User Experience and Usability Articles

Our continuous work on enterprise application design projects has allowed us to encounter, ponder, and solve many user interface problems. Here is a selection of some of the articles that we have written on the subject over the years.

Making Complex Web Navigation a Usable Experience

May 2011
Information and feature overload is reducing user productivity and effectiveness. This article discusses the pragmatic approaches of Information Architecture to develop usable navigation models with complex systems
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Leveraging Enterprise Applications with Web

2.0 Mar 2007
We believe Web 2.0 is not a revolution as much as an evolution. Simply put, the web is finally leveraging standards (CSS, JavaScript, etc) to deliver engaging, interactive and integrated content in ways that allow users to focus on the task and the customer rather than the interface.
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8 Stupid Things Teams Do To Mess Up Their Software Projects

Jul 2004
In 2002, the United States wasted over $55 billion on failed and poorly run software projects according to the Standish Group. Ten years ago, they reported similar numbers with 53% of projects overrunning their estimates and only 61% of features being implemented.
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Will 2004 Be the Year We Abandon HTML?

Jan 2004
Probably not. However, Jim Hobart, president of Classic System Solutions, has a strong sense that this will be the year for a major shift in technology deployment for enterprise Internet applications away from HTML/JavaScript and toward the adoption of rich client solutions.
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A Pattern for Selecting Dates

Jun 2003
Allowing users to enter dates into a form can be more confusing then it should be. Jim, takes a look at establishing a consistent pattern for solving this issue.
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Leveraging UI Design with Agile Development

Feb 2003
Jim and Matt take a look at an approach to shorten development time, and create synergy between project cycles, by incorporating business intelligence and technical expertise into the user interface (UI) design process.
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Using Tab Patterns with Web Applications

Jan 2003
Jim and Andrew establish a consistent pattern for selecting a single item from a list of categorized items using a file folder metaphor.
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Implementing Visual Design Patterns

Aug 2002
Countless designs have been deployed to very large user communities only to result in poor usability. Jim looks at visual design patterns (VDP) as a way of telling the developer when, why, and how the design solution can be applied successfully.
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Optimizing User Experience with Agile Design

Apr 2002
With all the press and attention recently given to extreme programming and agile modeling techniques, Jim explores the benefits of agile design to quickly establish a high quality user interface (UI).
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Using Patterns to Capture Design Experience

Dec 2001
Jim looks at how design guidelines can be used to capture design knowledge and help make the best decisions when creating user interfaces.
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Managing Risk with Usability Testing

Sep 2001
Aviva responds to the question: “Why should I pay attention to usability test results based on the observations of only a few users? Shouldn’t the tests be based on a random sample of the whole population of users, and be statistically valid?”
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Are You Wasting Time and Money on Your Visual Design Efforts?

Aug 2001
According to Forrester Research, 75% of Internet-based service projects fail to deliver the promised results. Jim looks at ways to reduce these project risks to manageable levels, with experience, an effective process, and the right tools to support your efforts.
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What is Section 508, and Why do You Need to Know About It?

Jul 2001
Section 508 is poised to have an immense impact on all vendors of information technology, as well as on nearly all government agencies. Aviva takes a comprehensive look at it, and the information technology affected by Section 508.
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Beating the Odds and Delivering Truly Usable Systems

Jun 2001
How many times have you heard someone say, “GUI guidelines are mostly common sense”? If that’s the case, then why do we struggle with designing usable systems so much? Andrew demonstrates how to delivery usable solutions.
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What Kind of Users Use Your GUI?

May 2001
In Part 2 in a series on Getting to Know the “U” in GUI, Aviva looks at getting accurate and specific details about the characteristics of your target user base for setting the usability requirements of a graphical user interface.
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Do You Know Who Your Users Are?

Apr 2001
In Part 1 in a series on Getting to Know the “U” in GUI, Aviva looks at how to understand your users — their ways of working, the environments they work in, and the way they conceptualize the tasks automated by your system, to design a truly usable GUI.
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Designing Successful Mobile Applications

Mar 2001
As the wireless Internet becomes a reality, the end users strive to be more productive on this new breed of user interface. Jim sheds some light on the process of creating successful mobile interfaces.
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Five Mistakes to Avoid When Implementing a Thin-Client GUI Strategy

May 2000
A thin-client solution can be much harder to develop than a traditional client/server application. Jim explores three important reasons why and five mistakes that we often make.
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IBM’s Shareware That Could be Worth Millions

Aug 1999
With its San Francisco project, IBM has assembled a consortium with a novel approach for building enterprise frameworks. Jim looks at the benefits of this approach and what it will provide from a user interface perspective.
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Effective Icon Design

May 1998
Since people comprehend images faster than words, icons can make it easier and faster to perform a task. Good icons convey their function rapidly and are easy to remember. Bad icons can actually reduce the usability of an application.
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Creating a Professional Splash Screen

Feb 1998
The splash screen is the first thing that users see when they enter your application. You should think of it as the cover of a book — a good first impression says a lot.
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Menu Design for Complex Applications

May 1997
Jim looks at the three types of menus in the traditional application window and how they enhances usability by defining the appropriate user interface as the user activates or deactivates an object.
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Languages for Web Development

Mar 1997
The architectural benefits provided by a web site design is significantly affected by the type of language on which it is based. Jim examines the different languages and their benefits.
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Migrating Win 3.1 Help to Win 95/NT

May 1996
Moving your help system from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95/NT involves several steps that take into consideration content, search, and programming issues.
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Principles of Good GUI Design

Oct 1995
Graphical user interfaces (GUIs) have become the user interface of choice. Yet despite the GUI’s popularity, surprisingly few programs exhibit good interface design.
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