Information Design Watch

July 11, 2005, 1:03 pm

Google “Home Brew”

By d/D

Several of Google’s new Web applications use a mix of Internet techologies referred to as “AJAX.” It’s a jack-of-all-trades approach that combines JavaScript, XML, and Microsoft-built routines for making background server requests. The results are Web pages that respond to user interaction without continual reloading:

“With most sites, when Web users click on words or a picture, the site’s software calls out to a server to pull data, perform a computation, or show an image. With sites developed using Ajax, the browser loads an engine that draws the user interface and performs the requests for information in the background. The result is software like Google Maps, which lets users pan and zoom around a map of the United States and Canada from continent down to street level.”

While Ajax may be excessively ad hoc for traditional application programmers, it could easily be embraced by Web designers who are already immersed in their own mixed-up world of markup languages, style sheets, and scripting languages.

http://www.informationweek.com/shared/printableArticle.jhtml?articleID=165600304

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Comments (0) | Filed under: Implementation

July 11, 2005, 1:00 pm

Now You CAN be the Center of the Universe

By d/D

Within reason, of course. The Personal World Map Flash application lets you pick a starting point, then see the bounds of the world in terms of time and budget. The two are not the same:

“The main purpose of the Personal World Map is to give awareness of the user’s actual position in the world in relation to other places by taking into account the ‘effort’ needed to get to a certain destination. Because the Personal World Map is based on flight data, this effort is defined not only by time (travel time) but also by money (ticket fares).”

The quote above is from the “About” page linked at the bottom of the application. For developers, the “Data” and “Details” pages (linked from the “About” page menu) offer a nice overview of how the application is built.

http://www.personalworldmap.org/

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

July 11, 2005, 12:44 pm

Just Like Google, Right? Right.

By d/D

According to Jakob Nielsen, Internet users have developed pretty firm ideas about what “Search” is and how it works:

“In our experience, when users see a fat ‘Search’ button, they’re likely to frantically look for ‘the box where I type my words.’ The mental model is so strong that the label ‘Search’ equals keyword searching, not other types of search.”

What this means is that alternate search methodologies (parametric searches, for example) need to be presented within a strong supporting context, including, perhaps, the complete avoidance of the word “Search.”

http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20050509.html

An earlier article by Nielsen on search usability reinforces his current findings (and is worth reading in full for other guidelines):

“Users often move fast and furiously when they’re looking for search. As we’ve seen in recent studies, they typically scan the home page looking for ‘the little box where I can type’.”

http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20010513.html

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