Monday, June 23, 2008

time at DRD

at the end of this week, the new website of drdvietnam.com is published. working with Peter is fun, although some misunderstanding between me and Peter.

It is a long story and I can't tell but I respect Peter, like my teacher, who teach me a lot.

It's not just technical problems, but more than that.

That 's the honor about yourself, others and about we need to think on relationship between people and people. DRD is non-profit organization, not working for business, they working for the rights for disable people.

I love the job, working as volunteer at DRD, 8 months is long time.

Design a software for normal use is hard, for people but they can't hear you, or see you is very hard. still a lot of thing to learn, usability is hot subject in human computer interaction. As you know, software is for human use, not for computer run.

If you can visit drdvietnam.com, you can feel it not beautiful, it's so simple, right ?

keep is simple as possible but not simpler, maybe is the idea of Peter. yeah, this layout is design for some screen reader, which can do text-to-speech. They read all words on the page with high structure, for whom can not read, visual impairment.

This weekend is over internship time at DRD, but still I still work when I'm free. The intern time is over like that, so sad.

My thesis for DRD is the another story. maybe begin in August.

and now focus on my job. I like social networking subject. still lots of challenge ahead




Designing online social networks: The theories of social groups

Online communities (facilitated by Web 2.0) have become very important over the past few years - not only to niche communities, but now to mainstream brands. Social networking is about human connection and links between people. The reasons why people join groups and social networks are typically that groups can:

  • Provide encouragement and support
  • Establish identity with others and fulfil the need to feel included
  • Provide the outlet for some people to establish their need for recognition, social status, control and/or leadership
  • Alternatively, provide the necessary control over aspects of lives for those who don't want to be leaders (e.g. Weight Watchers)
  • Help establish friends, relationships and the opportunity to interact with others

Historically group membership has served an evolutionary survival function - put simply, there's safety in numbers

There's been much research into group psychology but not so much about how this applies to a marketer trying to monetise an online community or introduce one to their brand. Here are some interesting phenomena about groups designed to help a brand owner capitalise on networks and the social phenomena:

Social comparison

Social comparison theory suggests that we form our own attitudes and behaviours by comparing ourselves with other people and their opinions. Mostly we compare ourselves against people whom we believe we're reasonably similar to.

Facebook8 capitalises on people's drive for social comparison by offering a plethora of applications like the visual bookshelf that lets you see what books your peers are reading and the 'Compare me' application that allows you to find out where you stand relative to your friends for various categories like cutest, sexiest and smartest. This is very similar to the surveys often found in women's magazines - 'How emotionally intelligent are you? Take our quiz to find out!' It's compelling to benchmark ourselves against others to see where we fit in.

Ecommerce sites can capitalise on this by offering 'most popular' products so site visitors can see what others have purchased. Amazon offers 'Customers with similar searches also purchased' which is along the same theme.

Real group feedback is also extremely helpful and often more trusted than 'official' comment. For example LOVEFiLM9 displays the Radio Times film review followed by those from ordinary members. Similarly, the 'Study buddy' application (now discontinued) let students see when their fellow students are studying which allows them to compare themselves and so shape their decisions and behaviours accordingly.

Social learning theory

Social learning theory is a broad theory developed by the psychologist Albert Bandura. The premise is that people learn new attitudes by observing others and noting the consequences of these actions. If those observed are rewarded positively then those observing are more likely to behave in the same way.

Observing others succeed and being able to interact with them is hugely encouraging. Sites that are designed to highlight success and which reward people succeeding set up a strong social learning dynamic. For example, QuitNet.com10, a site for those who want to stop smoking, highlights success stories throughout the site and provides a discussion forum for interaction.

Similarly, Tesco Diets.com11 displays many success stories to reinforce positive behaviours. Ebay distinguishes successful sellers by providing top seller status and Amazon has top reviewers, offering both prestige and status as reward.

Social facilitation

As humans, we perform better when being observed or in groups - this is because we're concerned about our social image and how others perceive us. Sports psychologists have known this for years and it explains why top sports people are often lifted by the crowd to give world record-breaking performances at big events.

Interestingly, the opposite is true for tasks that we find difficult. For example, when being watched better pool players get better, whilst novices get worse (source: ChangingMinds.org12).

This social facilitation phenomenon extends to virtual presence of others too. For online behaviour this means people might strive to lose more weight if connected to a virtual health facility where others can see them, compared to going it alone. Or someone might bid more on an online auction if they know others can see what they're doing.

The virtual presence of feeling watched is enough to positively change behaviours.

Social conformance

Also known as peer pressure, people may change their attitudes and behaviours to match the expectations of their peer group. If they don't agree then they face being ostracised by the group.

Social acceptance is a huge driving force and the threat of rejection from a group is often enough to change people's behaviour. This obviously extends to online groups too. People making inappropriate remarks in an online group discussion would quickly need to change their behaviour or find themselves out in the cold. Social sites should offer group members the option to flag unsuitable content.

Conclusion

When designing online communities or group websites, it's necessary to understand the underlying psychology of human group behaviour. Armed with this knowledge you stand a much better chance of delivering an effective site that supports interaction between users.

Provided you listen to your customers, concentrate on offering a first class service and win people over then you can let the social networking machine work it's magic - namely to broadcast information freely and easily (both positive and negative) about your brand. A friend-to-friend recommendation is the strongest endorsement a company can possibly have.

And, as with any Web 2.0 application, don't rush into creating social networks for the sake of it - get the basics right first. Find out what communities are saying about your brand and engage with your customers.

This article was written by Lisa Halabi. Lisa's crazy about usability - so crazy that she's head of usability at Webcredible, an industry leading user experience consultancy13, helping to make the Internet a better place for everyone. She can often be found developing information architecture14 and is extremely talented at writing for the web3.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lessons form Google

This post is copy from http://www.google.com/intl/en/corporate/ux.html
I post at my blog for the future use and I need some cookbook(@my blog) for my work


Google's aspirations

The Google User Experience team aims to create designs that are useful, fast, simple, engaging, innovative, universal, profitable, beautiful, trustworthy, and personable. Achieving a harmonious balance of these ten principles is a constant challenge. A product that gets the balance right is "Googley" – and will satisfy and delight people all over the world.

Ten principles that contribute to a Googley user experience

1. Focus on peopletheir lives, their work, their dreams.

The Google User Experience team works to discover people's actual needs, including needs they can't always articulate. Armed with that information, Google can create products that solve real-world problems and spark the creativity of all kinds of people. Improving people's lives, not just easing step-by-step tasks, is our goal.

Above all, a well-designed Google product is useful in daily life. It doesn't try to impress users with its whizbang technology or visual style though it might have both. It doesn't strong-arm people to use features they don't want but it does provide a natural growth path for those who are interested. It doesn't intrude on people's lives but it does open doors for users who want to explore the world's information, work more quickly and creatively, and share ideas with their friends or the world.

2. Every millisecond counts.

Nothing is more valuable than people's time. Google pages load quickly, thanks to slim code and carefully selected image files. The most essential features and text are placed in the easiest-to-find locations. Unnecessary clicks, typing, steps, and other actions are eliminated. Google products ask for information only once and include smart defaults. Tasks are streamlined.

Speed is a boon to users. It is also a competitive advantage that Google doesn't sacrifice without good reason.

3. Simplicity is powerful.

Simplicity fuels many elements of good design, including ease of use, speed, visual appeal, and accessibility. But simplicity starts with the design of a product's fundamental functions. Google doesn't set out to create feature-rich products; our best designs include only the features that people need to accomplish their goals. Ideally, even products that require large feature sets and complex visual designs appear to be simple as well as powerful.

Google teams think twice before sacrificing simplicity in pursuit of a less important feature. Our hope is to evolve products in new directions instead of just adding more features.

4. Engage beginners and attract experts.

Designing for many people doesn't mean designing for the lowest common denominator. The best Google designs appear quite simple on the surface but include powerful features that are easily accessible to those users who want them. Our intent is to invite beginners with a great initial experience while also attracting power users whose excitement and expertise will draw others to the product.

A well-designed Google product lets new users jump in, offers help when necessary, and ensures that users can make simple and intuitive use of the product's most valuable features. Progressive disclosure of advanced features encourages people to expand their usage of the product. Whenever appropriate, Google offers smart features that entice people with complex online lives – for instance, people who share data across several devices and computers, work online and off, and crave storage space.

5. Dare to innovate.

Design consistency builds a trusted foundation for Google products, makes users comfortable, and speeds their work. But it is the element of imagination that transforms designs from ho-hum to delightful.

Google encourages innovative, risk-taking designs whenever they serve the needs of users. Our teams encourage new ideas to come out and play. Instead of just matching the features of existing products, Google wants to change the game.

6. Design for the world.

The World Wide Web has opened all the resources of the Internet to people everywhere. For example, many users are exploring Google products while strolling with a mobile device, not sitting at a desk with a personal computer. Our goal is to design products that are contextually relevant and available through the medium and methods that make sense to users. Google supports slower connections and older browsers when possible, and Google allows people to choose how they view information (screen size, font size) and how they enter information (smart query parsing). The User Experience team researches the fundamental differences in user experiences throughout the world and works to design the right products for each audience, device, and culture. Simple translation, or "graceful degradation" of a feature set, isn't sufficient to meet people's needs.

Google is also committed to improving the accessibility of its products. Our desire for simple and inclusive products, and Google's mission to make the world's information universally accessible, demand products that support assistive technologies and provide a useful and enjoyable experience for everyone, including those with physical and cognitive limitations.

7. Plan for today's and tomorrow's business.

Those Google products that make money strive to do so in a way that is helpful to users. To reach that lofty goal, designers work with product teams to ensure that business considerations integrate seamlessly with the goals of users. Teams work to make sure ads are relevant, useful, and clearly identifiable as ads. Google also takes care to protect the interests of advertisers and others who depend on Google for their livelihood.

Google never tries to increase revenue from a product if it would mean reducing the number of Google users in the future. If a profitable design doesn't please users, it's time to go back to the drawing board. Not every product has to make money, and none should be bad for business.

8. Delight the eye without distracting the mind.

If people looked at a Google product and said "Wow, that's beautiful!" the User Experience team would cheer. A positive first impression makes users comfortable, assures them that the product is reliable and professional, and encourages people to make the product their own.

A minimalist aesthetic makes sense for most Google products because a clean, clutter-free design loads quickly and doesn't distract users from their goals. Visually appealing images, color, and fonts are balanced against the needs for speed, scannable text, and easy navigation. Still, "simple elegance" is not the best fit for every product. Audience and cultural context matter. A Google product's visual design should please its users and improve usability for them.

9. Be worthy of people's trust.

Good design can go a long way to earn the trust of the people who use Google products. Establishing Google's reliability starts with the basics for example, making sure the interface is efficient and professional, actions are easily reversed, ads are clearly identified, terminology is consistent, and users are never unhappily surprised. In addition, Google products open themselves to the world by including links to competitors and encouraging user contributions such as community maps or iGoogle gadgets.

A greater challenge is to make sure that Google demonstrates respect for users' right to own and control their own data. Google is transparent about how it uses information and never shares data outside Google without a user's explicit consent. Our products warn users about such dangers as insecure connections, different privacy policies on other websites, actions that may make users vulnerable to spam, or the possibility that data shared outside Google may be stored elsewhere. Google is reassuring but truthful about data sharing so that users can make informed choices. The larger Google becomes, the more essential it is to live up to our "Don't be evil" motto.

10. Add a human touch.

Google includes a wide range of personalities, and our designs have personality, too. Text and design elements are friendly, quirky, and smart and not boring, close-minded, or arrogant. Google text talks directly to people and offers the same practical, informal assistance that anyone would offer to a neighbor who asked a question. And Google doesn't let fun or personality interfere with other elements of a design, especially when people's livelihood, or their ability to find vital information, is at stake.

Google doesn't know everything, and no design is perfect. Our products ask for feedback, and Google acts on that feedback. When practicing these design principles, the Google User Experience team seeks the best possible balance in the time available for each product. Then the cycle of iteration, innovation, and improvement continues.