EppsNet Archive: Web Development

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HealthCare.gov’s Account Setup: 10 Broken Usability Guidelines McKayla Maroney Was Doing The “Not Impressed” Face At Age 8 Most Popular Paintings & Photos From Getty’s Online Art Collection The Tweeting Bra Versus Breast Cancer Read more →

HTML5 Date Tag

I learned something interesting about the HTML5 date tag. Look at this calendar dropdown: Here is the sum total of code needed to make that happen in a Chrome browser: That’s it! No Javascript, no CSS. Programmers these days have it easy. Read more →

How to Lose Your Job : A Fictional Memoir (Part I)

Because of the huge productivity differences between good programmers and bad programmers — 10x? 28x? More? — my biggest leverage point as a development manager is my ability to hire people. At my last job, we had an HR Director named Lucy. In every one of our annual Employee Satisfaction Surveys, Lucy’s group had the lowest scores in the entire organization. Nobody liked or respected her. She was, however, close with the CEO, which made that irrelevant. Lucy’s friend Kathy Slauson runs the Slauson and Slauson recruiting agency, so that’s where we got our programming candidates, who were mostly terrible. The Slauson agency doesn’t specialize in IT candidates, although they do have a “technical recruiter,” who unfortunately knows nothing about technology. They don’t bring candidates in for in-person interviews. They take whatever candidates give them in the form of a résumé and they pass the résumés along to clients like… Read more →

Mobile Site vs. Full Site

From Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox: The basic ideas are to: cut features cut content enlarge interface elements Read more →

3 Laws of Usability

Don’t make me think! It doesn’t matter how many times I have to click, as long as each click is a mindless, unambiguous choice. Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what’s left. — Steve Krug, Don’t Make Me Think Read more →

Why In-Page Navigation Links Matter More Than Menus

Before you spend hours debating with your colleagues and clients on how your menus should look, there’s something you should know. Users spend more time with in-page navigation links than they do with menus. In fact, some users don’t even look at menus. What users look at is page content. And that’s where they often go to navigate. — UX Movement One firm has experienced this many times with users in their eyetracking research. Read more →

Web Governance: Becoming an Agent of Change

It’s about pointing out risks, shining a light on organizational denial, overcoming resistance, and facilitating constructive discussions about change. . . . We’re facing a stark choice right now: keep whining or start leading. . . . You might be thinking: “There’s no way I can do this. I’m a designer, developer, or copywriter, not an organizational change maker!” But we can do it, and we should. Because nobody else will do it for us, and if nobody deals with the problem, we won’t be able to do great work. — Jonathan Kahn, “Web Governance: Becoming an Agent of Change” Read more →

DogPoopBags.com

“What kind of work do you do?” someone asks you. “I’m a web developer,” you reply. “How interesting! What site do you work on?” “It’s just a small site. You wouldn’t have heard of it.” “Oh I’m on the web a lot. I may have seen it. What’s it called?” In a barely audible voice, halfway between a mumbling cough and a coughing mumble, you say, “DogPoopBags.com.” “Ha ha ha — for a second there I thought you said DogPoopBags.com. I . . . uh . . . oh, sorry.” Read more →

Twitter: 2009-12-13

The Content Strategist as Digital Curator: http://bit.ly/7haS0a # Read more →

Infomaki: An Open Source, Lightweight Usability Testing Tool

Infomaki is an open source “lightweight” usability testing tool developed by the New York Public Library to evaluate new designs for the NYPL.org web site and uncover insights about our patrons. Designed from the ground up to be as respectful of the respondents’ time as possible, it presents respondents with a single question at a time from a pool of active questions. In just over seven months of use, it has fielded over 100,000 responses from over 10,000 respondents. — The Code4Lib Journal – Infomaki: An Open Source, Lightweight Usability Testing Tool Read more →

User Surveys on the Web

Look me in the eye Then tell me that I’m satisfied Hey, are you satisfied? — The Replacements, “Unsatisfied” What is a reasonable target for user satisfaction with a web site? We did a user satisfaction survey last year and found that 14 percent of respondents felt that our web site didn’t measure up to their expectations. This year, we have an incentive goal of reducing that number to 8 percent, not based on evidence that any web site has ever achieved a number that low, but based on the opinion of the company that did the survey that anything over a 10 percent dissatisfaction rating is always bad. Or to flip it around, we’re trying to achieve a 92 percent approval rating. I wish we hadn’t set the bar quite that high. I don’t want to be a pessimist but not only is that considerably higher than, say, Google… Read more →

Things That Pop Up and Poke You in the Eye

We’re discussing whether our organization will use a popup user survey on our web site . . . “I propose doing the survey without the popups,” I say. “That’s why browsers have popup blockers, because people don’t like popups. A popup is like a poke in the eye. I don’t like it when things pop up unexpectedly and poke me in the eye. Whenever that happens, I make sure not to go back to that place anymore.” Unfortunately, no one picks up on the “popped up and poked me in the eye” motif because I was then going to chide them for their junior high school mentality. “I had a teacher who used to say that,” a young woman says. “‘It’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.’” I say, “I used to work with a guy who said, ‘You can’t beat that with a sharp… Read more →

High Failure Rates on the Web

. . . when public website users perform simple Internet tasks, they’re successful two-thirds of the time on average. In other words, users fail 35% of the time . . . Six sigma tolerates no more than 3.4 defects per million manufacturing opportunities; in contrast, the Web generates 350,000 defects per million interaction opportunities. The difference between the two quality levels is a factor of 100,000. — Jakob Nielsen, “Two Sigma: Usability and Six Sigma Quality Assurance” The only reason the Web works at all is that people are flexible and persistent enough to try again when their first attempt fails. The good news, I suppose, is that the opportunity for improvement is virtually limitless. Thus spoke The Programmer. Read more →

After the Gold Rush

Best one-sentence explanation of how the dot-com boom killed professional practice in the software business: Improving operational efficiency is not a priority during gold rushes. — Steve McConnell Read more →

Different Drummers

In high school, I was in the school orchestra. There were no auditions; it was just a class you could sign up for, independent of whether or not you had any musical ability. And when a student with no musical ability signed up for the orchestra, what transpired was something like this: Director: What instrument do you play? Student: I don’t really play an instrument. Director: You’re in the percussion section. There were three or four of us in the percussion section who could actually read music and play it, so it was kind of depressing that it was mainly a backwater where musical illiterates were sent to bang on cowbells . . . I recollected my days as a high-school percussionist today when one of our tech leads — tech leads — pulled up some javadocs and announced that a method we were using was “depreciated.” Now if this… Read more →

ArsDigita, Vita Brevis

I was a big fan of the original vision of this company . . . ArsDigita: From Start-Up to Bust-Up Diary of a Start-Up Goodbye ArsDigita The Dot-com Deadpool: ArsDigita Read more →

Radical Notions Debunked!

The big controversy at the office this week was a “radical” idea offered by one of our developers regarding data collection with a series of web-based forms. The idea was that rather than just pouring the data into a relational database like everyone else does, we’d build up an XML tree, essentially a gigantic (in this case, ~200K) string, and pass that around from form to form. The advantages of this, if I understood correctly, would be to simplify the data model design and eliminate the need for table joins. Of course, it also violates every known rule of efficient data access and ratchets up the processing requirements by several orders of magnitude, but that didn’t stop one of the development managers from throwing his full-fledged support behind it.   I TA’ed undergraduate software engineering classes for a year at USC, and every so often an underclassman would advance some… Read more →

A Bad Review

Resemblance to persons living or dead is statistically probable. Name: Snopes, Flem Title: Software Development Manager Developing Others Flem was not effective in giving team members an opportunity to be successful or to do high-quality work. The project development process was limiting and frustrating. Rating: Did Not Meet Expectations Integrity Good work ethic. Big problem here is that Flem didn’t seem to see how poor project outcomes were a direct result of anything he did or didn’t do. He seemed to feel that he was a victim primarily of bad technology, as well as bad clients, bad luck, bad karma, etc. And while there were some unavoidable setbacks on the project, as there are on any project, Flem didn’t seem to see the human decision points in the process where he could have made a difference. Rating: Met Some Expectations Change Management Flem was slow to react to changing circumstances.… Read more →

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