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. 😀

My Y4IT 2009 Talk: Web Usability & User Experience Design

As I said in my previous post, I was invited to speak at the 2009 Y4IT Conference held at the University of the Philippines – Diliman in Quezon City and my talk was held yesterday.

Although it was my third year in a row to speak, it was my first time at the big stage. My talk, “Web Usability & User Experience Design,” was held at the University of the Philippines Theater and that capacity of that venue, by my estimate, is 3,000. Last year, I was at the UP Film Institute’s Cine Adarna, a place with at least 1,000 seating capacity. But regardless of the venue, both places were crowded and extra seats had to be provided to accommodate all the attendees.

As far as my talk went, it was pretty OK. I didn’t get nervous since there as an intermission my Pinoy Dream Academy finalist Liezel Garcia before I went on stage. The energy of the crown was pretty positive as I started. And this was helpful as I wasn’t feeling 100% at that time.

One thing I learned in presenting to large audiences is that the start has to be great. And with a crowd that was at least 3,000, I knew my start had to be better than great.

So I started to loosen up on stage and addressed the audience very casually (the attendees were primarily college students in their junior and senior years). Interestingly, I started off by telling the crowd that my talk was about, gasp, love.  Anyways, I got their attention and proceeded to transition to the meat of my talk: web usability and user experience design.

The most frustrating part about my talk was that when I asked the audience who did web projects in school, a very small, and I mean small, amount raised their hands. I could only see the negative in this. Either a) the audience wasn’t listening to me, or b) Information Technology students in the Philippines today are NOT into doing any web design or development. If the reason was the first, it meant I failed to do the necessary research about the audience and if it was the second, it meant that the future of web design in the Philippines doesn’t look good.

I also got feedback from a blogger who was part of the audience that the slide deck in Powerpoint that I used was great. (Although he was not convinced the audience was ready for my talk). But in anycase, any type of feedback is welcome. 🙂

Over-all, the experience of speaking before 3,000 people about usability was a blast. I hope the audience learned a thing or two about web usability and user experience design and I get to do this again next year. 😀

Speaking at the 2009 Y4IT Conference

I’ll be speaking again at the Philippine Youth Congress in Information Technology (aka the Y4IT Conference). I’ve had talks in Y4IT 2007 and Y4IT 2008, and for the 2009 edition, I’m going back to basics.

The themes of my last two talks were about Web 2.0 (Social media, user generated content) and I figured either I take the notch up or blaze a new trail and I chose the latter. Tomorrow, I’ll be talking about Web Usability and User Experience Design– two topics that I know pretty well and topics that are closer to my heart.

To be honest, I avoided talking about usability in the last two years because I felt I wanted to stretch my wings a bit, but now I feel that I need to remind the young IT college students again about the value of web usability.

So, for everyone who’ll be attending the Y4IT Conference tomorrow, expect the same nice talk from me on a very interesting topic. 🙂


This year’s Y4IT conference is full of very interesting topics and catchy titles and here are some that caught my eye:

  • Developing Web Toys - Mr. Luis Buenaventura II
  • Marketing Through Social Networks - Mr. J. Angelo Racoma
  • IT in the Early Grades- Ms. Sabrina Par
  • The 7 Habits of an Effective Developer - Mr. Chuk Munn Lee
  • The Next 5 in 5: Predicting Innovations  - Mr. Lope Doromal, Jr.
  • Love in Cyberspace - Prof. Cherrie Joy Billedo
  • Creating Dynamic Web Application Using ASP.NET 3.5 - Ms. Alezandra Nicolas
  • Democratizing Innovation Using the Web - Mr. Mark Ruiz
  • Empathic Computing: Innovations and Challenges – Dr. Merlin Teodosia Suarez
  • Innovation on the Web -Mr. Jay Trinidad
  • Internet Romance - Mr. Jayvee Fernandez
  • To Tumble, to Twitt; to Twitt: Perchance to Plurk: Ay, There’s the Rub - Mr. Juned Sonido

Microsoft-Yahoo!: Consolidation in the Search Business

The long-delayed partnership between Microsoft and Yahoo! is now a reality and this could mean one thing: it’s now a virtual two-man race in the search business.

This partnership between the two online giants would now have approximately 30% of the search engine market. The Microsoft-Yahoo two-headed monster is now pitting itself against the dominant force in the field– Google.

It’s pretty clear from the deal what both parties are getting: Microsoft is trying its darned best to make a dent in Google’s search business and Yahoo is in need of a big jolt to make up for its recent misfortunes (The company took a beating since rejecting Microsoft’s acquisitionn bid last year). Yahoo! Search will be powered by Bing and the company will be selling ads for the Redmond-based Microsoft.

From the customer point of view, it’s not much of a difference as Yahoo has never been known as a search company but a content-oriented company. Placing “Powered by Microsoft Bing” on the search pages will have little effect on the user experience as both Yahoo and Bing have emulated the look and feel of Google’s search engine result pages (SERPs).

If you ask me, Search Engine Optimization folks are probably the most affected by this development. Reducing the Google-Yahoo-Bing trinity into a Google-versus-Bing means less sites to optimize for, and this could result in easier work and fewer projects.

form function & class Web Design Conference All Set!

After several months of preparation, planning and the occasional frustration, the form function & class Web Design Conference is all set on July 10, 2009 at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).

Just a few more reminders to those who will be attending the event:

  • Payment – Early payment can be done at the AIM Marketing office (3rd floor). Look for Ms. Mel Solomon for the payment of cash or check (payable to the Philippine Web Designers Organization). Online and bankd deposit options are available. Please visit the confirmation site for more information on the payment schemes.
  • Lunch – Many people have been asking, so here’s a clarification: lunch will be served at the event.
  • Adobe CS4 Raffle – Only those who have registered at the Adobe User Group – Philippines Adobe Groups site and present at the event are the ones eligible. The cut-off for membership is at 12nn on July 10, 2009. The final list of entries will be based on the people who are physically present in the event.
  • Google AdWords vouchers – Only the first 100 non-student registrants will get a Google AdWords voucher. We will have different registration tables for those who have reserved & paid/not paid and walk-ins. We have developed a system to give everyone a fair chance to get a Google AdWords voucher, regardless if you have paid or not.
  • Additional Slots – We initially booked the event to have 400 slots, but dur to the demand, we have increased it by 50. Still, folks who would like to come must reserve a slot at the confirmation site.

For more information on the event, feel free to email me or post a comment on this blog post. 🙂

Spoke at the 14th Graphic Expo

I was invited to give a couple of talks in behalf of the Philippine Web Designers Organization (PWDO) at the 14th Graphic Expo in Pasay City. The talks I gave centered on two aspects of what I’m very much interested in: Web Standards and Freelancing for the Web. Those two speaking slots were held on two different days, but the weather was just bad (like storm-like bad).

For the Web Standards talk, the audience was primarily non-web designers, but potential clients of web designers. (I initially thought I would be educating designers, but it was OK.) I had to adjust the talk to focus more on the benefits of looking for designers or companies that used Web Standards. I pointed out things like the ease of maintenance, the potential cost-savings on hosting & bandwidth, and the workflow benefits. If Web Standards were a product, I was like a salesman for it. 😛

On the next talk, I gave a talk about working freelance and doing web projects. It was less technical, but equally interesting. Personally, the talk was easy to prepare for because most of the content and stories were from my own personal experiences (Like working with web design clients from hell :P). It also helped that I shared some “serious” business-related stuff I learned from my MBA studies,  but I think what resonated was the true-to-life stories of freelancing.

After the talks, I realized that the Graphic Expo is a good venue for PWDO to promote itself and its mission. Since the Graphic Expo is one of the biggest trade shows in the Philippines on print & digital graphics, I seriously believe that this year’s event won’t be the last PWDO will be participating in.

On a side note, thanks to Jonel Uy for the post on the Graphic Expo launch.

Mozilla Labs Design Challenge Summer 09

“How do you improved tabbed browsing?”

This is the fundamental question the Mozilla Labs Design Challenge Summer 09 is trying to answer. More specifically, the design challenge is how to find new, innovative ways to create, navigate and manage multiple web sites within the same browser instance.

The context of this challenge is the inherent weakness of tabs: it can work for a few items (around 9-10 tabs), but it falters when the number of tabs goes beyond that. (Imagine tabbed browsing for 50 windows). I think the challenge is really to now go beyond tabbed browsing because I believe tabbed browsing has its place, its just that the environment & experience of web browsing is changing.

To join the design challenge, any person can submit an idea (that could even be scribbled on napkin) and a video uploaded in the major video sharing sites explaining the proposed solution to the tabbed browsing problem. The deadline for submissions is on June 12, 2009.