[en-us] Optimize Mobile UX with short URLs

Everyone who likes read about best practices in usability and user experience (UX) may remember that heuristic by Jakob Nielsen: Recognition than recall and this include make URLs more easy to recognize and remember.
On Information Architecture articles and books, good URLs are frequently associate with friendly URLs, like the URL of this blog posts instead of, as example, "http://www.myblog.com/post.php?id=1235652".
However, as more users are accessing websites from mobile devices, friendly URLs may not enough to represent good URLs by two main factors:
  • Input field to type URLs is too small. So, URL must short to be seen, so the user can check spell easily and correct it if needed;
  • Even with QWERTY keyboards and touch screen, type words in a small screen still needs more effort than a desktop/notebook screen. So, type the URL must be less tiring as possible.
Thus, the popularization of URL shortener website like tinyurl.com, migre.me, 1l.to, bit.ly and so many others is not only helpful to share links on microblogs or even present a short links to friends. It can be as a solution to adapt the concept of friendly URL to a mobile context.
This can improve UX by:
  • Reduce time to complete the task of type a URL
  • Make this task less stressing
  • Make URLs more easy to see and more easy to remember
Mobile websites and applications introduce new paradigms and challenges for UX. It's time to get out of the comfort zone and keep make researches in order to evolve UX concepts.
This is just my initial thought of this issue but I want to know how we can expand the discussion of URLs for mobile devices or even more mobile UX aspects that need discussion.

[en-us] Five Myths about Documentation

I always emphasizes the development of a good documentation for interfaces, because I see that many people still reject the idea of document their interfaces design, by believing that it's too complex, unnecessary or "nobody will read".
However, I found a good article on the Human-Computer Interface website. I would like to share it with you all and ask: do you agree?

Documentation isn’t important because people don’t read it anyway

It is true that people don’t read a manual if it is poorly designed, because it is easier to telephone the customer technical support department than find the answer in the manual.

However, research shows that customers do appreciate good documentation. With hi-tech products or computer software the manual is usually the first thing the user looks for, after unpacking the product, to get them up and running.

You need to have designed the product to write the documentation

The person who designed the product is often the worst person to explain how to use it, because they are too familiar with it, and cannot appreciate what users find hard to understand.

The designer will tend to think in terms of “how does the product work” rather than “how do I do this with the product”, which is what the user needs.

There is no point spending money on producing good documentation because the customer has already bought the product by that stage

Every good salesman knows that your relationship with your customer doesn’t end when you’ve sold them your product.

Good documentation adds value to your product by enabling people to use it fully, and it helps create customer loyalty by reaffirming that they made the correct purchase.

Well-designed products don’t need manuals

Are there any questions that your customers might need to have answered about how to set up, use, or maintain your product?

If the answer is yes, then however well designed your product is, it needs a manual. If not, then your product is either very intuitive, or very simple.

On-line help makes printed manuals unnecessary

Inexperienced users find it easier to learn about using a product from a printed manual, because it is less intimidating, and can explain concepts more effectively.

On-line help is ideal for providing reference information, and it has the advantage that users can look up the answer to a question while they are working with your product.

Documentation should be provided both as a printed manual and as on-line help, to cater for individual preferences.

[pt-br] Cinco mitos sobre documentações

Sempre gosto de enfatizar o desenvolvimento de uma boa documentação de interface, pois vejo que muitas pessoas ainda rejeitam a ideia de uma documentar seus projetos de interface, por considerar complexo, desnecessário ou simplesmente utilizar a máxima de que "ninguém lê".
Desta vez, encontrei um artigo interessante apontando os 5 mitos sobre documentações de modo geral e resolvi traduzí-lo. Confiram abaixo e me respondam: vocês concordam?

Documentação não é importante porque as pessoas não lêem

É verdade que as pessoas não lêem um manual se ele for mal projetado, porque é mais fácil telefonar para o departamento de suporte técnico do que encontrar respostas no manual.
Porém, pesquisas mostram que os clientes apreciam uma boa documentação. Com produtos de tecnologia e softwares, o manual é normalmente a primeira coisa que os usuários procuram, depois de desembrulhar o produto, para fazê-los funcionar.

Você precisa ter projetado o produto para escrever a documentação

A pessoa que projetou o produto é freqüentemente a pior pessoa para explicar como usá-lo, porque eles estão muito familiarizados, e não pode apreciar o que usuários acham difícil entender.
O designer tenderá a pensar em termos como "como o produto funciona" ao invés de "como eu faço isso com o produto", que é o que os usuários precisam.

Não há sentido em gastar dinheiro para produzir uma boa documentação, pois o cliente já comprou o produto nesse estágio

Todo bom vendedor sabe que sua relação com o cliente não termina quando você vende o produto.
Uma boa documentação adiciona valor ao seu produto permitindo que as pessoas o utilizem completamente e isto ajuda a criar uma lealdade com o cliente reafirmando que eles fizeram uma aquisição correta.

Produtos bem projetados não precisam de manual

Há alguma pergunta que seus clientes poderiam precisar de respostas sobre como configurar, usar, ou manter seu produto?
Se a resposta é sim, então mesmo você tendo projetado bem seu produto, ele precisa de uma manual. Se não, então seu produto é muito intuitivo ou muito simples.

Ajuda on-line faz o manual impresso desnecessário

Usuários inexperientes acham mais fácil aprender a utilizar um produto pelo manual impresso, porque ele é menos intimidante, e pode explicar os conceitos mais efetivamente.
Ajuda on-line é ideal para prover informação de referência, e tem a vantagem que os usuários podem procurar a resposta de uma pergunta enquanto eles estiverem trabalhando com seu produto.
Documentação deveria ser provida tanto por manual impresso* quanto ajuda online, satifazendo necessidades individuais.

*nota pessoal: este manual impresso pode ser substituído também por um PDF com a documentação geral do sistema e que pode ser impresso.

[en-us] A simple solution for CSS transparency without hack

Within modern browsers, we feel free to add transparency on DIVs and other contents throught CSS3. For web designers, it increases de possibilities do compose more complex and refined layouts. We can control transparency with CSS properties like opacity.
However, some browsers still doesn't offer support for this feature and frequently we need to use some hack to make it work cross-browser.
There is a simple solution to treat this issue. It make the transparency works for browsers that support transparency and, for browser who doesn't, it still keel your layout elegant, even without transparency.
  • Create a PNG transparent image with the desired opacity. The PNG can be 1px x 1px or, if it has some gradient effect, 1px width x correspondent height;
  • On your CSS, add a rule like
    element { background: (images/bg_transparent.png) [repetition] [horizontal-position] [vertical-position]; }
    Ex.: .header { background: (images/bg_transparent.png) repeat-x 0 0; }
That's it! If the browser didn't suport the PNG transparency, you can still see your layout with background image. Have doubts if it really works? Check WWF website.

[en-us] New portfolio, new blog, new language

Hello People! As I presented my new portfolio this week, I decided to also redesign my blog and introduce a few changes.
First, I apologize my brazillian readers, I haven't writing since July 2009 due to my Completion of Course Work. Fortunately, everything gone good and I was successfully approved! Now, I'm a master student at the Federal University of Sao Carlos, working with Human-Computer Interaction.
Now, I fix a commitment to post articles regularly on the new blog. Oh, and the great change: now it will be bilingual! I don't know if Blogspot has some translator plugin, but for now I'll be indicating the language on the blog title (i.e.: [en-us] Title; [pt-br] Title). Not all posts will be in both languages (image-based posts may be published only in english).
I'll be also importing the posts from the older blog to this blog.
Well, that's it for now, "stay tuned" ;)

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