Product Development

Tools to check web accessibility

Testing and correcting accessibility problems throughout the development process is all about tools. Here are tips I've collected:

Finding more tools:

Retrieve Tags for Content in WCM

Is there an easy way to retrieve the tags associated with a piece of Content in WCM? I need to identify the tags from an item to determine whether to display a paticular panel

Tips from usability research

10 Useful Usability Findings and Guidelines summarizes research findings that have a practical impact on how we design interfaces. The article includes visual examples for these findings:

  • Form labels work best above the field
  • Users focus on faces
  • Quality of design indicates credibility
  • Most users do not scroll (but more and more do)
  • Blue is the best color for links
  • The ideal search box is 27 characters wide
  • White space improves comprehension
  • Effective user testing can be very cheap
  • Informative product pages win
  • Most users are blind to advertising

In addition, the article includes case study findings about typography (line height, space, length), blogs, forms, and portfolios. Worth a read!

Browser Share and Search Engine statistics

I came upon this site ( reading an article about Bing momentarily being ahead of Yahoo! search.  That was interesting enough, but when I checked their homepage, the statistic they lead with (and which apparently is of the most interest to visitors) is the browser share. They also have statistics on specific browser versions, operating systems, and mobile browsers.

Sequenced images for technical communication

Last night Alan Porter explained to STC Austin "Why Tech Writers Shouldn't Be Writers". Much of it focused on the use of comics for technical communication, but not comics in the sense of  "humorous drawings" -- rather, comics as sequential images that tell a story. Most tech writers are painfully aware that their users would rather have a few annotated screenshots than written descriptions and procedures, but that's not a problem so much as a brain-based reality, he argues. Alan pointed out:

Zinepal: On-demand magazine formatting of online documentation

A long-time wish for many of us building and using online documentation is how to grab only the portions we want and have it lay out well for print production, handouts, quick references. A new tool, Zinepal ("magazine pal"), attempts just that: it lets you create your own PDFs -- and even schedule daily rebuilds -- from online content. In an email, Zinepal staff claimed that 1-column layouts would be a quick enhancement, that the easiest way to leverage this tool for documentation is to set up RSS feeds exactly the way you want content to be grouped, and that more integration options are in the works. But as it stands today, it's a compelling example of how to give documentation producers and end users the power to build exactly what they need from online content.

IMIS 15.1 change size of templates

Can we change the size of the content areas? Is the only way to do that is to manually edit the master page?

iDontCParts..... Hey where is the iParts documents that was mentioned at innovations?

I cleared my whole week so I can read the 20-30 white pages regarding iParts I heard about and I can't seem to find it on this website. Is this the wrong website? Sorry please bear with me I just bought my first computer last week and this is my first time on the Information super highway so I am not sure what I am doing..

ASI logo animated cursor

Here, just in time for Innovations, is an animated cursor based on the ASI logo. To install it, copy the asi_pinwheel.ani.txt file to your windows\cursors folder. Take off the .txt extension. In Control Panel / Mouse / Pointers, Browse to this cursor for the "Busy" and "Working in Background" selections. Click Apply and you're done.

May 30, Dallas: Big Design conference (UX)

$50 ($20 w/ student ID), 9:00 to 6:00, May 30, 2009, SMU campus

The Big (D)esign conference is a 1-day blast in Dallas, TX, focusing on convergence among social media, user experience, and code development. It's jointly sponsored by Dallas chapters of the Usability Professional Association, Refresh, and the Interaction Design Association (IxDA). Keynoting will be Norm Cox, one of the UX stars of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center.