Tag Archives: usability

SXSW 2010 Interactive: How The Other Half Lives – Touring The Digital Divide

16 Mar

Have you ever wondered what it was like to not own a computer or have daily access to the Internet?

Probably not.

How The Other Half Lives – Touring The Digital Divide, was a great panel discussing how two librarians, Jessamyn West and Jenny Engstrom, handle teaching those who don’t have regular access to computers and the Web. West and Engstrom both discussed the types of hurdles and financial struggles they have to deal with on a daily basis. Though grants have been available in the past to teach technology in libraries, once those grants dry up, they struggle with finding the resources to teach those that want to learn. With the economic downturn, it has become even more difficult.

They also discussed how important usability is for those who don’t have regular access to technology. Though the admitted Internet Explorer is not the best web browser, it is what they have to use in many cases on their library computers. Both also discussed how jargon like cookies and operating systems fall on deaf ears for people that utilize their technology.

“Most people only have 45 minutes on the computer, so make it worth their time,” Engstrom said, citing how most libraries have a forced time limit on computers.

She said things like forced registration and instructional video for a site waste time. She suggested puttting a list of steps people can read, but also making sure not to force users to download a PDF or any other document.

They also said many are worried people will steal their identity and beleive they are at risk already. Part of usability for those on the digital divide means assuring that their information is safe and that the Web site as a whole is easy to access and use.

“We have lots of people who can tell you just how bad your Web site usabillity sucks,” West said.

Check out their slides used in the presentation here if you want to learn more about the digital divide, usability and libraries and technology access.

SXSW 2010 Interactive: Monday recap

16 Mar

Though I only spent half the day at Interactive Monday, I still managed to take in a few interesting panels and the day’s keynote with Twitter co-founder Evan Williams.

Keynote

A lot of critcism was lobbed toward Williams and his interviewer, Umair Haque, who is the director of the Havas Media Lab at Harvard and writes a blog for the Harvard Business Review. The Wall Street Journal has a good piece wrapping up the keynote and why it was unsuccessful at capturing people’s attention.

No backchannel was needed to gauge the public’s tepid response to the event, in which Williams announced the launch of Twitter’s @anywhere function and was subsequently lobbed softball questions by interviewer Umair Haque of the Harvard Business Review. (Haque, ironically, is the author of a book entitled “The Awesomeness Manifesto.”)

Williams talked about @anywhere at the start of his keynote ad after that things started to go downhill. There were a few audio problems that interrupted the start of the keynote and Haque’s questions became more like monologues where he talked about some blog post he had written or a random experience using Twitter.

Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how @anywhere develops. According to the blog post released minutes after Williams announcement, @anywhere will allow sites to embed links to Twitter profiles on their page and users can start following, tweet the link or peek their profile them without ever leaving the site.

Imagine being able to follow a New York Times journalist directly from her byline, tweet about a video without leaving YouTube, and discover new Twitter accounts while visiting the Yahoo! home page—and that’s just the beginning.

My Three-Year Old Is My Usability Expert

This solo panel featured Dave Stanton of the Poynter Institute, who discussed simplify web and game design in order to provide a better user experience. He gave examples of his three-year-old daughter Lucy and demonstrated how she interacted with various games. Stanton advocated the use of schema theory, which tells us that the brain structures things into categories. We, as designers, need to appeal to those categories in order to make designs more user friendly.

Hold the Cocoa: Building iPhone Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

Jonathan Stark, who develops mobile applications for a living, gave some great tips, tools and tricks for building mobile apps using just HTML, CSS and javascript. He provided a link to his slideshow presentation on his site in addition to links to downloads to start building apps.

Basically, Stark utilizes the PhoneGap framework and jQTouch to create apps and tap into built in features like the accelerometer, GPS, vibration and sound. Definitely give this a look if you want to get around learning Objective C and dive straight into app development.