Free Web Page Greeking Tool

More interesting stuff from blog-favourite William Hudson this morning. He's promoting a free 'Greeking' tool to allow usability experts to view a page with the text replaced with gibberish. The value of this is explained by Jakob in an article 'Testing Whether Web Page Templates are Helpful'.

The premise is simple, is it the page structure and layout that informs the interaction, or the content?

There are some limitations to William's site/tool, it only understands HTML (so no scripting) and all the links lead back to, predictably, www.greekthis.com.

If you find this tool useful,
let him know and leave a comment below.

Ipswich Waterfront: Live Demolition Webcam

Following my post yesterday about the progress of demolition on the waterfront in Ipswich I have come across a live webcam showing the work taking place. This webcam is supported by the Suffolk Development Agency and local paper, The Evening Star.

Having been shown some great timelapse webcam images from a New York blizzard, the Ipswich webcam's timelapse shots seem a little lame. I guess it needs more frames. There are two at the moment: A twenty-four hours version and a seven-day version.

Technorati Tag :


Sweat Resistant Sporty Headphones from Sennheiser

Shiny Shiny (tech/gadget site aimed at girls) reports a new range of sports-specific headphones released by Sennheiser. Given that my much loved PX 100 pair are suffered from over-use at the gym I'd be tempted to invest. There's nothing like a quality pair of 'phones to compliment your iPod and when they're as practical as they are audiologically impressive then it seems like a bit of a no-brainer to me.

HUH Corp: Change Consultancy Is Nonsense

A mildly amusing parody of change consultancy is viewable at HUH Corp.

Ipswich Waterfront Demolition Nearing Completion

They started work on pulling down one of the last giant grain silos on the waterfront yesterday. The scaffold's been up for some time to protect the Customs House and the wet dock itself but it was yesterday that the concrete jaws of the 777 demolition machines weighed in.

Last night there was masses of concrete dust swirling around (hope all the asbestos has gone) despite their best attempts with hoses. Not much time left now for these 1950's industrial relics. Still, only a short time to enjoy the expanded view as well. The Evening Star reports that the replacement will be an equally high residential tower.

Further along the quay the work seems pretty much complete (on schedule) for Whafside
Regeneration's Mill project. The website 'Live At The Mill' is still just a duff coverpage so I wouldn't bother checking in. This seems a bit odd given that London design agency ico design plastered 3.5m pink letters for the URL on the side of the building.

I took the picture above on 22nd March nicely capturing a spring sunset on my walk home.

Technorati Tag :

I’m growing chillies this year.

Have been furiously growing chillies this year much like other bloggers. It all started when I got involved in a competition at work last year and managed to get a few Jalapenos out of it. This year I roped in a few colleagues and our office is now adorned with a fine display of foliage in various stages of maturity. If I remember (sets himself up) I might post a few pics as the season progresses.


Honda’s Online Customer Experience: Does It Match Their Appealing Adverts?

Recently William Hudson of Syntagm set at challenge to find out the CO2 figure for the Honda Civic Hybrid:

· Go to
· Note the time
· Find the CO2 emission figure (important for UK tax purposes) for the Hybrid version of the Honda Civic (correct answer is 109)
· Jot down the time it took you and your satisfaction with the experience of finding this (0 = not at all, 5 = very)
· Send them …

This isn’t a pointless task, the CO2 figure for this car is important as it relates to UK tax breaks and is the reason as to why the car is exempt from the London congestion charge.

The results of this brief ‘study’ were worrying: “The average amount of time spent on the task was 7.2 minutes (ranging from 2.5 to 20). Only half of respondents found the information at all. Many respondents who failed did not specify a satisfaction with the experience, but this was taken as 0 (not at all satisfied). Mean satisfaction was 0.7 (median 0 = not at all satisfied).”

I’d concur with William’s suppositon that most customers probably get hold of a brochure – either by visiting a showroom or downloading it. What’s worrying is that a Google search for it works – but doesn’t pick up the Honda site.

The correct way of finding this information is:

· Click on "cars" at the top of the home page (http://www.honda.co.uk).
· Wait for the intro to finish (the one with the cards driving around) or press "Skip" when it eventually appears.
· Click on the image of the Civic.
· Click on the Civic again (or wait until the new animation finishes).
· A button appears on the right of the screen labelled "Build your Civic".
· Click on that and wait for the screen to load.
· Click on the specification tab.
· Scroll down the left panel to Fuel Economy. CO2 is the last figure shown.


Miss Reef 2006

Seems a long time ago since Cornish girl Claire Newby won the Miss Reef competition on Fistral Beach in 2004. She wasn't a bad looking girl (though runners up Claire Platt and Donna Bevan would have got my vote).

It's been a long cold winter here in the UK but fortunately the interweb can now reveal who won the Miss Reef competition 2006. I'm not sure frankly who did but I did enjoy making my own judgement on the proceedings.

:: The Flickr group of pictures for Miss Reef 2006
:: The awesome
PBase gallery of proceedings in Chile.
:: The photo report on
Surfers Village.
:: A piece on
Heavy Promotion with some more galleries.

Gerry McGovern on Web Navigation: Show people their route to goal, not their route to everywhere.

I’m not always a fan of Gerry’s weekly mailouts. Occasionally they over simplify concepts and in so-doing contribute little more to the gentle evangelism of usability than a few extra Kb in your inbox. However, in his mailout on 2nd April he touched on the subject of navigation, something I like to immerse myself in every so often. Back in 2002 I commented (rather naively) on the next big things in data visualisation, specifically the decision tree/organic nodal navigation model. We’ve not really got there yet and Gerry’s comment raises interesting questions about what we should be showing the customer during their route through our site.

The basic premise is that we should support movement forwards – goal-orientated – rather than supporting every possible route. To use an analogy that Gerry proposed, when driving from London to Maidstone would you want to know at every junction where you could visit and that if you wanted you could still u-turn back to London? No, not really – you just want to know how to get to Maidstone. On the web we can actually change the signposts on the way. We can suppress the superfluous navigation having made some informed decisions about where you want to go. So, for example, if you visit a bank site from an aggregator where you were looking at the best deal on loans, why would you want to see links on that bank’s site about insurance or savings accounts? Keep these to a minimum (ie. A simple ‘home’ link) and support the loan application process first an foremost.

“Good web navigation design is not about giving people lots and lots of choices.” – Gerry McGovern.

There’s a corollary to this too (which Gerry doesn’t mention, so kudos to me!) which is that our short-term memory is considered to be around 7 (±2) [
Miller, 1952] so having long choice-ridden menus is actually a hindrance to those people using screen readers and a cognitive burden to those of us that don’t who have to re-read long lists to mitigate the effects of recency [Davelaar et al., 2005]. Of course, there is a danger that changing the navigational structure during the user-journey could leave the participant open to change blindness [see a retrospective by William Hudson] which could lead to frustration and disorientation if users are expecting a consistency in their navigation options. And herein lies the problem. What model do the majority of users follow, do they (we) expect some level of global navigation to remain constant but would nevertheless appreciate a context-specific layer too? I think Gerry (and to that end Jakob too) may have too much faith in the power of the back button!

Another thing that Gerry’s short piece does state which to my mind is unequivocable is that clutter is destructive and that adding links simply adds (eventually bewildering) choice. Impacting the power of every other link on that page, on the web after a point, adding becomes the equivalent to subtracting from the user experience. Understaning where that point is becomes a worthwhile challenge for interaction designers.

[As a consequence, I’ll reduce my contextual linking in these blog items – don’t want you to have too much choice as to where to go next!]

[Another aside, a
piece on the Usability of IVR systems which mentions some tips for improving the short-term memory retention, presumably by deeper processing and thence transferring this to the long-term store.]