Big Name Sites Still Not Considering User Goals

Some of the redesigns of late have been rather good (step forward Stop Design and Justwatchthesky; not so fast Mezzoblue, although that comment highlighting script is kind of interesting). And then there’s that whole “Design Eye for the Usability Guy” thing, which just made the rest of us feel inadequate (but at least you gave us a good chuckle in doing so).
So good, in fact, that some people might be thinking, “how am I ever going to succeed in web design with all these talented people about? The web departments of any large company or agency must be filled with folks way better than me.”
Well, recent experience enables me to report that this is simply not the case and that some of the biggest names in the business still have a long way to go.

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Microsoft Office Tips & Tricks

For those of us that seek to become even more powerful users of Office (knowing look, Keith), PC Magazine has kindly come up with 106 Office Tips and Tricks. Well worth a look.
On a side note, it’s interesting to see how unusable their site is. Try navigating around the tips and tricks article without having to go back to the main link via the breadcrumb in order to get to another main section.
You can’t dip into the Word section, read a few tips and then jump over to, say, the Excel section without going back to the main page. Which you can’t get to without using the breadcrumb trail. Like anyone would want to do that – silly me!
They also take the take the “page” metaphor to an extreme for their content (presumably to throw more ads at us) and break it up into small chunks on separate pages. Given that the site is not the fastest at loading, this soon (for “soon” read “as soon as you have to click the ‘next’ link for the first time”) becomes a real pain.
Fortunately, there’s a workaround to this usability snafu – click on the “print” icon and the whole article is nicely laid out on a single page, sans intrusive advertisements.

Real Life Personas

Here’s a real life persona for you – the busy housewife (or, mother, home worker, domestic engineer, etc).

My wife is a busy mother and [one of the above] and uses the web every day, mostly for checking her email, managing our online photo albums and reading the Babycenter bulletin boards. Read More

Online Press Rooms: “How Not To Do It”

Online press rooms come under fire over at Contentious. According to Amy Gahran:

Journalists increasingly turn to online press rooms because a well-done online press room can save a lot of time. Time is critical to journalists, because of deadline pressures. If they can’t find exactly what they seek, immediately, they’ll turn elsewhere.

Among the errors Amy notes are making the press room hard to find, not listing press contacts, and not listing press releases in date order, latest first.
I think that the media room we have on our hospital site doesn’t fall into those traps, thank goodness, although not knowing this audience particularly well, there may well be others.