In usability we trust

UX and all things web

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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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How to balance different interests within a project

In every web and software project it’s important to find a good balance between different interests in order to produce a successful product or service. My biggest takeaway from reading A Project Guide to UX Design was the idea of maintaining a good tension between different interests in a project group.

In this article I will describe what those interests are and what will happen when any of them becomes too dominant. I will also share my thoughts on how to overcome imbalances.

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4 Books on UX that I’ve read recently

I’ve recently read a few books on User Experience design and this is a run down of them.

Although they’re all about UX Design, they’re still very different in their approach to the subject. I list them here, from the most practical to the most theoretical.

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Calculating Distances and Areas in Google Maps API 3

As I mentioned in the article Extending Google Maps API 3 with libraries a couple of weeks ago, you can add functionality to the Google Maps API by using libraries. One of these libraries are the Geometry Library. In this article I will show how you can use the function of that library to calculate distances and areas. I will also explain some additional navigation functions that you might find useful.

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Action-Confirm Design Pattern

Inspired by the User Interfaces of mobile apps on the iOS and Android platforms, I created a delete button using a design pattern that I’ve named the Action-Confirm design pattern. I created this for a web application that I recently worked on.

In a nutshell it’s an Action button that transforms into a Confirm button when clicked. It’s a compact solution that provides the user with a way to confirm a possibly destructive action without interrupting the flow of the application.

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Designing with the mind in mind

Designing with the mind in mind is an excellent book that reveals the facts and neurological research behind common design principles. In this review I will tell you why you should read this book.

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45° imagery view in Google Maps

In the latest version of Google Maps API 3 (version 3.4) a new exciting feature is introduced: 45° imagery in selected cities around the world. This feature will let you see the world from a whole new angle. This change also calls for new properties and controls for the Map Object which will all be explained in this article. As a bonus I will also introduce you to another new feature, the brand new Map Overview Control.

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Extending Google Maps API 3 with libraries

Google Maps API 3 is streamlined to include just the core functionality needed to create basic maps. It’s architected that way too ensure that the API will load as fast as possible. It’s unnecessary for the browser to download and parse functionality that’s not needed. If, however, you need to use specific functionality such as being able to measure distances or display ads, you can get this additional functionality by including a library in the API.

This article will describe how to do just that and what libraries that are currently available.

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Dancing markers

The Google Maps API team recently added an eye catching new feature to the Google Maps API v3 which makes it possible to animate markers. This feature has been available in v2 for quite some time and occurs when you drag and drop a marker. It rises the marker up when you drag it and then bounces it into position when you drop it.

The API team however, wasn’t satisfied with just adding what was available in v2. They also added a drop animation similar to the one found in Google Maps on the iPhone. It looks like the marker is being dropped into place from above and then ends with a small bounce.

But they didn’t stop there either. They also added the ability to animate the markers at will. So now we can trigger the animation whenever we feel like it using the setAnimation() method of the Marker object.

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Google Maps API 3 – Mobile devices

A lot of the web browsing these days takes place on mobile devices. Therefore it’s important to know how to design web pages and maps for these. When it comes to incorporating Google Maps on a web page, it’s done pretty much the same way as for desktop browsers, at least for advanced devices like the iPhone and Android based phones. There are however some things to consider. In this article I will explain what these things are and how it’s done.

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A week to launch

It’s only a week until my book is available for purchase! It was originally scheduled to be released on August 15th but the process of producing the book has gone really well so Apress decided to publish it a whole month earlier. So mark July 15th in you calendar cause that’s when it’s finally coming out!

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The state of this blog

Those of you that are regular readers of this blog have probably noticed a considerable decline in the number of articles being posted here. I thought that I would share with you the reasons for this and a little about the state of this blog.

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My book is now available for pre-order

Here’s an update on how my book project is progressing. The good news is that I have signed a contract with Apress, so they’re going to publish it. I must say that I’m pretty excited about that. It was pretty awesome to see the book with my name on it on Amazon.

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A Project Guide to UX Design

Just like the subtitle: “For User Experience Designers in the field or in the making”, implies this is a book for persons that are not yet experts in the UX field. It’s a wonderful read and really gives a great overview of the UX design role in modern web site development.

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Rocket Surgery Made Easy

This latest book from Steve Krug is a terrific read and a great companion book to his legendary and highly successful book, Don’t make me think. Where Don’t make me think focus on design and the ifs and whys of usability testing, Rocket Surgery Made Easy focuses on how to actually conduct usability test and what to do with the results.

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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

Beta chapter from my upcoming book on Google Maps API v3

blank_book_200I am in the process of writing a book about the new Google Maps API v3. I thought that I would make the process a bit more open by releasing beta chapters that some people might read and give feedback on. Hopefully one of those people is you!

Update: The book is finished and was published by Apress with the name Beginning Google Maps API 3. You can check it out on Amazon.com.

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The difference between add(), find() and filter() in jQuery

There’s a few methods used for traversing the DOM-tree in jQuery that is confusingly similar, well at least they were for me. This article will explain the difference between them and when you should use which one.

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Google Maps API 3 – InfoWindows

Using InfoWindows is a brilliant way to display information about a certain location. Since they provides you with a space to put text or whatever HTML you please, they can be used in very interesting ways. In this article, which is the fourth in a series about Google Maps API 3, I will show you how to make good use of this great feature.

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Handcrafted CSS

Handcrafted CSSDan Cederholms latest book Handcrafted CSS with the subtitle: More Bulletproof Web Design, is an enjoyable read and delivers some interesting advice on how to leverage your designs with the power of CSS3.

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Google Maps API 3 – Markers

Markers are the perfect way to put places of interest on a map and that’s probably one of the most used features in digital maps. In this article, which is the third in a series about Google Maps API 3, I will show you how to use them in Google Maps API 3.

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I’m writing a book about Google Maps

It’s been a while since I last wrote on this blog and I thought I would get you up to speed why that is. The reason is that I’ve been occupied with writing a book about Google Maps.

I haven’t written a book before so this is new territory for me. What I’ve noticed so far is that it progresses far slower than I predicted, but at least it progresses steadily even if slower than anticipated. I’ve taken a few weeks off of my regular work to devote to writing this book but this time won’t suffice, so there will probably be quite a few late nights and weekends of writing as well.

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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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Google Maps API 3 – Map settings

In the first article in this series we discussed how to create a simple Map with Google Maps API 3. In this article we will explore the available properties when creating a map and see how we can change the look and behaviour of the map with the help of them.

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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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Free E-book on Multi-Touch Technologies

mttechcover_160Some people on the forum NUI-group have written a book called Multi-Touch Technologies. The book is about Multi-Touch seen from several perspectives like hardware, software and gestures. It’s more about hardware and software than Interaction Design but contains some interesting bits on the latter subject.

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Google Maps API 3 – The basics

gmmlogoThe Google Maps API has evolved to version 3. This version is a complete rewrite and focuses primarily on speed. The new API also features new ways of using it. This article is the first in a series exploring version 3 of the Google Maps API. This first article will take a look on how to create a simple map and explain some differences from the previous version.

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Dynamically Toggle Markers in Google Maps

This article explains how to dynamically toggle the visibility of markers in Google Maps as well as how to deal with an annoying bug that occurs when trying to do this while using an utility library, like the MarkerManager.

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Google Maps API version 3 is released

maps_logo_small_blueYesterday a new version of the ever so popular Google Maps API was released. In the new version the focus has been on improving speed, especially on mobile devices. I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of the beta testing and has been able to provide feeback directly to the developers. So far I think they’ve done a great job, even if there’s still more work to be done.

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