Archive for the ‘Usability’ Category

It looks like I skipped posting the Bad Usability Calendar  last year.  I’m not sure how I missed it, it’s one of the most interesting ways to demonstrate easy ways to avoid bad usability.  Developed by Netlife Research, a user experience consultancy firm based in Oslo, Norway, the calendar is in the 6th year of publication and available in 16 languages.  The 2010 calendar included a blog post each month that focused on the usability issue of that month.  They included:

Make sure you click on the links on the calendar, they take you to some very funny videos, blog posts, etc.  You can download the calendar and print on 8 1/2 x 10 or purchase for $17 USD.

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The folks at Bennett Jones have won another intranet award, this time from the Nielsen Norman Group (whose business focus is usability) in their report, Intranet Design Annual 2011: Year’s 10 Best Intranets.  In the announcement, Jakob Nielson referred to Bennett Jones while talking about knowledge sharing:

Offering repositories for case studies, samples, and other existing information can help people with similar problems avoid having to start building their solutions from scratch. Examples range from Habitat for Humanity’s fundraising templates to Bennett Jones’ Share Your Work widget. Sometimes, knowledge sharing can be as simple as a Q&A tool to connect employees with questions to colleagues with answers.

He also noted that,  “Knowledge management progressed from cliché to reality, based on simpler and thus more-used features” along with a description of the Bennett Jones intranet,  “The Bennett Jones intranet team built, through strong planning, user research, and smart, thoughtful design, not just a new intranet, but also a mission critical knowledge management work tool.”

Congratulations to Brian Bawden,  National Director of Knowledge Management at Bennett Jones LLP and  Akiva Bernstein, CEO of V51, the SharePoint consulting firm that worked with Bennett Jones to build their intranet.  Keep those awards coming!

Creating a business critical intranet for your organization is a difficult task.  Like any project, there are many ways an intranet project can go awry.  In2009, the Standish Group reported that the failure or near failure of IT projects is almost certain in a high percentage of those projects:

The Standish Group’s just-released report, “CHAOS Summary 2009,” “This year’s results show a marked decrease in project success rates, with 32% of all projects succeeding which are delivered on time, on budget, with required features and functions” says Jim Johnson, chairman of The Standish Group, “44% were challenged which are late, over budget, and/or with less than the required features and functions and 24% failed which are cancelled prior to completion or delivered and never used.”

If we apply these statistics to intranet projects, the success seems dim at best.

With a nod to the Discovery channel’ s MythBusters, Bill Albert writes about busting myths often held in regards to online usability testing in his 4/9/2010 article, Debunking the Myths of Online Usability Testing in the Johnny Holland Magazine.  His focus of the article is online usability testing rather than the usability testing that can be done in person with one or more users but much of the content could be directed at either.

Usability testing goes hand in hand with user research or the needs analysis that must be done to create an intranet that meets the needs of the firm.  James Robertson writes about user research in his 2005 Step Two Designs article, Conducting intranet needs analysis.  While a bit dated in Internet time, it is still right on point about user research.

Law Firm Intranet Success Specifically

For more information on user research and usability testing for law firms, read a sample of the report, Creating a Successful Law Firm Intranet, written by us (Nina Platt, Laurie Southerton and Amy Witt) based on our experience in working with law firm intranets and published by the Ark Group.  The sample includes the Table of Contents, Executive Summary, Chapter 4: Research – Critical for Success, and the case study, Chapter 4: Research for Firm’s Intranet Design.




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