Web headings

According to a Nielsen-study (2009), the first two words in a Web headline have a huge impact on whether or not people will click on a link.

    The best links in the study:

  • Used plain language
  • Were specific and clear
  • Used common words
  • Started with the essence of the message
  • Were action-oriented
    The worst links in the study:

  • Used bland, generic words
  • Used made-up words or terms
  • Started with after-dinner-speech-introduction language

Gerry McGovern: Writing Killer Web Headings and Links

Repertory Grid

“The Repertory Grid method has a number of benefits for user experience research and design evaluation. Repertory Grid studies

  • quickly generate a large number of attributes, or constructs, that are useful in comparing different examples
  • elicit differentiating attributes in the participants’ vocabulary rather than the researcher’s vocabulary
  • identify constructs that are important to the participants rather than the researcher
  • provide a structured process for eliciting feedback that is easy for participants to understand”

“The Repertory Grid is a data extraction and analysis technique that has as its basis the Personal Construct Theory, which George Kelly developed in the 1950s. The central theme of the Personal Construct Theory is that people organize their experiences with the world into conceptual classifications that we can differentiate and describe using attributes of those classifications called constructs. Often, these constructs manifest themselves as polar opposites on a scale, so we can easily classify the elements of our world. For example, based on our experiences with people, we know that some are shy and others are outgoing. When we meet new people, we may consciously or subconsciously categorize them according to that construct.

An important element of the Personal Construct Theory is that each individual has his or her own unique set of constructs that are important to that person. Taking my example further, whether a new person is shy or outgoing might not be important to you in your categorization scheme, but it might be very important to someone else. George Kelly hypothesized that people are constantly challenging and growing their construct systems, but those systems remain unique to the individual, and the sum of each person’s experiences shapes them. In addition, the differences in people’s construct systems contribute to our different perceptions of the world and our behavior in it.”

From Michael Hawley: The Repertory Grid: Eliciting User Experience Comparisons in the Customer’s Voice

Competitive Review Visualisation

“User research is one component of business intelligence that can help us develop a sense of empathy for the users for whom we’re designing a solution. However, a design will not be successful if it does not also meet business goals. One business goal is to differentiate your offering within the competitive landscape. I’ve found the approach to doing competitive reviews I’ve outlined in this column to be very helpful in achieving that goal. This method helps me see opportunities for new activities, new approaches to tasks, alternative presentation styles, and features that can differentiate my design.”

  1. Identify the salient dimensions that distinguish competitors in a competitive space.
  2. Plot the defining dimensions in a diagram.
  3. Score the selected competitor sites along the various dimensions and plot them visually.
  4. Compare the diagrams for different competitor solutions and identify the gaps.
Comparing competitors along different axes
Comparing competitors along different axes

Michael Hawley: Differentiating Your Design: A Visual Approach to Competitive Reviews

IA/UX: Making stuff meaningful

    My job is making applications and Web sites meaningful (wow, big word). How does that work?

  • Thinking relevance. I ensure that functionality and content is relevant to what users actually want or is in the scope of what they might want.
  • Thinking logic. I develop a structure that is consistent but does not exclude users with a different view on the content’s organisation.
  • Thinking culture. I explore shared values, ideas, and activities of users in order to create a meaningful digital environment.
  • Thinking narrative. Every product wants to tell a story. I apply that story to the structure, the navigation journeys, and the placement of contextual information.

Relationship Symmetry in Social Software

In general, there are two ways to model human relationships in software. An “asymmetric” model is how Twitter currently works. You can “follow” someone else without them following you back. It’s a one-way relationship that may or may not be mutual.
Facebook, on the other hand, has always used a “symmetric” model, where each time you add someone as a friend they have to add you as a friend as well. This is a two-way relationship, and it is required to have any relationship at all. So as a Facebook user there is always a 1-1 relationship among your friends. Everyone who you have claimed as a friend has also claimed you as a friend.

Joshua Porter