Write an Essay on Usability, Win a Kindle!

Human Factors International is sponsoring an essay writing contest for the upcoming World Usability Day 2009. The top two essays will be taking home a spiffy new Kindle reading device from Amazon.com.

Since the theme of this year’s World Usability Day is “Designing for Sustainability,” the essay should answer the question:

How can the User Experience Community support the future of sustainability?

Each essay submission should be between 100-300 words and it will be judged on the merits on Practicality,  Strategic View,  Human Centricity, and Magnitude of Impact. All usability essays should be written in English.

The deadline for submission is on November 6, 2009 and the winners will be announced on World Usability Day, November 12, 2009. Once you’re done writing, you can submit you essay at the contest website.

World Usability Day Logo

Speaking of World Usability Day 2009, the Manila leg of the global event is slowly taking shape. I’ll keep everyone posted on World Usability Day Manila. ๐Ÿ˜€

Join the Mozilla Philippines Community Mailing List!

In line with the continuing expansion of Mozilla’s presence here in the Philippines, there is now an official Mozilla Community mailing list for the Philippines.

The mailing list was created by Mozilla’s Gen Kanai (Director of Asia Business Development) and the list is for discussion of Firefox and Mozilla technologies in the Philippines.  The list also aims to be the initial communication hub for localization, events, and site compatibility issues here in the Philippines.

So if you’re a Filipino web designer, web developer, web standards enthusiast, blogger, or a student interested in open web technologies in the browser space, I invite you to join the Mozilla Philippines Community mailing list.

3 Ways to Improve Your Web Usability Mojo

In cult favorite films like Rocky or The Karate Kid, the hero underwent a training regimen that improved their skills that enabled them to succeed. (Well, Rocky in the first film lost). But thank goodness that it doesn’t take a massive training like that to improve your knowledge on web usability.

Web designers and developers can do three simple steps to improve their working usability skills:

  1. Know Your Users – This step puts almost everything into context. By using any available method to elicit feedback from the target users, you can have a better what they really need to do effectively on the website.
  2. Design For the Users – Upon having a better idea what the users need,  the next step is to make it more easy for them to complete their tasks. Let’s take an online store for example: Place critical links in easier to access areas and make prioritized buttons like checkout or emptying the cart more conspicuous.
  3. Test! – A wise man said that simple testing beats zero testing any day, so try to test your design. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate lab set-up, but having an open mind get weird and unexpected from a user helps.

By doing those the simple things, your web usability will definitely be better. How much better? Well, that’s up to you. ๐Ÿ™‚

2009 Philippine Blog Awards Winners

Here are the winners of the 2009 Philippine Blog Awards announced last October 9, 2009:

Props are also in order for Micamyx for winning the Bloggers’ Choice Award, Let’s Go Sago for the Geiser-Maclang Transformation Award, and Good Times Manila for the Chikka Media-Readers’ Choice Award.

Congratulations and keep on setting the gold standard for Philippine blogging! ๐Ÿ˜€

(Note: I got the list of winners from Tonyo Cruz’s blog)

Web Design Vs. Print Design: A Review

Fifteen years ago, there were no web designers. The very first web designers in the early days of the web were “traditional” graphic designers that migrated their skills from print to the new media.  So a lot of web design today is influenced by print design philosophies.

However, it’s easy to take from granted the differences between print and the web for the designer. Here are some of the key differences revisited:

  1. The Web is Dynamic – the key difference between the two media is that designing for the web means designing for content that will change based on the reader’s interaction. Printed content and design, obviously, will stay the same for eternity.
  2. Authoring is different – Making web pages can literally be done on notepad for the HTML, CSS, and Javascript stuff. But there are key tools available from image editors (Adobe Photoshop/Fireworks, Mic), editors (Adobe Dreamweaver), and even rich media (Flash) that give the web its interactivity. Print folks have Adobe InDesign, and even Microsoft Word. Also, designing for print operates better in a WYSIWYG environment.
  3. As far as standards go, the web has a long way to go – From the browsers, to the mark-up standards, and design standards the web is a mish-mash compared to print.  If I ask you what the standard for rich media on the web, you’ll probably say “Flash,” but open web standards advocates will point to something else.

As web design matures and print media finds a way to arrest its steady decline, designers will probably dabble on the media more often. Appreciating the difference between the two media could probably go a long way.

Three Job Postings

Just a quick one: I have three job postings from friends who are looking to fill various positions

  1. MySQL DBA/Consultant – This is a project-based consultancy to manage several tables and fix table structure. Must be very familiar with JOIN operations.
  2. Marketing Researcher– A social media consulting start-up is looking for someone who’s comfortable with the web, crunching market data, and knows her statistical analysis for market research. Preferably a Psychology, Sociology, or Statistics major and fresh graduates are welcome to apply.
  3. Marketing/Accounts Associate – From the same firm in #2, my friend would also like to get someone who is web-savvy, likes social media, and finds interacting with clients in a professional capacity a joy. Ideally, she should be able to use data to her advantage and she should have finished a business-related degree. Fresh graduates are welcome to apply.

All positions are based in Metro Manila, with the last two based in Makati City.

For the job postings above, please email your resume, with the job you wish to apply for, at regnard (at) raquedan.com.

If you have job openings in the web and social media fields, feel free to sent it my way and I’ll post it in my blog and relevant mailing lists. ๐Ÿ™‚

2 Reasons Why HTML 5 Should be in Web Designers’ Sights

Things have been pretty silent on the Web Standards front in the last year but I’m sure the noise level will by pickup by next year as the HTML 5 specification is gradually going to be implemented on browsers and other apps (particularly the trend-setting Google Wave).

Web designers who are serious in their crafts should definitely take a look at the HTML 5 spec as I see it to be a game-changing upgrade of skills for the web design-folk. If you’re a web designer, I have a couple reasons why HTML 5 should be in your radar:

  1. It will change your workflow – With new elements for tags, I’m sure it will take a lot of getting used to. If you coded <div>’s on your sleep, that will change in HTML 5 as more semantic tags like <section>, <article>, and <aside> are around. Also, you may be tasked to migrate HTML 4/XHTML 1.0-coded pages into HTML 5.
  2. It puts more emphasis on wider interaction mechanisms – I have to admin, designing for the “old” web is simpler as the interaction interface is primarily HTML forms. But if there’s anything we’ve seen in the last two years of web design, interaction has evolved and HTML 5 makes it more official. Free-form drawing via the <canvas> element, drag-and-drop, and active background processes mean some changes in the web design philosophies designers are used to.

HTML 5 is definitely a richer spec and would definitely make the Web a more immersive place. It’s now up to us, the people making websites, if we can make it happen for our end users.