demonstrating readers’ practices related to news websites. Produced by a group including the Poynter Institute, the Estlow Center for New Media, and Eyetools, Eyetrack III looks like essential reading for anyone managing the development of web projects.
Community != content. I have been fighting with librarian-types over this sort of thing for a while now, and it’s an uphill battle, not in the least because they have all the resources (and cred) afforded to an accepted academic discipline behind them. But make no mistake – understanding this is the beginning of understanding how to successfully do so-called “knowledge management”. [got there via Stewart, whose comments were right on as well]
Peter Merholz wrote a very interesting post about audience segmentation and the web: Thinking About Audience Segmentation. I was provoked enough to comment there, and the comment I left was long enough to repeat here.
…I have been frustrated by poor attempts at such segmentation for years, both in trying to serve clients (or bosses) who insist that we try and by sites that try and segment me. I think there are a couple of important things to note.
First of all, I think the University example is telling – it is easy to assume that in a university context, the segments are going to be quite distinct. But that assumption is meaningless until thoroughly tested with the segments themselves.
Second, segments work really well when they exist (or more accurately, is reflected) in the product, information, or other subject of the website itself. For cellphone companies, for instance, that actually have different pricing for businesses and consumers. The danger is in assuming too much. Just because business users expense their phones and so can afford more $$ doesn’t mean a “personal” customer doesn’t want your more expensive offering. Making it less accessible to them based on incorrect segmentation can equal shooting yourself in the foot.
Third, and stemming from #2, in my attempts to DO this kind of segmentation in large sites, I have found that in fact you want to allow EVERYONE to access ALL of the content through each view (and NOT by “pretending” to be in a different group). The key to the segmentation is that it is just one particular entry point, not a hard and fast ‘rule’. I learned this the hard way – by segmenting stuff OUT of different views then having to put it right back in later on. Views provide emphasis and prioritize certain information over other information, they don’t become the sole container in which any information resides.
Ronco Spray-On Usability. Daring Fireball by John Gruber is an exceptionally well-written weblog on a variety of interesting subjects. In this case he takes a look at recent complaints about CUPS by the noted Linux evangelist Eric S Raymond.
I don’t know the first thing about Unix programming vs Mac or Windows programming, but the point Gruber makes – that you can’t just approach UI as a nice-to-have afterthought – applies equally well to web development. On the web, form doesn’t follow function. Rather, form and function (at least at a high level) are intertwined to the extent that they are indistinguishable. They are the same job.