In usability we trust

UX and all things web

Author: Gabriel Svennerberg (page 3 of 5)

ListDJ – song lyrics in Spotify

ListDJ is an add on to Spotify that displays the lyrics of the song you’re currently listen to. I’m the kind of guy who thinks that the lyrics of a song is important, so this i perfect for me.

The add on docks itself to the side of the main Spotify application window. From when I’ve tried it, it finds most lyrics, but there are some that aren’t available.

ListDJ have been developed by a friend and college of mine, Fredrik Danielsson. To read more and to download it, visit www.listdj.se. The add on is completely free but is currently only available on the Windows platform.

Announcing MapTooltip

One of the shortcomings in the Google Maps API is that there’s no easy way to add tooltips to polylines and polygons. That’s why I felt inclined to build an extension to Google Maps that adds that functionality. MapTooltip makes it possible to add tooltips to any kind of overlay. It’s even possible to have HTML inside it and to style it to fit your design needs.

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Updating images with Javascript

This is a quicktip on how to update images on a webpage that retain the same filename but is periodically updated, without having to perform a full page load.

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Free e-book chapter on ASP.NET MVC Framework

If you’re into ASP.NET MVC then you should definitely check out this free chapter from the upcoming Wrox book Professional ASP.NET MVC 1.0. The chapter is a 185 page long tutorial on how to build a complete web application with the Framework.

The ASP.NET MVC Framework is still in beta (RC2) but is going to ship any day now. That’s good for me since I’ve built a web application with it that will go live pretty soon.

Download the chapter.

Read more on Scott Guthries blog.


Non-modal alert with jQuery

jquery-logoIn circumstances where you want to notify the user of something, like for example that some information have been saved, a non-modal alert is an excellent solution. It gets your message across without being intrusive and without the need for uneccesary user interaction.

In this article I will describe how to create it with the help of jQuery

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Creating a Submenu in WordPress

For a project I’m currently working on I wanted to create a submenu that included the parent page as well as the supbages. I just wanted to display the submenu only if the parent page had subpages. Searching the WordPress Codex and googling for a solution I couldn’t quite find an example that took all these factors into consideration so I had to figure it out myself. Here’s the approach I came up with.

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The rise of Zooming User Interfaces

The first time I ever read anything about Zooming User Interfaces was when I was reading The Humane Interface by Jef Raskin, where he introduced the concept of Zoom World, a whole OS based on a Zooming User Interface (ZUI). Of course this wasn’t my first encounter with this type of user interface since I’ve, among other things, been using Interactive maps like Google Maps. But it was the first time that I started considering a Zooming Interface a viable alternative to the traditional interaction idioms.

In this article I will explore some of the Zooming User Interfaces out there today and also take a sneak peak of what’s around the corner.

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Global variables in Javascript

Global variables are evil. Although possibly nifty for very small programs it quickly clutters the global namespace and increase the risk for name collisions as are program grows larger. The risk for collisions are even greater when using different libraries and widgets.

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Twitter is exploding

Is it just me or is Twitter exploding right now? Apart from noticing that I got more followers the last days, I’ve also noticed that several Twitter services such as Tweetburner and Mr. Tweet has been down for maintenance. That might be a sign of overload!

At a seminar I attended last week on Social Media one of the speakers Johan Ronnestam said that the reason Twitter is exploding right now is Barack Obama successful use of it during his election campaign. Every marketer worth his salt has now studied the phenomena and is busy trying to get everyone at their companies to use Twitter.

Today I also learned that Dalai Lama is now on Twitter. Watch his profile at @OHHDL. Pretty soon everyone will be on board, I’m just waiting to find my mothers Twitter profile! 🙂

If you want to join the trend, follow me on Twitter!

Update

Dalai Lama is now following me on Twitter! Even though I realize that it’s probably not Dalai Lama himself following me but rather someone administrating it for him, I can’t help thinking that it’s pretty cool!

Update 2

Dalai Lama was apparently a fake. That’s too bad because he was quickly becoming the most popular person on Twitter. Read all about it at the Next Web.

Working with Info Windows in Google Maps

Google Maps APIHaving Info Windows in a Google Maps is a powerful way of displaying information about a specific point or object. Did you know that there are several kinds of them?

In this article I will show you how to add different kinds of Info Windows that appear when you click on a marker.

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How Spotify have changed the way I listen to music

SpotifyA while I go I wrote an article called Spotify is right on the spot where I described a service called Spotify that let’s you listen to music over the Internet. I was impressed of how well it worked and of how good the music player was.

I’ve been using Spotify for about four months now and that has been four month of more intense music consumption than usual for me. I’ve noticed that Spotify has made me listen to music in new ways.

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Different approaches to communicate UX design

Peter Morville at Semantic Studios has compiled an extensive list of ways to create deliverables to communicate uX designs. He writes about this in User Experience Deliverables.

The article contains a list of 20 techniques with links to further reading on each. To make it easier to find suitable techniques he also made a Treasure Map (pdf) so it’s easier to see what your options are. Or as Peter himself put it:

It’s hard to find the best trees when we can’t see the forest. So, we often fall back on old habits. We churn out wireframes when a story may be worth its weight in gold. Some great deliverables stay hidden in plain sight. That’s why we created this treasure map for our wall (and yours).

– Peter Morville

The Design of Future Things [Book review]

The Design of Future ThingsI’ve read a few books by Don Norman before and they have all been a great source of inspiration and full of “Aha” moments. This book doesn’t quite reach that same level, but I still find it an interesting read.

The book is basically about how to design intelligent things. Some call it ambient computing others discrete computing, but it’s all about the pitfalls and principles when we try to add intelligence to our daily objects.

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Handling Large Amounts of Markers in Google Maps

Google MapsTo use markers in Google Maps is fairly trivial, at least when you have a reasonable amount of them. But once you have more than a few hundred of them, performance quickly starts to degrade. In this article I will show you a few approaches to speed up performance. I’ve also put together a test page to compare them.

Update [2009-05-06]:This article has been updated with the addition of the utility library MarkerClusterer. The test results in the end of the article and the test page has also been revised.

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Most popular articles of 2008

2008 was the first year of this blog. It has been really interesting and it’s encouraging to see that the number of readers is steadily increasing. Thanks to all of you who has read and commented on my articles. A big reason for me running this blog is to learn more about the stuff I write about and your comments and feedback contributes to that goal.

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I’m going on vacation

Tomorrow I’m going on vacation to Duved, a ski resort in Sweden right next to Åre that has killer slopes. We’re going to ski every day, celebrate Christmas and just have a really good time. It’s going to be so nice to get away for a while.

That also means that I’m not going to write any articles or answer any comments this week, but I’ll be back again after Christmas with lots of new article ideas.


Ski map of Åre, courtesy of www.skimap.info.

View from the hills of Åre. Photo by: december_snowdrift

Happy holidays everyone, I hope you have a good one!

Page Load Times vs Conversion Rates

I recently read Andy B. King’s book Website Optimization and was surprised by some of the statistics in it. It shows that there’s a very clear connection between page load times and conversion rates. Statistics from Google and Amazon show that an increase in load time has a direct and profound impact on user engagement.

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Basic operations with markers in Google Maps

Google MapsMarkers is one of the core features in Google Maps and an effective way of displaying places on a map. In this article I will show you how to add a basic marker to a map and also how to add some interactivity to it.

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Website Optimization [Book Review]

Website OptimizationBack in 2003 Andy King published his first book: Speed Up Your Site. It was my first encounter with optimization of HTML and CSS, something that in recent years have been recognized as an important field by, among others, the YUI team. Now in 2008 Andy is back with a new book, but this time with a much broader scope. Website Optimization is not just about speeding up your site, it’s about optimizing it in several different areas. Everything from Search Engine Optimization and Creating the perfect USP to Optimizing page load times and measuring performance is covered.

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Unobtrusive Google Maps

When developing web applications we can never be sure what the environment for the user is. He could for example use our application from a mobile device with a browser with limited Javascript support. Like Roger Johansson pointed out in Making Google Maps more accessible, we must prevent our applications from breaking under these circumstances by making them degrade gracefully.

In this article I will show you how to make Google Maps degrade gracefully by providing a fallback for non-javascript users using the Google Static Maps API.

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Simple maps with the Google Static Maps API

Google Static Maps API is an easy way to provide a map when the user doesn’t have Javascript available. Sure it’s not near as powerful as the full Google Maps API but still, it can provide you with a basic map that can contain both markers and paths.

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How people really use the iPhone

Strategic research and design firm Create with Context has published a presentation on SlideShare showing what they’ve come up with after evaluating the iPhones User Interface. The research goal was to understand how ordinary people interact with the iPhone.

The methods used were interviews, user testing in a lab environment and heuristic evaluation. The result of the research was eight rules of thumb when developing applications for the iPhone.

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Webworkers Meet on Application Security

WebworkersLast night Peter Bayer from Combitech held a talk on Application Security for a Network I’m affiliated with called Webworkers.

Peter is an experienced Technical Security Adviser that apart from doing vulnerability assessments, penetration tests and IT forensics also teaches application security on security courses. Right now Peter is writing a chapter about secure programming in a Swedish security book that will be published during the spring of 2009.

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Spotify is right on the spot

SpotifyI’ve been using the beta web service Spotify for a couple of months now. And I must say that I’m really impressed. I would almost go as far as to say it’s the best piece of software I have ever used.

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Populating Google Maps with Microformats revisited

A few month ago I posted about a demo where I used content marked up with Microformats to populate a Google map using Javascript. Well, now I’ve improved that demo somewhat.

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Report from World Usability Day

World Usability Day - Making life easy!

On World Usability Day on 13 of November we gathered a bunch of people to put focus on usability. The event which we called A nice cup of coffee on Usability Day, was held at my former employer, Visma Spcs office in Växjö. Chris Jangelöv was host for the event.

Here’s some pictures taken by from the event along with some comments. The pictures are taken by Ola Karlsson. Thanks a lot Ola!

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A Nice Cup of Coffe on Usability Day

This Thursday (November 13) is World Usability Day. It’s an event that takes place at different locations around the globe each year to put the spotlight on usability in our daily lives.

World Usability Day - Making life easy!

Here in Växjö, Sweden we’re going to celebrate this with a get together where I’m going to talk a little about usability in general and a few others are going to talk about specific usability problems and solutions. Other than that we’re just going to have a nice cup of coffee, some cookies and a nice chat. The event takes place at Visma Spcs at 15.00 and will last for about one and a half hour.

If you’re in the area and are interested in participating, sign up by leaving a comment or by contacting me through this blog’s contact page. It’s completely free of charge but you have to let us know in advance that you’re coming.

Polylines in Google Maps [Part 2]

In part 1 I showed how to use and optimize performance on polylines in Google Maps using Javascript. In this article I will show you how to get even better performance by encoding the polylines on the server.

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Shopping for groceries in style

Conchango is developing a shopping system for the British grocery store Tesco. It’s supposed to help customers when buying/ordering food and has a graphically rich interface.

I’m for one hate shopping for groceries. If I could have a system like this that remembers what groceries I normally buy and suggests a shopping list according to my dinner plans, I would be more than delighted. In fact, if I didn’t even had to physically go to the grocery store, I would be even more delighted.

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