THE FUTURE IS NOW
Hack The World
|Thursday, May 16, 2002
Neilsen's Top-10 Guidelines for Homepage Usability are an interesting starting point. But, don't think the battle is over because you have met a couple of graphic design rules. Usability is really a market targeting and segmentation exercise. The question is not "is this website usable for everyone?" Rather it is "is this material usable for my audience in the way that they want to use it?" That means that usability begins with the question "Who is my audience?"
While the high profile blogs and websites can afford to use guidelines about usability that apply to everybody, the challenge is more severe when communicating with a small group.
Many of the general principles of usability break down when applied to niche communications. When audience motivation is high, the idiosynchracies of a small author/publisher are endearing and actually facillitate usability. The exact same approach fails at 'scale'.
So, the next most important usability question is "How large is my audience?" followed immediately by "How motivated are they to consume my stuff?" Related Info?.
It's exactly why techies don't fare well as marketers. The single most obvious flaw in Weblog design is that the full newsfeed (the home page) is seen as the most important component of the game. It certainly makes infinitely more sense for the full xml feed to be hidden so that readers pick form categories.
When I tell new readers about the 'blog', I inevitably send them to the root level of the folder. "Here's the blog at http://xxx.xxx.xxx". Truth is that they wouild be better served by being given a category as a target destination. I'd love to hide the full flow and have an ongoing dialog (comments about categories) about how to tailor the delivery into sub categories.
While the full newsfeed is the technical wonder, the utility is in the categorization. (Readers, in the "Channels" section are a number of categories; this entire -and obviously burdensome - flow of news is parceled into subgroups of material by category. It happens as a part of the publishing process) Related Info?.
Data dyspepsia blights the workforce. One of the biggest challenges facing an organisation today is filtering the good from the bad information. It's the classic signal/noise equation. We all like to get the right signals--and all hate the noise. But for each and every employee these are highly debatable categories. Gartner found, quite surprisingly, that the most useful information employees receive comes from personal networks, contact with friends and colleagues, and emails--rather than the finely tuned information source that is supposed to be the Intranet. But how do you manage that? The other option is some kind of sophisticated knowledge management solution--but no one has even figured out what this is yet so don't expect that one to solve your woes. [The Register]
John Robb notes: The solution isn't a sophisticated KM solution, it is K-Logs. A well authored K-Log provides a filtered knowledge stream based on the Intranet. It is simple, elegant, and leverages the Intranet -- the perfect way to improve the signal to noise ratio.
Klogs are the way that blogs can be applied behind the firewall as information management pools. The arena is in its easrly stages and worth investigating. There is an ongoing conversation at Yahoo that you can join. (see the future is now). Related Info?.
The recently departed CEO of the recently deceased RealNames, Keith Teare managed his departure using a blog. From nowhere to the top of the popularity charts, his blog demonstrated the utility of riding the blog PR craze. Related Info?.
Robb takes a long look at The Economist's view of productivity. It's possible, we suppose, that rapidly expanding productivity is an answer, of sorts, to the labor shortage. Certainly, in a macro perspective, freeeing up white collar labor will make it possible to replace all of the truck drivers.
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