Sunday, September 19, 2004

Out-of-office message

I am on holiday in the Unites States of America, trying to combine pleasure with business. Have you ever made an agenda for your holiday, with multiple entries for each day?

Peter Merholz, from Adaptive Path, has taken us on a historic walking tour of the city of San Francisco this morning where we ran into Molly Steenson whom I'll also see at Design Engaged. It took me a while before I realizes that San Francisco is about as big as Amsterdam and it is not freaky.

If you read some Dutch (or just want to laugh at it) or want to see some pictures (or just want to laugh at them), have a look at the weblog Marijke and I are trying to maintain, to my parents' surprise.

Vakantie! is Dutch for holiday.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Good, that is off the list of ToDo's

On my trip to the States I'll also spend almost 2 weeks in San Francisco. I prefer to use local public transport systems to get around, but this is overdoing it:

A marathon weekend on S.F. Muni / Riding every route is a 3-day endeavor

"It was Maas, a cinema student at San Francisco State University, who first came up with the revolutionary idea."

Make that "stupid idea".

e-Government and user centered design

In my list of subjects to write about, I forgot one aspect. This aspect applies to all subjects (UCD methods, deliverables, etc.) and changes it slightly. It is:


e-Government, and especially the Government-to-Citizen (G2C) part of it, helps citizens be good citizens by informing them about their duties and opportunities, helps them find out how much they need to pay the government and even helps them pay their taxes.

It is what I do for a living now: As Senior Information Architect with EzGov I design e-Government transactional web applications that help government transform the way they do business (see:

Designing for this market is three steps up from your garden-variety user centered design:
  1. often it's about web applications; suddenly there's a lot more functionality that needs to be designed, implemented and explained to the user than in, say, a brochure website, or an e-zine's archive. A consistent user interface style, help system and multi-page, wizard style interactions will need to be designed.

  2. it's about transactions; there is confidential information that gets entered, transformed, transported and displayed back to the user. Elements of trust, security and confidentiality come into play. These elements need to be reflected in the interface.

  3. it's for everyone! Any citizen could decide to file their taxes online, walk up to the internet kiosk in her local library and expect to be served without any previous training with the system. In some cases we can determine a better defined target group, for example where we design for employers or even tax agents, but more often than no we have to design our applications to be used by everyone. Again, a consistent ui-style and help is important, but also extra support for both novices and expert users can make our lives easier.

It would be interesting to see if other markets, for example the online banking and insurance industry, have come up with user centered design methodologies and deliverables that are tailored towards transactional web applications. Do they have a "trust style guide"? Or a "transaction diagram tool"? Or...?

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Norwegians want to travel on Sept 11, and so do I.

Norwegian want to travel on Sept 11 and I plan to do the same: flying to New York for 3 weeks of vacation: NY (sept 11 -14), SF (sept 14 - 25), NY (sept 25 - oct 4). Hope to be able to arrange a few meetings with IA/UX folks.

User Centered Design, my definition

To give you an idea of what my frame of reference is when it comes to User Centered Design, below is my definition. I compiled it from several sources, mixing & matching, and now consider it mine.

The User Experience (UX) encompasses all aspects of the end-user's interaction with a company, its services, and its products.

It combines aspects of:
  • marketing & communication

  • brand design

  • visual design

  • information architecture

  • interaction design

  • copy & technical writing

  • usability engineering

  • software engineering

  • customer relationship management

The ideal user experience allows users to:
  • explore engaging products and services designed for them specifically;
  • use their vocabulary, and accommodate their expectations;
  • adapt the products and services to their preferences;
  • rely on other media channels for support;
  • while making use of previous experience with the company's service.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Speaking of numero uno...

Im am trying out "hello", a tool that helps me upload pictures and apparently integrates with Blogger. Above is a picture of me and Marijke in Venice, on the San Marco square.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Oh, and since I am in control...

In the previous list of subjects I forgot one. Numero uno. Me.

Friday, September 03, 2004

It works. Now: What to write about?

I started this blog for 3 reasons:

  1. I wanted to know how easy it would be to set up a blog
  2. It's the way to go in 2004 (or was that 2003?)
  3. I have questions about Information Architecture (IA), User Experience (UE) and User Centered Design (UCD)
(If this was a multiple choice question, you know the rule about the longest answer always being the right one, don't you?)

Number 1 and 2 won't help me come up with a lot of content. Okay, maybe once or twice a year (like this entry and the previous one, and when I change some settings or pick another template) unless I combine the subjects with number 3.

So, it's number 3, IA, UE and UCD, that I will be writing about. I guess it will be just me doing the writing at first, with maybe a friend or two (hi there!) commenting, until I feel confident enough to announce it publicly. That might take a while...

If only for my own memory, I'll start with a list of topics that I am interested in, in no particular order:
  • UCD methods and processes
  • UCD deliverables
  • user experience requirements
  • web applications
  • Big Information Architecture

(Sorry if you came here via a search engine, looking for information about one of the the above subjects. There isn't anything here yet, but the idea is that that will change. Go and check a recent posting!)

So, that is what you can expect. I hope you like it. Let me know :-)