November 19, 2006

Urban Usability Blog Update

I have been very busy at work, where I use UCD principles to product manage usability and accessibility offerings for a mobile communications device manufacturer, and simply won't have time to continue this blog.

For those still interested in my ghetto-geek brand of musings, please note that I am starting a new blog devoted completely to my goal of getting back into shape. The blog is called SuperFreak and and will be more like a blogumentary that chronicles every step of my journey to a fitter me.

You can find the blog at

October 19, 2006

Gartner Charges for Accessibility

While the term 'accessibility' refers to the level to which system interaction is enabled for users with varying levels of abilities/disabilities, the research firm Gartner thinks otherwise. According to their Accessibility website, which is designed to support Section 508, Gartner mirrors information on a data-centric web site and restricts access to paying customers only after customers ask for access rights nicely.

There are two major issues with Gartner's Accessibility strategy:
  1. Dual infrastructure - Creating virtual mirrors of data is a monumental waste of IT resources, especially when Cascading Style Sheets exist.
  2. Accessibility for a Fee - The notion of limiting the availability of accessible information to only those who are Gartner subscribed customers is morally reprehensible and conflicts with the underlying ideology of accessibility.
Unbelievable. For more information, feel free to contact

October 11, 2006

Google's "Blogger" Accessibility

While blog owners have all the best intentions, we don't always get around to ensuring our blogs meet usability and accessibility standards. This is just one of those truisms that blog platform vendors, like Blogger, should accept and workaround to help us from ourselves.

Here are two quick, incremental feature updates Blogger could implement to help improve the accessibility of the blogs it supports:
  1. Update the "Add Image" feature and enable bloggers to provide alt or longdesc tags from within the same window without modifying the template code directly. This incremental feature, if added, would make it easier for screen readers to provide visually impaired individuals with richer, contextual meaning and improve the user experience.
  2. Parse the height and width attributes from the image added and to ensure consistent performance across browsers and their assistive technology or user agent plugins.

October 10, 2006

Windows Vista UX Guidelines

The team from Redmond have published User Experience Guidelines for application developers looking to leverage new windowing and widget elements found in Vista.

The goals for these UX Guidelines seem to be:
  • Establish a high quality and consistency baseline for all Windows Vista-based applications.
  • Answer specific user experience questions.
  • Make the job of designing 'easier'.
Far be it from me to expound the virtues of a given platform, but, following these guidelines will at least make the job of conforming to Section 508 and W3C accessibility mandates and guidelines much easier as your Vista-based application can more effectively leverage the native widgets and windowing elements of the platform.

Check out the Vista UX Guidelines page on MSDN.

October 06, 2006

Venture Capitalists as ... Crack Dealers?!?

Entrepreneur, former Apple Fellow, author and speaker Guy Kawasaki was in Canada today speaking at the entrepreneur Week exit event. The speech, centered around his book Art of the Start, was a great and candid view of Guy's experiences. I would strongly recommend anyone starting a business, business unit, or even radical project initiative, catch Guy speak whenever you can.

Probably the most humorous take-away from the speech was Guy's answer to question posed by an attendee regarding whether or not startups need venture capital to succeed:
Venture capital money is like crack ... since I'm a venture capitalist ... (that question) is like asking a crack dealer if crack is good. The answer, of course, is that crack is bad.
After getting off the "VCs as Crack Dealers" analogy, Guy got back on track and echoed the sentiments of many venture capitalists. Venture capital funding is one way, not the only way, companies can fund the growth of their business.

Check out Guy's blog at

October 04, 2006

Guy Kawasaki Speaking @ Entrepreneur Week

Guy Kawasaki, Managing Director of Garage Technology Ventures and author of great books like Art of the Start, will be speaking at the Entrepreneur Week Exit Event in Waterloo on October 6, 2006.

While B-schools and business authors preach the use of a handful of paradigms to start and build your business, Guy simply preaches in a way that speaks to ghetto geeks like me.

If you are looking to start or build a new product, department, business unit or company, then do yourself a favor and pickup Art of the Start. Better yet, catch Guy live and pick up his book. It's money well spent.

October 03, 2006

Mobile Digital Content Conference

In the mobile consumer device ecosystem, content is king. It's required to drive loyalty, reduce churn, increase average revenue per user (ARPU) figures, and help recoup infrastructure costs of deploying 3G. Wow. Proliferation of mobile content is an important piece of the puzzle.

Mobile operators and content providers will be landing at the Mobile Digital Content Operations conference next week in Los Angeles to find ways to move mobile content beyond ringtones and into more robust digital content that increase data usage.

We should all hope this conference goes well:-).

Emotion and Usability

Check out the Via Interaction blog posting where Director of Interactive Development, Tim Beidel, talks about the connection between Emotion and Usability citing a Washtington Post article.

This definitely sounds like an area where research and the creation of methodologies are required.