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Topic: Technology

Making the Physical Environment Interactive

August 5, 2002

Tiny motors and sensors will make physical objects interactive and create a renaissance for gestural user interfaces. As interface design moves from the screen to the material world, the need for simple, easy to use designs will only increase.

Avoiding Commodity Status

February 3, 2002

PCs do not need to be commodities: a focus on quality can differentiate both products and services. Software has great potential for getting better, as shown by an under-appreciated feature in Windows XP that can save users $2,000 per year.

DVD Menu Design: The Failures of Web Design Recreated Yet Again

December 9, 2001

Designers of DVDs have failed to profit from the lessons of previous media. DVD menu structures are baroque, less usable, less pleasurable, less effective. It is time to take DVD design as seriously as we do web design. The field needs discipline, attention, to the User Experience, and standardization of control and display formats.

Poor Code Quality Contaminates Users' Conceptual Models

October 28, 2001

Software bugs and system crashes result in huge productivity losses and undermine users' ability to form good models of how computers work. Website designers can help improve user confidence by prioritizing quality and robustness over features and the latest technology.

Stationary Mobility

March 18, 2001

Mobile Internet access will free us from having to connect appliances to telephone jacks and will make smart devices much easier to install. In fact, they may not need a user interface at all, as exemplified by the Japanese i-pot.

Security & Human Factors

November 26, 2000

A big lie of computer security is that security improves as password complexity increases. In reality, users simply write down difficult passwords, leaving the system vulnerable. Security is better increased by designing for how people actually behave.

Flash: 99% Bad

October 29, 2000

Flash reduces usability for three reasons: it makes bad design more likely, it breaks the Web's fundamental interaction style, and it consumes resources that would be better spent enhancing a site's core value.

The Network is the User Experience: Microsoft's .NET Announcement

June 25, 2000

Microsoft's .NET strategy is a brilliant counter-move that reduces the Justice Department's proposed penalty to a victory in the previous war. Integrating the user experience at the network level opens the door to new and exciting services while diminishing the importance of traditional isolated websites.

Finally Progress in Internet Client Design

April 30, 2000

Napster, IE 5 for the Mac, and Yahoo FinanceVision introduce specialized Internet UIs beyond the standard page viewing that had been unchanged since Mosaic.

User-Supportive Internet Architecture

September 19, 1999

The basic ideology of the Internet is bit transport; we need a utility-focused human-centered ideology for its fundamental architecture and protocols.

Stuck With Old Browsers for at Least 3 Years

April 18, 1999

4% of users upgraded to a new version each month in 1998. By 2008, upgrade speeds were only 2%/month. It takes 3 years for 3/4 of users to embrace a new version.


March 21, 1999

Users continue to type and guess URLs and domain names, so Web usability can be improved by better URLs. In the long term this machine-level addressing scheme must be hidden.

iCab: New Browser With Structural Navigation

February 23, 1999

iCab, a web browser introduced in 1999, uses the LINK tags from the page headers to provide additional navigation links to the users. This structural navigation provides a valuable alternative to users.

Does Internet = Web ?

September 20, 1998

Advanced functionality requires Internet-enabled client-server software with optimized user interfaces that cannot be delivered in a Web browser. Reserve the Web for hypertext and content features.

Nielsen's Law of Internet Bandwidth

April 5, 1998

Users' bandwidth grows by 50% per year (10% less than Moore's Law for computer speed). The new law fits data from 1983 to 2014.

The Increasing Conservatism of Web Users

March 22, 1998

Users demand compliance with established design conventions. No site can stand out any more; all are part of a single interwoven user experience; the Web as a whole dictates design

The Java Ring: A Wearable Computer

March 1, 1998

The Java Ring, a piece of jewelry with 6 kilobytes of RAM, represented an early step towards computers that integrate into our physical environment.

Effective Use of Style Sheets

July 1, 1997

CSS promotes site consistency and improved usability if linked (not embedded), centrally designed (not by page authors), and actively evangelized with example-rich style manuals. Respect user preferences.

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