Saturday, September 29, 2007

Why Users Fail

On Page 132 in the book “Prioritizing Web Usability” by Jakob Nielsen, it talks about the problems users have with websites. I strongly agree with the statement “Search and information architecture are larger factors in task failures” (Neilson 133). The user cannot find what they are looking for when they have trouble navigating the site and trying to find the information. What is your input on this? I really think that websites should just be plain, simple and straight to the point.

My blog

Here is a link to my blog that I am using for ICM 501. It has a lot of related information about technology and the theory of interactive communication. Here is the URL: . Comment to the blog if you would like to. It would be greatly appreciated.

Prioritizing Usability Problems

Reading Nielsen's Ch. 4 was extremely relevant and interesting for me. Currently, I am aiding in the relaunch of our website at work, while also making plans for a 2.0 relaunch for next year. The website we're working on will showcase independent musicians and bands and allow them to directly connect with industry pros in the music business that can help them out, including radio PDs and MDs.

Ever since I got to the company, I've been complaining about the usability of the site and the lack of functionality that it offers to users (when the employees complain about their own site...that's a problem!). Though artists loved it, it had some extremely limiting factors, such as the search function, design, and also lack of content necessary to jump into the program. It's safe to say that this period of relaunch has been a bit overwhelming because A) we didn't create and build the original site and B) there is just so much that needs fixing.

Nielsen actually took a bit of the heat off for me. Not everything can be fixed right out of the box, hence our relaunch and then future drafts for a 2.0. Comparing Nielsen's "Scale of Misery" (pg. 129) to his second pie chart ("Why Users Fail", pg. 132), it's easy to see that a few of the major problems users have cause both simple grief and also failure, pointing to the fact that these problems should be addressed sooner rather than later. Search, findability and Content are all high/relatively high on the same of problems users have.

I can gladly report that these are the aspects of our site that we are jumping on first thing.
We are broadening our search criteria, polishing up all our nav bars, changing out design/color schemes, and also freshening up our FAQs and About page to ensure it has the most up to date info possible. Despite general criticisms of some of Nielsen's findings, I found Ch. 4 to be quite helpful in my current situation.


I love this website. It has all the information a user needs when looking at a website. It has all the new gossip, trends, photos and videos. I think this is a great website to get up to date on the latest entertainment news. The URL is:

Friday, September 28, 2007

Red for Anger

I think Donald Norman put out some interesting points about how something that is attractive may be simpler to use. I never really thought about how my emotions can be influenced by what I see or hear, or really thought to apply that concept to designing. I've always known that certain colors can evoke emotions - CVS employees used to always wear red, but changed over to blue shirts because they thought red provoked anger, though I still get flippant when they take forever to fill a prescription - and that certain sounds or smells can make me cringe, but I never thought that these elements could make carrying out a task easier, at least on the web.

I sort of have to agree that his comments on language and how the sound of a word can make it attractive or unattractive is a bit of a stretch, but I understand what he's getting at. I think if one studies linguistics they may be able to explain the concept better. I would say that if you consider some curse words, do you feel so happy when you hear them, especially that ones that have a hard consonant (I'm thinking of the f and c bombs)? I don't get that warm, fuzzy feeling when I hear them.

Entertainment Weekly

Being a big pop culture fan, I practically live at EW's website (Hooking it into my Google Reader doesn't help me get any work done whatsoever). The layout and design of the site definitely aids me in procrastination. The homepage links the user directly to anything he or she would want. The horizonal nav separates the site from News, Movies, DVD, TV, Music, Books, etc. If you have something in mind, it's super easy to find.

Cover stories and TV Watches (reviews of last night's popular TV shows) can both be found above the fold, to your immediate left, while EW's "Pop Watch" (their blog) is to your immediate right. The center usually displays some sort of commemorative story or photo gallery. Without even scrolling down once, you could spend hours reading the latest news and reviews of your favorite indulgences.

The site in general isn't too fancy. It uses flash and video, but sparingly. The site isn't in your face, but rather, simple and modest at times. It's perfect for casual browsing and also for killing countless hours of time as you sit at your work desk or cubicle.


Web Usability

These two links that I found while googling web usability. Again I have to say; I do not agree too much with Jacob Nielsen's approachings but of course he got some points:)
I know websites that is designed with usability obsession and can feel users like moron. Absolutely, we have to question the usability in every step of production but going too far can create disunity between users and producers. In that point, design approachings should be divided in the beginning of design. Designing a commercial site or a personal portfolio sites have different aims, the picture of your audience should determine the usability level so the question should be; Do Ireally know my audience as a designer?


My apologies for the large amount of spacing in my last post....the preview didn't show it that way. :)


This website is not so well designed. I think it is great that is has announcements and solutions. I think it should be like Apple’s website where it has the new products and products that will coming out on the market. What is your opinion? URL:

Ugly But Useful!

Since we are still talking about the "Attractive Things" article, I thought I should bring up a website that is ugly but I find to be very useful...its Craigs List.

Craigs List is a website that is so horribly designed that new users of the site are overwhelmed when they look at it. Its basically a list of links and when you click you are taken to more links. No cute pictures, no spam, no annoying popup ads...just links. Eventually when you sort through all the links you are taken to an ad (often posted by an individual) of a product, service, etc.

I find this site to be one of the greatest websites around because people can post for free, they don't have to deal with nonsense (the Craigs List creators monitor posts and flag and delete anything that is misplaced, inappropriate, etc.). There may be many people who disagree with me, but you have to try it out and see for yourself.

Craigs List is the one site where you can buy a house, buy a car, get a job, meet a friend, have a one nite stand, find community events (when you are bored with the one nite stand) and more.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I agree with Jess, I love the tabs feature. I like things organized and hate having a million windows open. The thing that I don't agree with Neilsen on is the website that he critiques on p. 79. It's like Imut said in regards to Neilsen, "People aren't stupid". I believe that Neilsen thinks people are stupid or rather the people that he studies have very basic understandings of the web. I visited the site and found it very aesthetically pleasing and very easy to navigate. The eggs are a little over the top, but if we all follow the same exact guidelines when creating a site wouldn't the web get a little boring. I'm not saying that every site should be vastly different, I'm just saying that people like things that are unique, and know the web well enough to adjust to these differences.

One of my favorite sites actually just went through a little change itself. has changed some of its design. Take a look....

Opening New Browser Windows

On page 67 in “Prioritizing Web Usability”, it talks about opening new browser windows. I hate clicking the back button to find the page I was just at. I like the new feature on Internet Explorer or Safari where you can make tabs on the same pages of Internet sites you would like to view more of. I think this makes less of a mess when it comes to how many windows you have open on your computer. “Most fundamentally, they pollute users’ workspaces with more windows then they request, sometimes causing crashes or memory errors” (Nielson 67). This is true because the more windows you have open on your computer, the longer it takes for pages to load and keep up with what you are doing. That is why I love the new feature Internet Explorer or Safari have. Try it out sometime.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


The FIFA website, is really nicely designed. There is a lot going on but if you go there to find a story quickly it is very easy. I have been trying to keep up with the women's world cup in China and I can never watch the games because there is a twelve hour time difference so the site has been keeping me well informed. I really like the video highlights it helps to give me a quick over view of the games and I think that the pictures that go along with the top stories help me to find the exact story I'm looking for. This site is convenient, easy to use (although I do think it is a bit cluttered), and helps to keep me informed. I would like to watch the games but since I can't the fifa site does a nice job allowing me to keep up. I don't necessarily think that Nielsen would like this site but for me it works pretty well.

We all have issues

This week’s reading was very interesting. It was interesting to see the usability issues that users face and how they have improved over time. Although it was clear why most of the issues discussed are considered problems, there were a few that I disagree with. One that I disagree with is “Opening new browser windows.” Although one can see how this can cause problems by going against a user’s expectations, I think it has more advantages than disadvantages. What if you do not want to lose your place at the homepage after you click a link? This is usually the case when you are not sure if that link is the one you want. Many would say that is what the back button is for, but it takes more time to back track than to simply click the tab of a previous browser. Also, what if you want several windows open at the same time. This is the case when you want to refer to several pages at once. It would be rather annoying if you had to back track and click links every time you needed a certain page. Some web sites are successfully dealing with this by giving the user the option to open a new browser or not.

The other usability finding that I disagree with is “design elements that look like advertisements.” Although I understand that studies have shown these to be ineffective, I still believe they can sometimes be useful. This comes from personal experience. “In fact, anything that’s overly large or colorful risks being ignored, particularly if it includes animation” (p. 76). As I mentioned in a previous blog, my favorite web sites are ones with dramatic and colorful design elements. I guess “overly” is the key word here. There can definitely be too much color and too much movement. However, dramatic design elements mixed with simple and straightforward ones can create a nice balance.

It was fascinating, however, to see the changes that designers had to undergo in order to preserve users. Most of these usability issues are ones that affect the time in which users spend or want to spend on each site. It all comes down to convenience and giving the user what he wants when he wants it.

Americas Got Talent

I thought this website was very flashy. I did not like that the video played once I entered this website. It was very distracting. It was good because it has contestant biographies; photo galleries and you got to meet judges. The website was full of information and I think the television viewer will tend to revisit this site to if they miss a week or to keep informed about the show.


When it comes to local sports I used to love viewing and reading through the site for all my philly sports needs the layout was like a newspaper easy to follow and find what I need quickly. However they have made some changes and I dont know how I feel about them...maybe I am just resistant to change but maybe its just too busy for me too...When it comes to all sports I love just dont tell my employer. It is more pleasing to the eye...easier to find what I am looking for and just makes sense...if you are looking for an online sports site that makes sense and doesnt hurt your eyes like I suggest there is a better site out there let me a sports page free agent...

Password hell

Hi Jennifer,

This site might help. They've got all kinds of utilities that are really useful. Many are freeware, quite a few are shareware and you have to pay a small fee. If you're willing to spend ten bucks, though, sometimes you can save yourself a whole lot of aggravation.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

One last thing...

I forgot to mention before the "lockout," Photoshop defaults to RGB (Red Green Blue), which works well for online media. CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, yellow, Black) is the standard for printing services like magazines and other publications...check out pg 43 of our Photoshop Book.

Behold the Beauty of the....

Apple iPhone.

You really can't judge a book by it's cover...rather a Dell Notebook. Norman's piece on aesthetically pleasing technology being easier to use paralleled the Apple iPhone for me. According to Norman this phenomena occurs, because using an attractive device makes a user more content and relaxed, enabling the user to be more focused and perform at a higher level.
Individuals are even opt to overlook slight imperfections as long as the device is easy on the eyes. One reviewer of the mini cooper recommended that since the car was enjoyable it's faults didn't matter (Norman, 2003). The same goes for the iPhone. Customers are willing to switch to AT&T, deal with scratched screens, and not be able to do basic functions like forward a text to own the coveted iPhone, which evokes an emotional sense of pride (Norman, 2007).

Click here to read further on how the Apple iPhone may be a case of technology that has it going on in the looks department, but otherwise falls short.

Finally, I thought the Norman's discussion of the relationship between sounds and meanings on pg. 9-10 to be somewhat of a stretch, does anyone else agree?

I think I am in Password Hell!

Between my myspace account, college e-mail account, work logins, and the various accounts we have had to set up for the graduate now takes me at least 5 tries to log into any account!

Please let me know if there are any websites out there that aim to solve this problem and not just the "Remember Me" box to checkoff! Although I am almost positive that any website like this that exists requires a log in!!!

So I obviously had trouble logging into this account and that is why I haven't blogged for that Prof Callahan deleted my old account...I'm back!

So my first blog was in response to Umut's post about web design. is a great site for web templates. All of the templates are fairly inexpensive, but if you aren't looking to buy it is a great website for ideas on simple, yet effective web design.

Stop Being Boring

I understand what Nielsen is trying to accomplish by telling readers that certain types of media must be either be compressed or not used at all on a site. We need to keep in mind the users whose machines do not possess certain speeds or capabilities. However, I am not totally in agreement with this attitude. It seems to me that by continually resorting to the lowest common design denominator, we are halting the possibility of progress in the field of Web design. If everyone followed the rules laid out by Nielsen, we would have a Web full of extremely usable, but super boring, carbon copy sites. This is not in the best interest of the field because to do this would be to eliminate the presence of competition and ingenuity in content for sites.

Even though a certain content interface may not be the most effective way to get a person directly to where they think they want to be, there is the possibility of pulling users into other unintended parts of sites. If we strive to make all sites purely as tools to find information as quickly as possible, then we will actually be contributing to the problem of short attention spans of users. The more the user expects to find any and all information immediately, the quicker the user will exit the site when they do not find what they are looking for. In essence, by creating sites purely for usability, we are cutting our own windows of time to keep a user’s interest shorter and shorter.

By no means do I purpose to stop the design of sites for this purpose. Obviously we need to continue to let our information sharing techniques develop onward and upward. However, I do disagree with Nielsen that there is a set frame or template that a web designer should use when building. We need to maintain a creative relationship between the designer and the user on some level to keep people interested and demanding more.

Simple Stuff

The techniques of page design that Nielsen illustrates throughout this chapter seem to be very simple and based off of common sense. It is surprising to me the number of websites he is able to draw from that illustrate his points of weak design. Granted, he is pulling from pages constructed a number of years ago when we were all still settling into the Web. However, for any trained designer, it seems like a simple task to assess a layout and say, “this looks too cluttered” or “this is organized poorly”. I would like to find out if the people who designed the sites he is drawing from are designers from the visual arts, or designers versed in the technology and computing. It just seems as though the sites lack a general understanding of aesthetic principles.

Attractive Things Work Better -> A Mind Process

Upon reading the Donald Norman article - Attractive Things Work Better, it is interesting to note the various environmental simulations also affect the way we perceive design. As learned through the movie in class and the previous Don Norman Article - Design as Communication, it is the user that ultimately determines the function based personal decisions and interaction. It is in the Attractive Things Work Better that Don Norman connects the surrounding environmental stimuli to the reaction and interaction that the user experiences.

The most remarkable fact to note about the article is that the design flaws experienced in one culture were once again replicated in a different culture. It is through the behavioral, reflective, and visceral levels of processing that these decisions are made and thus made it possible for the same conclusions. It would be interesting to discover whether or not the same environmental surroundings were in effect for the experiment to produce the similar results. As Don continues in his article, he notes that the brain's processing of the environmental stimuli tends to cause the effects of design creation and interaction.

If the experiment was to be re-done, I think I would like to see the users reactions and interaction with the ATM machines when presented with a variety of environmental stimuli as portrayed in the article. Maybe in some instances, the more complex machine may appear as aesthetically pleasing.

Aesthetics and Usabililty

Here's a great article that I found on the website of SURL (The Software Usability and Research Laboratory) at Wichita State University. It mentions that infamous ATM experiment and describes in detail another study in which college students ranked the aesthetic appeal of four websites and perceived usability of those sites. As you can see in the article, there is a definite correlation between aesthetic appeal and ease of use for each of those sites. I never really thought about these things until I started taking this class. The desire to bring order out of chaos and our attraction to pretty things must be so deeply ingrained that we don't really notice them- it's just second nature. This article also (in my opinion) did a better job explaining why "attractive things work better": to quote the article, "when a website is harmonious, it engages the viewer and creates an inner sense of order, a balance in the visual experience. When something is not harmonious, it becomes either boring or chaotic".

Anyway, here's the article. Hope you find it helpful in some way.

Aesthetics and Usability: A Look at Color and Balance

Old Navy

I was looking for new Fall Clothes and I came upon this website:
It showed me the new latest fashions for sweaters, offered me a ten-dollar off coupon if I purchased seventy-five dollars or more, and it had contests for people who looked at the site. I think this website is geared more toward women then men but offers men, women and baby clothing. I think the viewer of this webpage would revisit this site occasionally since it has great deals plus it offers coupons.

Monday, September 24, 2007


I really was intrigued by this website. It makes me want to come back for more because it has the new iPod on the screen and at the bottom of the screen; there are other products that are available. I think this website is very organized because it has tabs on the top of the page that you can click on that link you to information about the Mac, iPod, iTunes, the iPhone and more. There is also a video and TV ad on the site to view. Check this link out at

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Post #2

I hate to sound redundant since another class member mentioned pop up windows in her post but that's one of the main things that stood out to me in the readings from Chapter 3. Before I purchased my computer, I used to always go to my mom's house to use hers. I was always offended by some of the pop up windows that would appear on the screen. On top of the fact that when I am on the computer, I feel that I have so many things to get done that I don't have time to constantly stop what I am doing to read what the pop up says or make it go away. So when it was time to by my own computer, I made sure to choose the option to block pop ups. Actually as I type this post, I can view how many pop- ups have been blocked.

Netflix vs. Blockbuster

While I continuously browse the Netflix site every day, I'm surprised I didn't think to write about it sooner. There are a ton of great things to say regarding the service (it's quite amazing, by the way), but even more to say about its website. The functionality and ease of usability are amazing. It really is quite idiot-proof to find movies, actors, directors, and more with just a search or a scan. If you add a movie to your queue, they immediately recommend other movies based on your added movie and past ratings. The site never gets confusing and users are never stuck thinking about what to do next. Even the account management side is flawless, making it very easy to change your information, either billing or shipping, so that you can continue searching for more quality DVDs to add to your queue!

After about a year of service with Netflix, I wanted to test out Blockbuster's alternative, Blockbuster Online, so I can see what it was like and compare. I quickly found out that I was quite turned off from the service, not because of the rate of shipping speed or the In-store policies attached (which weren't bad), but because of the website itself. The display of movies was shoddy; the movie information was never easy to read and was quite text-y. There was more black and white than I would've liked, and not enough flash or animation to make it engaging. Even the search function was very "click and load", as the pages didn't seem to change much. Rather, movies simply came up in lists.

One of the main reasons I enjoy the Netflix site is because I can literally get lost in it for 30 minutes at a time. Sometimes, I head over just to bump a movie to the top spot of my queue, but get caught up looking at recommendations, rating other films, or getting lost while I'm clicking away. I find their site not only aesthetically pleasing, but fun to use as well. Blockbuster's site was lacking majorly, and was one of the main reasons I switched back over to Netflix.

This remains a prime example of how one company's website could affect and deter customers and their decision-making. Netflix really won me over in both its service and design, and I know I'll continue being a customer for many years to come. I highly recommend checking it out if you havn't already!

Saturday, September 22, 2007


This website was very eye catching and shows the television viewer what is going on the Fox channel. It has information about the shows available to watch, schedules of show times, you are even able to watch television clips from some shows. They also give a schedule of what will be on. It cannot get any better than this. The URL is:

What Neilsen Might Say about Three Enviro Web Sites

What Neilsen Might Say about Three Enviro Web Sites

After reading Chapter 3 of Prioritizing Web Usability by Jakob Nielsen and Hoa Loranger, I thought it might be interesting to apply some of the usability findings in comparing several web sites of local environmental groups. Neilsen and Loranger’s observations are directed primarily to business managers, but in many cases, their findings apply equally to government and nonprofit sites in which usability plays, if anything, an even more critical role than in commerce. Although government sites rely on tax dollars, their issues must resonate with the public if they are to compete in a meaningful way for government funding. Where nonprofits are concerned, investment in environmental issues is critical to the survival of the organization. From a fund raising perspective, we know that a majority of new donors review an organization’s web site before deciding to provide support.

Two Government Sites

Mindful of Nielsen and Loranger’s observation that “government agencies are often the worst offenders” (p. 81) with regard to the usability problem of Dense and Unscannable Text, I decided to start by reviewing the sites of the Connecticut DEP and the Connecticut Council on Environmental Quality Although the DEP site has a lot of information to organize, it does not feel so much copy-heavy as perhaps link-heavy. The CEQ site, however, requires the viewer to read several ponderous paragraphs to take in what it does. My timing was slightly less than the 1 minute, 49 seconds (p.78) that Neilsen and Loranger say it takes a viewer to decide whether it is worth investing time on the site. Both sites feature links that change color when visited, with the CEQ site offering a different color for the most recently viewed link from previously viewed links.

On the DEP site, the central visual offers a good indication of the range of issues covered by the agency: recreation, wildlife, and resource protection throughout the state. A prominent tagline offers a clear mission statement. New information is usually presented in a new browser window, rather than using the existing window. As Neilsen and Loranger point out, this has the potential to crowd the user’s workspace with more open windows than is necessary or desirable. The home page makes good use of multiple menus. While some of these could be condensed under other broader headings, reducing menu clutter, the plethora of headings is possibly due to each department having its own link, which in such a strongly bureaucratic and hierarchical setting may be a given.

The CEQ site is not visually stimulating, featuring as it does only a small image of a brown report. There is no mission statement or tagline, so the casual observer has to read several ponderous paragraphs to take in what the Council does. My timing to read and understand the copy was slightly less than the 1 minute, 49 seconds (p.78) that Neilsen and Loranger say it takes a viewer to decide whether it is worth investing time on the site. The language is not on an 8th grade level which would make it readily understandable by anyone. The links, however, open in the same browser window, rather than additional windows, keeping workspace clutter to a minimum for the viewer. The group’s main accomplishment lies in the report that they offer, which was easily downloadable and offered in various formats, including a print option by mail. The links were simple, clear and easy to understand.

One Non-Profit Site

For the purposes of comparison, I thought it might be interesting to then consider a non-governmental site. I chose Connecticut Clean Water Action at This site requires an inordinate amount of scrolling to take in the lengthy text, where links could provide a more user-friendly approach. A couple of appealing visuals are buried at the bottom of the scroll. The site is not visually stimulating, featuring as it does one tiny visual in the right-hand corner. Unlike the DEP site, there is no tagline or mission statement to present quick info on what the organization does. There is a description of the group’s history in a text box on the right, which might better have been employed as a “history” link. While the “print” option at the top is straightforward enough, the “email” option is confusing, since the viewer does not know whether the email is directed from the user to the organization or from the user to another user. (Clicking on the email indicates that the latter is the case.) The topics Health, Coastlines and Fisheries look as if they could be links, but they are not. In that regard, the words do not do what the user might expect, violating a convention of bold text prominently displayed above the fold.

Of the three sites, the most successful is the Connecticut DEP site. It conveys what the agency does quickly, is reasonably visually attractive, uses language that anyone can understand, does not require excessive scrolling and, although it features multiple menus, those menus are easy to understand.

Friday, September 21, 2007


When I saw the post about PBS Kids, I thought that this is another website that is very attractive to children and is an example of “Visual Aesthetics”. That website made me think of , which is very organized and has links on the side to make it easier for kids to find what they are looking for, and so they can explore on this website. In the middle of the page, it has pictures of games and shows for children to explore and play. I think this website is very attractive because it has bright colors and lots of action. It intrigues the user to come back for more and to play more games.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Cool Site

My friend is a very accomplished web designer and he told me about someone he'd met from Australia. This is his site; . It is very simple, and very aesthetically pleasing. His work is definitley top notch. I like this site because it is unique and it is his personal resume. My resume is a two page word document. The beauty of this site is in its initial simplicity followed up by all of his work that can be found deeper in the links. The flash and illustration is awesome as well as his character design. Even though I will probably not become a web designer I really appreciate what he has done here. If I were to become a designer I would probably have a very similar representation to the one here. As we have said before aesthetics is not simply one aspect of the composition, but all the pieces fitting together. This site definitley is what I think of when I think of the term aesthetically pleasing.


What makes a good web site?

After our discussions in previous classes, I have been wondering why I like some of the web sites that I do. It turns out that most of the web sites that I visit most often all have one thing in common: they are easy to read and navigate. There is nothing more annoying than a web site that is confusing or takes a while to figure out. Even a couple of minutes is too long. The average user stays on a home page for a couple of seconds and if one site is not clear enough it is easy to go to the next. is an example of a web site that I find pleasurable. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it has all the information you need to tell you if you will want to stay. The words jump out at you and they are fun and eye catching. Another reason I like this homepage is because it has people instead of items. By using people, it makes the experience more relatable and interesting. Most clothing websites have pictures of clothes all over but that does not speak to the user. Another good thing about this site is that the tabs are organized and tell you exactly what you will find if you click it. This makes the user’s experience faster and more enjoyable.

Google Earth is aesthetically pleasing

Google earth is a great example, in my opinion, of simple aesthetics.

Not only can I search pretty much anywhere in the world to see what it looks like, but also I can see it from heights, making the whole picture much different each time.

Even though there is no real man made content within google earth, the images that one can find are just astonishing. Maybe it is the similiar feeling to being in a space shuttle and looking down at Earth from space.

Aesthetics are always better when its simple, and it is definitely almost 99% of the time better when it is achieved naturally. I don't think any great work of art compares to looking on the Rocky Mountains or flying in an airplane looking down at the landscape or snorkeling through a coral reef. Beauty doesn't need to be man-made.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I thought this website from chilis was very eye catching, as the consumer, I feel like it is talking to the user saying come to my restaurant. I have a lot to offer. I really like this website because it is very easy to maneuver. Here is the website:

Attractive Things Work Better, Part 2

After reading Don Norman's article and chapter 3 in the Nielsen book, I started thinking about all of the factors that come into play while designing a good website. Norman says that attractive things are easier to use, and Nielsen says that designers are better off keeping it simple and sticking to certain "tried and true" conventions. Here's a great example of a site that manages to be both attractive (especially for kids) and easy to navigate:

PBS Kids

It's very simple, easy to use and sticks to all of the conventions that Nielsen recommends (pictures as links, links that are blue and underlined, etc. etc.). My five year old nephew loves this site, and I can see why. He can navigate it like a pro on his own without having to be able to actually read the links (the pictures link to the same place as the blue underlined links beneath them). The site's got a lot of Flash on it because of all the games, and I know Nielsen doesn't particularly like Flash, but that's the whole point on a site like this. It's for kids (although last time I saw my nephew, he got me hooked on building aliens. Go to the Arthur page, click on "Games" and try it out!)!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Attractive Things Work Better

After reading, “Attractive Things Work Better” written by Donald A. Norman, I came to the realization that a designer needs to make his design attractive and appealing to everyone. In this article, he talks about how people feel emotions when they hear music, recite a poem, or look at a piece of art. “How do you design something so that it can change from invoking positive affect to invoking a negative one?” (Norman 7). I thought this was interesting because when I think about web pages that appeal to me, I want to see one that goes straight to the point, has intriguing information, and is not too flashy. I thought I learned a lot from this article because I realized that designers never stop learning, and they always want new approaches to their craft.

When a Square is More than a Square

In class on Friday, we considered some instances of how positioning shapes in different ways on a space established different emotions in the viewer. It reminded me of the paintings of Josef Albers. Some people in class may be unaware that a number of his Homage to the Square paintings reside only a few miles from Quinnipiac University at the foundation that was once the home of him and his wife Anni, also an artist. Recently, I had the privilege of standing in the same room with them. I was amazed to see squares receding and moving forward dramatically; the same paintings viewed as photographs in a book are much less engaging. The design elements are the same. What makes the difference? It may be the physical size of the paintings. It may be the lighting. Or, perhaps it is the drama of being in the same room with a work of art whose creator is no longer living, yet that speaks as eloquently as if the artist were standing there beside us. The web site for the foundation is

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Page 72: Pop-Up Windows

While reading in chapter two the section about “pop-up windows” I found myself realizing that on my computer since pop-up blockers have been in use there has not been that many pop-ups. But, I found have to agree with what the author is saying that “to most users, the popping aspect of pop-ups is reason enough to avoid them. Users have become ever more annoyed with pop-ups, and many have gone so far as to install special pop-up blocking software” (Neilson 72). I did get annoyed with pop-ups and that is why I installed this the Google Toolbar. So far, I have blocked over 2,000 pop-ups to this day.

Blog #2

While reading chapter 3 in “Prioritizing Web Usability” by Jakob Neilson and Hoa Loranger on page 81 the book talks about “Dense Content and Unscanable Text”. I thought this was interesting since today in class we were mentioning about how a website has a layout and in different countries different websites have different types of layouts. Since, I have been using the internet daily I really liked this part of the chapter because it talked about how a webpage needs to be having text that is short and to the point, that it is scannable and approachable. Which I know a lot of websites now a days are like. I found this website that can expand more about this topic: .

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Post #1

I've been thinking a lot about the movie clip that we viewed today in class. It really hit home for me and made me think about how easy it is to be superficial about things. The family was perfectly happy before they stumbled upon the coke bottle. Once they had the coke bottle, problems arose because everyone wanted to use it and didn't want to share with the rest of the members. This one material item caused so many problems from unhappiness to jealously. We can all relate in some ways to the concepts presented in this film. It's so easy to forget about how many things you have and how blessed we all are in so many different ways. This movie reminded me of that.

Me Tarzan, She Jane, Need Information

I found the analogy on page 52 to describe information foraging pretty interesting. Do we really act like wild animals gathering food when we're searching for information online? If you take a step back and think about it you can see the correlation between the two examples. First off, the motivation of both parties is at base level survival. Wild animals hunt food to eat in order to survive and humans go online to search and consume information to keep abreast of current topics and to further educate themselves so that they can survive in this information age. Our search methods are similar to the hunt of wild animals. As described earlier in the chapter, people don't spend much time at all on each site. They'll scan it for a few seconds, surveying the site for any information that stokes their appetite and if they don't find anything they move on to the next site. The challenge to web designers and content producers is to tame the wild information hunt and make your site the "Ponderosa" or "Sizzler" of the kingdom - a one stop, all you can eat buffet of information and media.
With that being said, what are the appetizers that can be used to tempt a person hunger and keep them wanting more from your site? Is it an over clear presentation, great video, great visuals, interactive options, etc...?

Friday, September 14, 2007


In reading the Design as communication by Don Norman, I find it interesting that he relates to the objects as actual items that you can communicate with. In reflecting upon this notion, I find it compelling that we subconsciously do exactly that. Ordinary, everyday objects are "designed" by our own actions...what we perceive an object to be is how we determine its function. It is also interesting to note that design can happen in any form - Norman relates design as a type of story. Humans are essentially designing the functions and existence of objects through the complex story that is made through the interaction - from form, to object placement, and to object function.

Bad Websites

Reading "Prioritizing Web Usability," reading other materials for other classes and thinking about design/layout in general, I've been thinking about bad websites. What I've come up with is that I don't know any bad websites. I've gone through everything I check on the web and I can't come up with bad websites.

I think I know why. Most of the information on the Internet is someplace else, articles and data are inevitably on multiple websites. If I don't like the layout of one website, I'll search for the same data and read it someplace else. If the design is bad then I won't go to that website again. The websites I keep going back to are ones that I find easy to use, have a good layout and are visually pleasing to me. Why would I use a poorly designed website when there are some many other, better desgined ones out there?

According to the research, I gather all this information in 30 seconds. Who knew?

My Filespace

Hello all,

Here's the link to "My Filespace":

After clicking, just log in as usual. Be aware, though, that you won't be able to store much - only 250 MB.

What is SERP?

This is what SERP means: .

Post # 1

I am a strong believer in the saying "Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder", this is why I agree that the whole ATM thing was a little ridiculous. Who are they to say what is beautiful and what is not. I do think that there needs to be an organization or should I say flow to a composition in order for it to work. I like the word flow better because organization makes it seem as thought there cannot be abstract elements. I find the sensory experiments interesting because they deal with our immediate reactions, and as we all know first impressions are very important. I think that it takes some time to appreciate a composition, and this is what the article is lacking. After the initial reaction, a lot of people can find beauty in these things that cause automatic negative affects.


Post # 1

I am a strong believer in the saying "Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder", this is why I agree that the whole ATM thing was a little ridiculous. Who are they to say what is beautiful and what is not. I do think that there needs to be an organization or should I say flow to a composition in order for it to work. I like the word flow better because organization makes it seem as thought there cannot be abstract elements. I find the sensory experiments interesting because they deal with our immediate reactions, and as we all know first impressions are very important. I think that it takes some time to appreciate a composition, and this is what the article is lacking. After the initial reaction, a lot of people can find beauty in these things that cause automatic negative affects.


This Could Be Useful!

So, I am one of those people who does not have Photoshop on my computer and I am not in the mood to spend about $400 to buy it.

Since this class is mostly working with the Photoshop program, I thought it may be useful to let others like me know that you do NOT have to purchase the program for this class! Here is how you do it:

go to the MyQ site (from the Quinnipiac website just click on the "MyQ" link at the page top, or go to From MyQ, click on the Citrix link on the left side of the page. Login to Citrix with your Quinnipiac network name and password. Next, a window will open with various programs the school has for use from their network. If you go into the ADOBE folder, you will find the entire CS3 package, including Photoshop.

Now, I have found that it is a little slow but if you don't feel like coming all the way to school to do work, then this may just work for you.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


I really think this website is catching to the eye of any viewer of this website (Children or Adults).

It just is what it is.

I think aesthetics is a lot more than what was presented in the article. I agree that there are the three levels: visceral, behavioral, and reflective. However, the reflective level is something that really isn't something one can describe.

Beauty is seeing something in the whole at one given moment. It is the point where the imagination and the intellect come together along with the objective and the subjective to create one unified moment or feeling: beauty.

Take this example. I want you to think of the last time you saw roadkill on the road. When you remember the roadkill, you only remember the roadkill itself, not much else outside of the "frame". One doesn't remember the number across the street, the mailbox outside from the house, or even the color of a car outside of this frame. At the moment of apprehending the roadkill, there is a unity to one's being. You are apprehending a specific instance; the roadkill itself becomes etched into your mind.

This is the defining characteristic of aesthetics. The moment when one is wholly in the moment. Everything apprehended is just what it is.

what happened to my amazon....

Earlier this week I went to amazon to look for some items and to my shock there had been a number of changes to the layout and feel...I thought Amazons site set the bar for how websites should be easy to use and navigate...why did they go and mess up something good....big booooo on them...thats all for now...just wanted to vent some

Anyone Read the "Attractive Things" Article?...

After waking up (oops)...I mean, after reading the Attractive Things Work Better article, I didn't feel as though any new or exciting information was given....sorry for spoiling it for you Saturday class.

The article begins with a ridiculous experiment using ATMs in Japan and Isreal. The designer thought it would be a good idea to arrange the buttons in "an attractive manner" and the other in "an unattractive manner" (why is that person classified as a "designer"?). It was no surprise that people preferred the "attractive" machine. I have to pose this; in saying "attractive manner" are we to believe he meant "organized" and if so, doesn't it seem kind of absurd to say that people gravitated toward the "attractive" machines? Point being, ATMs are supposed to be easy to use which is why people in both Japan and Israel (notice they didn't even try this in America) liked the attractive/organized machines.

The article goes on to present such revelations as "Emotions change the way people solve problems", "attractive things make people feel good" and of course "when people are happy, they are more imaginative". Norman goes on to say (not exactly in these words) happy people are also able to find alternative solutions to problems as opposed to people who are stressed or under a specific pressure; hence why creative people should not have deadlines.

After reading the 12 pages, the above is what stuck with me most...simply because he appeared to ramble through the last 8 pages; speaking about how humans have the ability to reflect upon previous experiences and utilize such experiences when encountering new challenges (a trait which I don't believe EVERY human has...yes, I do have a friend who lacks that ability). He also speaks about people who like roller coasters because of the correlation between fear and pride.

Norman also offers his version of positive and negative conditions that have an influence on the brain. The positive side includes such inquisitive items as "sweet tastes", "attractive people" (which in my opinion could be a negative as well) and "warm places". On the negative side; "heights" (which to some could be a positive), "extreme hot or cold" and "crowds".

I have to say that during my entire time reading this article, I too was very get to the end of it. I now know that being anxious did not make me happy which is why I could not be creative while writing this entry. :)

Blog #1: Chap.2

We find ourselves in a world where the average person’s attention span is fairly short. Everything is designed to give the greatest amount of information in the shortest amount of time (or give you the least amount of information and still excite the viewer, like an action film trailer). This is the point of Nielson and Loranger in the second chapter of Prioritizing Web Usability. It’s important, as a web designer, to understand that the average person spends very little time on a web page, especially when visiting it for the first time, and only scans the page for the information they need.

I was a little surprised to read that the average web user, at least determined through Nielson/Loranger’s study, spends roughly only thirty seconds on a web page. When I thought about it, considering how much time I spend on a web page, I realized how much the calculation makes sense. When visiting a site for the first time, I spend little time to scan the page for the information that I am looking for. If I can’t find the information easily and quickly, then I move on to another site. I’ve never timed myself, but I’m sure it would be under a minute. If I find the site through a search engine or what Nielson/Loranger have called a deep-link, I am likely to spend more time on the web page because I believe the information that I’m seeking truly is on that page.

When designing a web page, it’s important to keep in mind that a page has very little time to do its job. If it’s inundated with irrelevant junk and is complicated to navigate, then the page will likely fail. Like a book cover, the homepage serves to attract the web user’s attention and quickly answer the questions who, what, and how. The homepage needs to confirm the user that they are in the right place and entice them to look further into the site’s interior pages, where more goodies reside.

Another theme that I thought was important that Nielson and Loranger briefly touched upon was the importance of getting third party sites and search engines to link directly to specific issues (pg 29). This idea is important because the Internet is a vast and endless network. By having third party sites link directly to a specific web page, new visitors will constantly be generated. Also, a site can establish itself as a good source by linking to other useful sites, possibly increasing the number of repeat customers.

Websites need to cater to the thirty second attention span, so it is worthwhile to invest in ways to direct a user to the specific information they are looking for. A strong website can answer a user’s question and also keep their interest to explore further into the site or establish a relationship for a repeat visit. This can all be accomplished through accessibility and easy usability.

Blog #1

I really enjoyed chapter 2 of "Prioritizing web usability" because it talked about many things that I, as an avid web user, can relate to. The most interesting section was the one on deep links. "Deep links enhance usability because they are more likely to satisfy a user's needs" (p. 29). I agree with this one hundred percent. There are countless numbers of sites that I regularly visit because I was introduced to them through a deep link.
It also made me think of the many web sites that I may have missed because I didn't spend enough time on them. There are many web sites that are under visited because users either don't stay long enough or are unsure of where to find what they are interested in. Deep links introduce users to sites they never knew existed but would be interested in. It is very important for web sites to take advantage of this option so they can add to their user base.

Great Music Site

Since everyone has been posting about some of their favorite designed sites, I thought I'd join in.

Rhapsody has a really good design. For those who don't know, Rhapsody is a music service that you can subscribe to to stream and download music (or sign up for the free account for 25 free plays a month!)

At first glance, it might look a little overwhelming, but upon further inspection...there's just lots of information that is easy to take advantage of. They have music "In the Spotlight", music by genre, new releases, charts, etc, all enabling you to find the music you want to hear as soon as possible (not to mention a great Search function too).

I'm currently working with a Software Development company that is currently building our own music site (albeit, indie-based), and Rhapsody is one of the sites we always praise and talk about for its simplistic, yet catchy design, and the many different ways to find new music. It's a fun site to use, and it keeps me coming back regularly.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Interesting Article

Here's an interesting article about search engines and data across the web:

Helping Computers to Search With Nuance, Like Us

T.G.I. Fridays

I really like T.G.I. Friday's website. It shows a good use of using Adobe Flash. It is very pleasing to the viewers eye and it attracts the viewer to see more on the website (for e.g. the menu).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Visit The design for this site is not only simple and direct, but also adds subtle features that keep you interested. It is composed with a good deal of whitespace that leaves it extremely uncluttered and easy to find what you are looking for directly from the homepage. The use of bold, predominant red to accent the whitespace effectively moves your eye around the entire composition.

Web Design

You can check out this link for a little inspiration;

Monday, September 10, 2007

Norman Rockwell

If anyone wants to see more pictures of Norman Rockwell's Work. Here is the website:

I thought that using these type of pictures to show Visual Aesthetics in pictures was a great idea. It showed the difference of color, emotion, and placing of objects.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Page 36 in Prioritizing Web Usability

When I was reading chapter two for this class, what really struck me as I was read was the section about “Search Dominance”. It said on page 36, “When we let users loose to go anywhere they wanted on the Web, they went to a search engine 88 percent of the time. Only 12 percent of cases did they go straight to a Web site they hoped would help them with their problem.” I thought this was very interesting because I use the Internet daily and whenever I am searching for something, I go straight to the search engine and not the Web page itself. I do this because usually I do not know what type of Web site would have what I am looking for. I did not realize that this “tool” has become a very useful and dominant tool for users while they are on the Internet.

Friday, September 7, 2007


Hi Everyone,

Welcome to the ICM 502 blog.
As an experiment I have decided that both sections of the class post to the same blog.
I hope it will provide an oportunity for more diverse discussions, but if it will become confusing, please let me know and we will split the blogs.