Insights

Insights

Insights on innovation. We look at innovation wherever it comes from… startups, corporations and independent inventors. Our articles examine all angles of innovation, from concept to development to go-to-market, growth and scaling. We draw insights on how to apply learnings to your own organization and occasionally share things that Boom Factor has been working on as well. Hope you enjoy and hope to hear from you as well

Insights on innovation. We look at innovation wherever it comes from… startups, corporations and independent inventors. Our articles examine all angles of innovation, from concept to development to go-to-market, growth and scaling. We draw insights on how to apply learnings to your own organization and occasionally share things that Boom Factor has been working on as well. Hope you enjoy and hope to hear from you as well!

Structuring Flow of Add-and-Remove List Boxes
Recently, the BayCHI mailing list had an interesting discussion regarding a very common input mechanism with which many of us have grown accustomed: selecting from a group of available items and adding to a congruent set of chosen items. The polemical issue that arises with this selection tool is in its implementation, specifically “should we collect items from left-to-right or from right-to-left?” The easy answer that many will throw out is that for the Western world, we read from left to right and therefore this is the correct way to present it for us Westerners. True, but there is more
Keeping It in Context Part Deux: Contextual Help
In the first installment of this series, we examined how we can enhance search tools by allowing users to set the context of searches. In this article we will examine another key feature that aids users in completing a task within a site: the help link. Particularly, we will examine providing contextual help globally on sites: allowing users to access information pertaining to the specific task at hand. Contextual help is an integrated means of accessing supplementary information and instructions about a feature or content. Common manifestations of contextual help are: “What’s this?” or “help?” or “” links located near
User Experience Design + Web Design + Development
The fields of user experience design, web design, and web development are often at odds with each other. This leads to web sites that are just shadows of their potential, and costs their owners a lot of foregone or lost revenue. Every decision that we make and execute has a real financial consequence, and friction leads to waste.
Marissa Mayer of Google: Speed Good, AJAX Not So Good
John Battelle reported Thursday on Marissa Mayer’s talk at the Web 2.0 conference held in San Francisco this week. Mayer shared some very fascinating findings regarding the usability and user experience design of Google’s search results pages. In short, the study found that users preferred speedy page loads to a greater number of results per page and to “highly interactive ajax features”. Although users reported that they preferred more results per page, their expressed desires diverged from their actual interactions. Google’s analysts found that search results pages with 30 results per page rather than the standard 10 per page resulted
Web Site Users as Patrons
At Boom Factor, we often think of ‘users’ as ‘patrons’ to stress the fact that users of most web sites are either active or prospective customers or contribute to the web site’s financial state in some way. It is critical to acknowledge this fact, because unlike users of desktop applications or physical products, web site users tend to be more immediately tied to revenue and costs, and as such, optimizing web sites means much more than making them usable; it also means increasing their value through optimizing things such as marketing strategy, acquisition and retention rates, and user participation as
Researching Concepts with Comics According to Mark Wehner, Yahoo! Inc.
Two weeks ago, I attended a talk given by Mark Wehner of Yahoo! Inc. at a BayCHI event in Mountain View. At first glance many may balk at the idea of conducting research through mere drawings, but having heard and seen the impact this tool can make, I am now a huge enthusiast for this exploratory process. I am writing this article in the hopes that more companies and user experience designers investigate this technique to see how it can enhance their own product research. This article summarizes the key concepts behind researching with comics as presented in the talk
Google Web Optimizer Launches
On Wednesday Google unveiled a brilliant new tool, the Web Optimizer, at this year’s E-Metrics Summit. It puts the power of multivariate testing on an array of web metrics in an elegant and simple-to-use online tool. What was once a tedious process involving capturing web statistics, downloading log files, importing them in a statistics package, and performing complicated regression analysis has now been made simpler. Users will be able to more easily test multiple versions of a page and the effectiveness of individual elements on those pages to determine which combinations result in the highest conversions.
What Is User Experience Design
User experience design can sometimes be a slippery term. With all the other often used terms that float around in its realm in the technology and web space: interaction design, information architecture, human computer interaction, human factors engineering, usability, and user interface design. People often end up asking “what is the difference between all these fields and which one do I need?” This article examines the term and field of user experience to plainly extrapolate its meaning and connect the dots with these other fields.
Forget Minimalist Web Design: Cluttered Pages Aren’t that Bad
Some time ago iVillage commissioned Dynamic Logic to study the effect of page clutter on the effectiveness of advertising on the iVillage web site. The study strove to discern what effect, if any, ‘online clutter’ (defined as the number of text, image, and advertising elements on a page) had on the brand value score (aggregate of the purchase intent generated, brand favorability, brand awareness, message association, and brand attributes) of the actual on-page advertising. The research was developed and carried out by Dynamic Logic, OgilvyOne, and Jupiter Media Metrix. While some of the results from the study were expected, many
Aesthetic Web Design Hates Empirical Analysis
There seems to be a great riff these days between design and analysis. Usually the argument from the aestheticians seems to be self-preserving rather than logical. In many ill-conceived articles and posts, these authors even go so far as to question the scientific method and the unequivocally powerful field of statistical inference. To me, these arguments are plain provincial. On the other hand, the analytically inclined camp also fails to appreciate the potential and relevance of informed graphic design. Most websites are meant to create revenue for the owner, whether directly through sales or indirectly through product promotion and brand
The Contextual GUI
Computerworld.com published an article yesterday about the coming and recent changes in graphical user interfaces by Robert Mitchell. The article highlights advancements which are meant to simplify the user experience based on context, whether it be technological (device used) or operational (item selected). Such advancements include voice commands for mobile devices such as PDA’s, customized layouts for different screen sizes, and menus which change based on the item being edited. The latter, most notably comes from Microsoft’s own Office applications which are renown for their feature-richness and consequently overloaded menu items. As Mitchell reports, the traditional drop-down menus will be
Designing Web Sites for Market Segments
One of the most pervasive design shortcomings of web sites is neglecting entire market segments–a mistake that can have very costly consequences. This article provides the basis for an effective method to correct this and improve overall conversions. Principal Market Segmentation for Web Sites There are many different ways to divide a company’s market into segments; the most effective partitioning for web site design hinges on the conversion likelihood of the prospective customers. It is a matrix of a user’s commitment to buy a product or service and that user’s perception of the company selling that product or service.
Keeping It in Context – Part I: Categorical Search
Much has been written about the correct placement and style for effectively integrating search on a site, yet a fundamental issue with such search remains: the results are too broad and are difficult to sift through. Alleviating this problem is a simple case of letting the user put their search query into context. That is, if we provide a mechanism for letting the user search within specific categories, the probability of that user finding information pertaining to their interests is greatly increased. This mechanism is what I refer to as “categorical search.” Categorical search is by no means a new
Why Hire a User Experience Architect before a Web Developer
When starting a web development project, there are many advantages to hiring a user experience architect first. The most important of these are: to ensure a usable product that matches the goals of your company to obtain a definitions guide which can protect against scope creep, synchronize efforts and protect against costly revisions to acquire accurate estimates for project development by providing detailed and unambiguous specifications Ensure a usable product that matches the goals of your company and reduces support costs By hiring a web developer first, the process of refining features to address the users’ and company’s goals can
Multiple Access Points – MAP
Information architectures and accompanying sitemaps often illustrate page relations with single channels linking them. These architectures are sub-optimal because they do not take advantage of the principle of multiple varied access points to key destinations which can increase the traffic flow to said goals. Providing multiple and varied pathways to key destinations is a fundamental tenant of both urban planning and building architecture, and thinking of its application in those fields can shed light on this principle’s vast potential in website architecture.