could definitively say that your website was 100%, pure perfection, wouldn’t you grasp the chance to test how it fares in the test? Well, the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) recently released the results of a study commissioned by Rackspace Managed Hosting which claims to provide exactly this: the ‘Perfect Website Formula.’
- By kimmy
- December 14, 2006
On Wednesday, TechCrunch and Mashable reported the release of Stumble Video, the latest offering from StumbleUpon. Like the core offering, Stumble Video allows users to surf through categories based on preferences and previous ratings, serving up videos instead of websites into one central video player. Beyond a great idea, the implementation is clean and engaging, and happily, the interaction is kept consistent through one player with simple choices and great use of iconography.
On Tuesday, Techcrunch reported that MySpace has semi-officially overtaken Yahoo as having the most page views of any internet property. This revelation was met with moderate fanfare, and other prominent industry blogs like GigaOm and Searchblog did not even go there. There is good reason to take this news with a grain of salt, as it is misrepresentative and hides some very important facts.