A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Seebach, Peter

13 found.

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Baby Duck Syndrome

What if something neither looks nor quacks like a duck, but users think it is a duck? The cranky user comments on baby duck syndrome and how it can trap users with systems and interfaces that don't really meet their needs.

Seebach, Peter. IBM (2005). Articles>User Interface>Human Computer Interaction>Usability


Bad Design Can Be So Taxing

When people design Web forms, they often overlook some great sources of professional expertise in the world -- the existence of form design techniques with which nearly all users are familiar. This month, the cranky user looks at form design and management.

Seebach, Peter. IBM (2005). Design>Web Design>Forms


Could You Repeat That in English?

Frequently, error messages are totally uninformative -- or, worse, just plain wrong. Here, we look at how meaningful error messages can make it easier for users to correct problems without having to rely on technical support, and how poorly chosen messages can turn users into ex-users.

Seebach, Peter. IBM (2002). Articles>User Interface>Online>Help


Curbing JavaScript Dependency

JavaScript can be used as an enhancement, but too often it ends up rendering a page unusable to people who don't run it. There are a number of good reasons why it might not be running in a given browser, and pages should never depend on it. MSG is a 'flavor enhancer,' with one slight problem -- some people are allergic to it. Most people don't seem to care much either way, but a small number of people seems to have bad reactions to it. If you ask people in the industry who sell it, they'll tell you it's quite safe, but there are others who claim that it's potentially lethal to some (very, very few) people.

Seebach, Peter. IBM (2001). Design>Web Design>Programming>JavaScript


Hardware and Usability, Part 1

Usability studies tend to focus entirely on software, ignoring the impact of hardware design and features on a system's usability. In this first installment of a two-part miniseries, Peter takes a look at the interactions between hardware and usability.

Seebach, Peter. IBM (2004). Articles>Usability>Technology


How Not to Make Your Site Accessible

Web sites are designed by people with fast, powerful computers, modern browsers, IT staff to keep verything running, their choice of software, and local disk storage -- or at worst, a fast network. They are browsed by people with any of a variety of computers, whatever browser the machine shipped with, software that may have been installed by an IT department that thinks Web browsing is counterproductive, and modems. In fact, it's so easy to ignore this gap that it's easier to offer advice for how to flaunt it than it is to give advice for closing it. Following is a set of principles for doing just that -- making your site as inaccessible as possible.

Seebach, Peter. IBM (2001). Design>Web Design>Usability


The Importance of Documentation

Computer documentation is shoddy, or more often absent. Missing information amplifies usability problems, leaving users stuck calling unfriendly technical support lines. In this installment of The cranky user, Peter Seebach explains what's missing in the documentation effort and why it is gone.

Seebach, Peter. IBM (2003). Articles>Documentation>Usability


The Principle of Least Astonishment

When computers are at their most usable, we don't even notice them; when they are at their least, they astonish us. Here, Peter explores the Principle of Least Astonishment, and how it can help you develop better interfaces.

Seebach, Peter. IBM (2001). Design>Web Design>User Centered Design


Respecting User Privacy

We'll look at why privacy is a much-abused buzzword. The e-commerce industry has failed miserably to produce consumer confidence; not because we haven't tried to do so, but because we've done it through dog-and-pony shows, rather than real respect for personal data. It is particularly crucial to note, in this context, that not everything that is legal is acceptable. We discuss the basic principles of an effective privacy policy: It must be short and readable, and the customer must like it.

Seebach, Peter. IBM (2001). Articles>Usability>Privacy


The Stateless State

"State" is a central concern of all sorts of distributed applications, but especially of Web applications, as HTTP and its derivatives are intrinsically stateless. Clear thinking about how data persists across retrievals, sessions, processes, and other boundaries can help you improve your Web applications, both present and future.

Seebach, Peter. IBM (2008). Articles>Web Design>Theory


Usability off the Beaten Path

Keyboards, mice, windows--essentially, they have the same design. This month, the cranky user explores options that have looked beyond the box for innovative designs that users can really use.

Seebach, Peter. IBM (2006). Articles>Usability


What Ever Happened to Web Engineering?

Does it ever occur to you that today's Web developers could learn a thing or two from traditional computer programming? The cranky user talks about the foundations of software engineering and asks where in the Web those best practices have disappeared to.

Seebach, Peter. IBM (2007). Articles>Web Design>Programming


What's With the Attitude?

When users complain about sites, webmasters frequently respond with hostility, derision, condescension, or just plain silence. No wonder users rarely bother to complain. Bad attitudes stand between the site you created and the site your users want to use.

Seebach, Peter. IBM (2001). Design>Web Design>Correspondence>User Centered Design

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