A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Baker, Adam

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An Alternative to Banner Ads

Banner ads are not a particularly useful way of getting people to 'click', but inserting a plain vanilla link just might be.

Baker, Adam. Merges.net (2001). Design>Web Design>Marketing>Usability


Are Standards-Compliant Websites Better?

The adhoc way in which much of the web was developed has created a dilemma for web designers: should websites comply with standards, ensuring accessibility, or break the rules and work with older browsers? At this moment, the answer is simple: Websites should work with older browsers.

Baker, Adam. Merges.net (2001). Design>Web Design>Standards>Usability


Better Flash Websites

Alhough Flash has some intrinsic usability problems, designers can respect user expectations about consistency, accessibility, and common sense, and therefore make better Flash websites.

Baker, Adam. Merges.net (2001). Design>Multimedia>Interactive>Flash


Common Automotive Interaction Design Mistakes

People spend a great deal of time driving their cars, so cars should be as easy to use, and as effective as possible. However, most cars are filled with common design mistakes that are annoyances at the least, and often downright dangerous.

Baker, Adam. Merges.net (2001). Design>User Interface>Usability


Effective Use of Forms on Websites

People don't like filling out forms in the real world, and especially not while using the web. Forms are complicated, distracting, and take control away from the user. That is, unless they're designed effectively.

Baker, Adam. Merges.net (2001). Design>Web Design>Forms


Engineers Make Obvious Design Mistakes

The engineers who build the products people use every day are not experts in user behaviour, and they frequently make mistakes that cause lost time and immeasurable frustration. Interaction designers could improve thousands upon thousands of products, leaving engineers to deal with the areas of their interest and experience.

Baker, Adam. Merges.net (2001). Design>User Interface>Engineering>User Centered Design


How to Make URLs User-Friendly

One of the worst elements of the web from a user interface standpoint is the URL. However, if they're short, logical, and self-correcting, URLs can be acceptably usable.

Baker, Adam. Merges.net (2001). Design>Web Design>User Centered Design>Usability


How to Make Wireless Directory Services Useful

Wireless directory services need to recognize both the limitations and the benefits of mobile phones, by making search results more to-the-point and context-sensitive.

Baker, Adam. Merges.net (2001). Articles>Information Design>Mobile


Learning From Photoshop's "Variations" Tool

Adobe has been using one of the most effective contemporary goal-oriented interactive mechanisms for years, and a lot of product designers should have been paying attention. It is, of course, the 'Variations' tool.

Baker, Adam. Merges.net (2001). Articles>User Interface>Human Computer Interaction


Meaningful Personalization

Websites, software, and consumer products should be customizable, but that customization must be more than mere 'coolness.' Personalization should make users more effective by helping them reach their goals.

Baker, Adam. Merges.net (2001). Design>Web Design>Personalization


More Website Manner Tips

Custom error pages are better than stock error pages, and there are even better practical solutions that may eliminate the need for custom error pages to begin with.

Baker, Adam and Keith Instone. Merges.net (2001). Articles>Web Design>Usability


Pliant Response for Websites

Users need feedback from websites. Buttons, links, and other interactive elements should respond to elementary user input. All web designers probably try to account for user feedback, especially in controls like buttons and links, but a lot of websites have strange ways of letting the user know what he can or can't do. There are some de facto standards from the software visual interface world that apply to web design, as well as a few guidelines that make pliant response more effective.

Baker, Adam. Merges.net (2001). Design>Web Design>Usability


Push and Pop on the Web

One of the needs that HyperCard's designers envisioned was one of remembering where a user had been in a document, and returning the user to that location after he had interrupted their flow for some other purpose. The mechanism to fulfill this need was called 'push and pop.' The document designer could easily implement push and pop, so that if a user left a certain location in the document to do some other task, he could be returned to that location when the other task was finished. Thus, a user could interrupt his browsing to fill out a form, or do something else, but could easily get back to browsing.

Baker, Adam. Merges.net (2001). Design>Web Design>Information Design


Simplicity Costs Less and Works Better

If ordinary people have to use it, make it simple. You'll be doing your users a favour, and saving money too.

Baker, Adam. Merges.net (2001). Articles>Usability>User Centered Design


Take Advantage of Technology

Use technology to simplify existing processes, and take advantage of what users already understand.

Baker, Adam. Merges.net (2001). Design>Web Design>User Interface


Text on Websites

Website text should be clear, links should stand out, and all text should scale according to user preferences.

Baker, Adam. Merges.net (2001). Design>Web Design>User Interface>User Centered Design


Tips for Practical Newsletter Design

Good newsletters, both HTML and plain text, explain themselves clearly and are focused, well-written information sources.

Baker, Adam. Merges.net (2001). Articles>Document Design>Journalism>Newsletters


Website Navigation is Useful

Although users tend to navigate websites by search mechanisms or by links embedded in actual content, website navigation serves useful purposes.

Baker, Adam. Merges.net (2001). Design>Web Design>Information Design>Usability


Website Posture and Manner

The way a website presents itself to users is a key aspect of user experience. Effective websites don't interrupt user flow, which is guaranteed largely by posture (how the website uses available resources, particularly visual), and manner (how the website 'talks' to users).

Baker, Adam. Merges.net (2001). Design>Web Design>Writing>Rhetoric

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