Information Design Watch

September 16, 2004, 3:34 pm

RSS Stalled?

By d/D

Web Designer Andrew Boardman has some interesting comments about whether the spread of the RSS syndication standard has stalled and what could get it going again. His kicker:

“Web browsers need to find a way to integrate RSS into their interfaces. Apple’s Safari is slated to do this, but until Microsoft works out a way to do it, RSS will fail.”

http://www.deckchairs.net/blogs/main/archives/000651.html

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Technology

September 16, 2004, 3:32 pm

Mapping Census Data

By d/D

One rich body of publicly-available data is the U.S. Census. The Census Bureau itself publishes many reports based on this data. Filled with tables, charts and maps, these are interesting for their information design practice as well as their analysis.

As an example of how simple adjustments can clarify the display of data, we modified the “Differences in 2-Year Average Uninsured Rates by State” map on p. 24 of the report linked below. In our version, the three gradations of color on the map are matched to the negative to zero to positive range of the numbers in the data, making the extremes easier to distinguish.

The original report:

Current Population Report P60-226 (PDF, 792K)

The original “Uninsured Rates” map (first page) and our version (second page):

Differences in 2-Year Average Uninsured Rates by State Map (PDF, 386K)

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Maps, Visual Explanation

September 16, 2004, 3:31 pm

A Pioneer in Usability Testing

By d/D

While clearly a teaser for the Usability Interface conference, this short interview with Ginny Reddish does contain some insights about usability testing and Web site evaluation:

“When I started out, almost all usability testing was done in a formal lab with a very ‘hands off’ approach to interactions between participant and facilitator. Today, the line between usability testing and field studies has blurred quite a bit. Typically, today, I sit with the participant. Depending on the stage the product is in, I may engage in much more dialogue than I did when I started out. I’ve done usability testing in conference rooms and cubicles; I even did one this summer in an airport hangar.”

http://www.uie.com/events/uiconf/articles/redish_interview/

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Usability

September 16, 2004, 3:29 pm

Skimming or Skipping? How People Read Online

By d/D

Poynter Institute has posted the results of “Eyetrack III,” a study on how people look at news online. While the study is “wide, not deep,” it contains many interesting points that could contribute to the analysis of any content-based Web site. For example:

“Photographs, contrary to what you might expect (and contrary to findings of 1990 Poynter eyetracking research on print newspapers), aren’t typically the entry point to a homepage. Text rules on the PC screen — both in order viewed and in overall time spent looking at it.”

http://www.poynterextra.org/eyetrack2004/main.htm

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Information Architecture, Usability, Web Interface Design