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Showing posts from March, 2017

Rodent Controls

So I wasn't intending to blog again about The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman but last night I was reading the final few pages and got to a section titled Easy Looking is Not Necessarily Easy to Use. From that: How many controls does a device need? The fewer the controls the easier it looks to use and the easier it is to find the relevant controls. As the number of controls increases, specific controls can be tailored for specific functions. The device may look more and more complex but will be easier to use.   We studied this relationship in our laboratory ... We found that  to make something easy to use, match the number of controls to the number of functions and organize the panels according to function. To make something look like it is easy, minimize the number of controls. How can these conflicting requirements be met simultaneously? Hide the controls not being used at the moment. By using a panel on which only the relevant controls are visible, you minimi

Can You Afford Me?

I'm reading The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman on the recommendation of the Dev manager , and borrowed from our UX specialist . (I have great team mates.) There's much to like in this book, including a taxonomy of error types: at the top level this distinguishes slips from mistakes. Slips are unconscious and generally due to dedicating insufficient attention to a task that is well-known and practised. Mistakes are conscious and reflect factors such as bad decision-making, bias, or disregard of evidence. discussion of affordances: an affordance is the possibility of an action that something provides, and that is perceived by the user of that thing . An affordance of a chair is that you can stand on it. The chair affords (in some sense is for ) supporting, and standing on it utilises that support. focus on mappings: the idea that the layout and appearance of the functional elements significantly impacts on how a user relates them to their outcome. For examp

A Field of My Stone

The Fieldstone Method is Jerry Weinberg's way of gathering material to write about, using that material effectively, and using the time spent working the material efficiently. Although I've read much of Weinberg's work I'd never got round to Weinberg on Writing until last month, and after several prompts from one of my colleagues. In the book, Weinberg describes his process in terms of an extended analogy between writing and building dry stone walls which - to do it no justice at all - goes something like this: Do not wait until you start writing to start thinking about writing. Gather your stones (interesting thoughts, suggestions, stories, pictures, quotes, connections, ideas) as you come across them.  Always have multiple projects on the go at once.  Maintain a pile of stones (a list of your gathered ideas) that you think will suit each project. As you gather a stone, drop it onto the most suitable pile. Also maintain a pile for stones you find attracti

Well, That was a Bad Idea

I was listening to Giselle Aldridge and Paul Merrill on the Reflection as a Service podcast one morning this week as I walked to work. They were talking about ideas in entrepreneurship, assessing their value, when and how and with who they should be discussed, and how to protect them when you do open them up to others' scrutiny. I was thinking, while listening, that as an entrepreneur you need to be able to filter the ideas in front of you, seeking to find one that has a prospect of returning sufficiently well on an investment. Sometimes, you'll have none that fit the bill and so, in some sense, they are bad ideas (for you, at that time, for the opportunity you had in mind, at least). In that situation one approach is to junk what you have and look for new ideas.  But an alternative is to make a bad idea better. I was speculating, as I was thinking, and listening, that there might be heuristics for turning those bad ideas into good ideas. So I went looking, and I foun

commit -m "My idea is ..."

One of the many things I've learned over the years is that (for me) getting an idea out - on paper, on screen, on a whiteboard, into the air; in words , or pictures, or verbally, ... - is a strong heuristic for making it testable, for helping me to understand it, and for provoking new ideas. Once out, and once I've forced myself to represent the idea in prose or some other kind of model , I usually find that I've teased out detail in some areas that were previously woolly. I can begin to challenge the idea, to see patterns and gaps between it and the other ideas, to search the space around it and see further ideas, perhaps better ideas. Once out, I feel like I have freed up some brain room for more thoughts. I don't have to maintain the cloud of things that the idea was when it was only in mind and I was repeatedly running over it to keep it alive, to remember it. Once out, once I've nailed it down that first time, I have a better idea of how to explain it

Works For Me

There's a tester position open  at Linguamatics just now and, as I've said before  on here, this usually means a period of reflection for me. On this occasion the opening was created by someone leaving - I'm pleased to say that it was on good terms, for a really exciting opportunity, a chance to really make a difference at the new place - and so, although I wasn't looking for change, it has arrived. Again. Change. There was a time when, for me, change was also challenge. Given the choice of change or not, I would tend to prefer not. These days I like to think I'm more pragmatic. Change comes with potential costs and benefits. The skill is in taking on those changes that return the right benefits at the right costs. When change is not a choice the skill is still in trading benefits and costs, but now of the ways you can think of to implement the change. Change. My team has changed a lot in the last twelve months or so. We grew rapidly and also changed our s