World Usability Day in Manila Press Release

World Usability DayHere’s the press release for the Manila event leg for the World Usability Day: User Friendly: The Seminar Series:

Manila, Philippines – November, 6, 2006 – Usabilty professionals, web & software developers and students will come together on World Usability Day in November 14, 2006 in a seminar called the User Friendly: The Seminar Series, announced Regnard Kreisler Raquedan, Adobe User Group – Philippines User Group Manager.

The World Usability Day is a world-wide event happening in 115 locations is 35 counties that focuses on usability or ease of use of tools such as software and gadgets.

The seminar series will happen on different locations in Metro Manila. The main seminar will be held at the Mob at the fourth floor of Market! Market! and will run from 12 noon to 6 in the evening. Satellite seminars will be held in De La Salle University, University of the Philippines, Ateneo Graduate School of Business, Assumption College and University of Santo Tomas.

Topics that will be covered in the seminar are Software Usability, Mobile Usability, Ergonomics of Today’s Gadgets, Web2.0 and Usability, Usability Engineering, Web Usability, Introduction to Usability, Blogging & Usability and Creativity & Usability.

The list of speakers in the event is a roster of accomplished professionals and academics. Speaking at the seminar series are Greg Moreno of Gaboogle Software, April Cabello, CUA, of Globe, Dr. Aura Matias of the University of the Philippines, Hans Koch and Luis Buenaventura of Syndeo Media, Dr. Lloyd Espiritu of De La Salle University, Alvin Tan of Exponencia, Rey Mendoza of the University of Santo Tomas and Liza Flores of Ang Ilusatrador ng Kabataan.

“This is a great way to get the community involved and have an appreciation for making things easy,” said Raquedan. “We are building on the success we had when we were part of the pioneer events of first World Usability Day last year.”

“I am also very pleased with the support of school organizations for the World Usability Day. Groups like MooMedia of DLSU, ACM-UP Diliman Chapter, Rotaract Blue Eagles and the Computer Society of Assumption are examples of school-based organization extending out of the university and taking part in a global initiative,” Raquedan added.

One of the highlights of the seminar event is the raffle of a licensed Adobe Studio 8, worth US$ 999. The winner will be drawn from the attendees of the main seminar in Market! Market!

User Friendly: The Seminar Series is organized by the Adobe User Group – Philippines in partnership with Digital Media Exchange. For more information, contact Regnard Kreisler Raquedan via email at regnard@raquedan.com or visit the event website at http://www.augphil.org/wud2006. Interested parties may pre-register online at http://userfriendly.eventbrite.com.

Jesse James Garrett: “There are a lot of ways Ajax can be used, and most of them are wrong. “

Jesse James Garett, the man behind AJAX, shares his thoughts on Flash, Ajax and Usability.

DMXzone.com publshes the interview where we we learn more about Jesse, his company and his thought on usability, AJAX and related technologies. Here is an excerpt of the interview:

Can you mention a few mistakes that developers often make when using AJAX?

Jesse James: “I think the biggest mistake developers make is in thinking that Ajax will automatically improve the experience of using their application.

There are a lot of ways Ajax can be used, and most of them are wrong.

When you think about using Ajax in your application, you should first consider how the user will benefit, as well as whether the Ajax functionality might violate their expectations. Also, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: some application functionality works perfectly fine with traditional Web technology. Ajax may provide a different way to accomplish the same end, but not necessarily a better one.”

Do you think that AJAX will eventually raise interest in Usability and Accessibility?

Jesse James: “It seems inevitable to me. The interface constraints of traditional Web technology made it easy to neglect these concerns. The freedom and flexibility that Ajax brings to the Web present new challenges for developers. As we try to address these challenges, we’re going to make a lot of mistakes. In order to avoid repeating those mistakes, a lot of people will start investigating usability and accessibility issues.”

(Read the complete interview in the DMXzone.com October 2006 e-Magazine.)

Mr. Garrett has an interesting point in the first question & answer I quoted. AJAX is really a tool for specific situations, (e.g. drag and drop interactions) but not a magic bullet for everything. Do all sites need asynchronous transfer? That’s like asking the question if all sites need Flash.

Here’s a short list of good, practical places to sprinkle Ajax in your site:

  • Registration forms – Validation of forms is now virtually proactive.
  • Autocomplete – Whenever you cut the user’s time for the task, it’s a good thing.
  • Eliminate the Refresh button – Ajax can give the user a more responsive web experience.
  • Better error messages – Wrong password confirmation? Inform the user of their errors in a more effective way

Poor Usability implicated in Rejection of Mobile Internet

This article from Usability News has some startling news about how poor usability has affected the use of Internet services on mobile devices. The survey commissioned by Hostway found out that almost 75% of users do not use the internet capabilities of mobile devices such as PDAs or cellphones because of poor usability.

At this point, it has become more evident that usability in an emerging platform is more important than ever. It also a bit surprising that Jakob Nielsen has written about it almost five years ago in his article about mobile devices.

The Web on User Interface Design for the Mobile Device, Part 1

BBC has an interesting article about the rising complexity of designing for mobile devices. The idea that struck me is how would web designers and developers will adapt their skillset to support these mobile devices. It’s not new that modern wireless technology has been integrated to mobile devices so i guess it’s really a matter of time before designers are really required to adapt to cellphones and PDA’s.

I did a little reasearch and came upon a document from the W3C about best practices for the Mobile Web. It’s a long read and it’s really technical. (and I doubt if it could really be helpful to the general public). Another article if found came from Digital Web. It’s an overview of what the mobile device/application concept and the standards that exists (yes, they do).

I’ll be on the prowl for more information about mobile interface design, stay tuned for succeeding installments.

CSS: The Accessibility Failure

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, a W3C working group draft, has said that CSS is a failure when it comes to accessibility. It even recommends that “it is important not to rely on CSS for a visual-only layout which differs from the source code or programmatically determined reading order.”

Joe Clark of A List Apart fame has lambasted the guidelines in a posting at A List Apart. He even has started a group to go against correct the WCAG 2.0 1.0 recommendations.

In my opinion, the WCAG definition has a point but misses the big picture. CSS has done huge for accessibility (such as different media rendering, encouraging semantic code and structure). Yes, CSS is far from perfect but it is not a failure in my books.

Note: Thanks to Joe Clark for clarifying on some matters on WCAG Samurai (see his comment on this posting.)