In usability we trust

UX and all things web

Category: Quick tips

Use the optgroup element for select lists with sections

One thing that surprises me is that while there is a perfectly valid and easy way of providing a select list that’s divided into sections, it’s seldom used. Instead extra <option> elements are often inserted as dividers, or worse, convoluted JavaScript solutions that emulates this behavior with generic markup and complicated CSS.

The simple, perfectly valid and accessible solution is to use the <optgroup> element. It’s used for grouping <option> elements in a <select> list into sections. It’s perfectly safe to use since it’s supported across all browsers.

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Stripes – An interesting Operating System Concept

I’ve just discovered an interesting concept for a new Operating System. The concept is the brain child of Martin Gimpl and is a part of his master thesis on computer interaction. It uses a zooming interface for windows management and introduces several interesting concepts. In the short video below, Martin shows some of the core concepts. It is well worth checking out.

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A List Aparts annual survey

This is starting to be a tradition. For the third year in a row A list apart is conducting a survey for people who make websites. The purpose of the survey is to see how our profession is practiced worldwide.

Last year over 30.000 people took the survey and A List Apart has made the results publicly available. Check it out! It’s a pretty interesting read.

I took the survey, and so should you! So head over there and answer the questions. It only takes about 5 minutes.

I took it an so should you - The survey for people who makes websites

Mobile First Person User Interfaces

The mobile devices are getting increasingly sophisticated. With the combination of GPS, compass, camera, Internet Connection and a big screen it’s now possible to create amazing, context aware, first Person UI’s. Imaging for a moment that you’re in a foreign city, standing in front of a statue that you never seen before. Point your mobile phone at it and it will tell you what it is, who built it etc, imposing the information as a layer over the reality.

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Javascript Performance Tips

I just found this really great talk on YouTube from a Google Tech Talk called, Speed Up Your JavaScript. It’s a guy from Yahoo named Nicholas Zakas that talks about various things you can do to get better performance in you Javascripts.

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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 The add on is completely free but is currently only available on the Windows platform.

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.

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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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

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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Survey for makers of websites

Last year A list apart did a survey for people who make websites. The purpose of the survey is to give an image of how our profession is practiced worldwide. 33.000 people took it and the result was made publicly available and is quite an interesting read.

This year they’re doing it again and now they claim to have even better questions to give us an even more accurate image of what the working conditions for web workers today are. I took the survey, and so should you! 😉

I took it and so should you - The survey for people who makes websites

Great video seminars from Stanford on iTunes U

Stanford University - Human Computer Interaction SeminarThey’ve been around for a while but in case you haven’t seen them I want to share about a really good seminar series from Stanford on iTunes U. The series is called Human Computer Interaction Seminars and include lectures from leading figure within the HCI community.

The sound and video quality of the seminars is fairly good during the lecture part. However in the later part of the seminar where the audience ask questions, the sound quality can be quite bad.

I haven’t watched all of the seminars but here’s three that I can really recommend.
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Huge booklist on user experience design

I’ve just ordered a couple of books at Rosenfeld media and while finishing the order I noticed a part of the site called UX Zeitgeist which consists of a huge collection of books and topics on user experience design.

Rosenfeld - UX Zeitgeist

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