Metrics, usability testing and psychology research road to success?

Robert Hoekman, Jr, is interviewed in issue 218 of .net magazine. He’s the founder of and author of “Designing the Obvious“. He answers the question of how to get into user’s mind:

“…metrics: you can learn a lot about human behavior by looking at the factual numbers of what they’re doing”.

“…through usability testing”.

“…studying psychology”. “There are all sorts of research papers about how people act and why…”

“So between psychology metrics and usability testing you build a sixth sense about it, almost”.

Metrics, usability testing and research on psychology. I do agree but the problem is that metrics oftenly is done maybe by the SEO consultant and usability testing by the UX designer and checking up research papers in psychology was something you had time for at university. The designer, if you call him UX designer or information architect, should do a bit of all these things and if he or she gets time to complement usability testing with interviews or naturalistic observation it would be great.


Interview with Jon “Mad dog” Hall from last year

Yes, this is an interview from last year but still interesting. Or isn’t everything older than three month just obsolete ;-) Lars Danielsson from Computer Sweden interviewed John “Mad dog” Hall, excutive director at Linux International. Here’s a short transcript from the live interview September 5, 2006:

LD:What is the single most important issue to use open source software?

JH:“Control. Control over your business, control over your software. Software used to be a luxury. People could afford not to have control over it because if the software didn’t work the way they want it to they could revert back to other methods within their business, but business is so important and software is so important in your business. You have to have control over it. You have to be able to get the fixes as you need, when you need them and not when it’s convenient for the producer of the software to create that fixes”.

Richard Stallman and his view on freedom of the press

I just read an interesting column by Lars Danielsson in Computer Sweden today 14 May 2007. He was planning an interview with Richard Stallman, founder om gpl, and other things. But Stallman made demands that CS had to use the word GNU/Linux instead of Linux and not to use the concept open source. That to show Stallman works with free software. Journalist Danielsson says he of course could quote his opinions on this concepts, but to push him as a journalist to use not generally accepted concepts is nothing but “manipulation”, according to Danielsson. I do agree! Cred’s to Danielsson and Computer Sweden.

Guus from Netherlands on the importance of being user-focused

When I saw the title of Guus van den Brekels speech I thought this guy must be on the same line as I. The title was: Into the user enviroment now!: How the users have changed and how the libraries can adjust, presented 9.30 Friday 15 September at Plenary Session III at the Eahil conference in Cluj-Napoca, 2006.

And sure he was. I’ve been around Sweden and Norway talking about the effects of the Googlification and the new user behaviors. I also had a column in swedish mag Internetworld with title (title translated to english): The challenger of Google is there in your municipality. Guus had some solutions on this, so let’s hear.

Guus described the new user as a person who is fascinated by new technolgies, want to be interactive (not isolated), no tolerance of delay, want to stay connected, learning by doing and not by being told, trial-and-error approach, actions more important than knowledge, multitasking as a way of life.

A really good summary of the new user as I see it.
-Students say: Why do I need the OPAC, Google gives me enough, meant Guus.
-We have to know that we’re not the only one for the user. The user demands more today. People like web 2.0 services so we have to keep up with what they’re doing, meant Guus.

So what to do Guus?

On short term he meant we have to use web 2.0 social software, open standards and protocols, evaluate log file statistics, modular web-based library services etc

He suggested LiveTrix instead (if I understood LiveTrix functions right?) of proprietary library portal Metalib to metasearch several sources.

Guus had 10 top technologies for the library to embrace:Weblogs, RSS, Wikis, Instant Messaging, Podcasting, Open source software, SMS, Social software, User-created content, Mashing-up services.

In the end he showed us the QuickSearch Library Toolbar. Search toolbars have been common for a while now and a lot of users know about them as I experienced it. Guus and his library in Groningen, Netherlands, has made their own toolbar that gives the user fast access to a lot of sources from the library. Just install that toolbar into your webbrowser. The QuickSearch toolbar is built upon Conduit toolbar. The toolbar he showed the audience made a lot of them very interested.

-My boss doesn’t like when I say problems, he calls it challenges, said Guus.
I had a two minutes chat with him afterwards and asked him if it’s not better with Firefox extensions and their embedded serch toolbar where you can add your self-built search engine?

– You should use all options if the medical students like it, not just toolbars. Younger students like things like this and I think even older users will discover web 2.0 services, said Guus diplomatic.

Nice talk! I read in his e-mail afterwards when sending us the link to the power point that he already got some offerings on doing more talks in different places. Good luck! Spread your thoughts in the library world.

Read also Guus blog Digicmb. Here’s an interview with Guus by Oliver Obst.

Oliver Obst tallking on blogs

I listened to the talk by Oliver Obst Thursday September 1 10.30-11.30 about “Use of weblogs by libraries and librarians”. He asked the audience how many knew about blogs and maybe half didn’t know anything.

He made an brief, easy explanation of how to start a blog with the blog web service Blogger owned by Google in just three steps. How to choose temple, write blog entry title and content, how you could choose fonts and font-size easily, similar to a word editor. Also showed how a set up of a blog in WordPress blog service just will take 5 minutes. Gave credits to WordPress for all plugins you can use and the category function which means you can subject index your blog entries, just like subject indexing library books. Something librarians should like, said Obst. He thought WordPress was bit better than Blogger because it’s easier to use for example the function with Categories, otherwise Blogger is easier.

He also told us what a blog is: organized chronically by date, updated somewhat regulary with relatively short entries, use unique URL called permalink for all entries, filtering the information universe for readers, self-archives, provides an RSS-link.

So what do blogs do for you according to Obst? For example they repack info and keep you alerted with what’s new.

He further showed a lot of examples on library blogs.

Pro’s with blogs according to Obst were: don’t need to know HTML or editing program, update from everywhere, helps stay current and con’s were of course information overload. He finished also to explain what RSS is and what it’s good for.

After the talk we meet outside on the steps and I got an interview.

German librarian Oliver Obst

Do you have statistics on how much library blogs is used by non-librarians?
-No, but my german Medinfo blog are used heavily by scientists because I write about OA. We don’t have many german blog sources like Medinfo.

But what do your boss say about your blogging during work?
– I can blog if it just don’t eat up my other duties. Medinfo was put up because the german medical libraries association thought we should have one.

So you think library bosses should promote librarians to blog during work to filter information?
-Yes, for library news to inform clients of what’s happening for example. Our library though have no blog. I asked my user if they wanted a blog with RSS and they didn’t know what RSS was and they said: No please, we rather want same email newsletter as before.

So how do you use your blog?
-Often I go back to my blog just finding the information I didn’t remeber. It’s like a backup memory!

Update: A then a little bird whispered in my ear: he is a boss ;-) of medical branch Library at ULB, Münster, since 1996. BTW here you find Olivers talk in PDF.