User Experience

Today’s iPhone WTF

Huh. I just realized you can create events in the calendar on the iPhone, but you can’t invite people to those events. How big of an oversight is that?

Apple User Experience

My iPhone wishlist

The more I use my iPhone, the more I spot things that bug me that I’d like to see improved:


  • Don’t fix the all day events area, allow it to scroll as I move up and down in day view. I use all day events a lot and sometimes this means I can’t see my overall calendar when in day view.
  • When I decline a meeting, if it is recurring, allow me the option of declining only this occurence or the series. Currently if you decline a recurring event it kills off all of them (current and future)
  • Calendar search
  • Allow me to view published calendars from others. For example, I have my address book birthdays being pulled into a calendar and I can’t get to these.
  • Allow me to add a status to a calendar event like I can in Outlook (e.g. Free, Busy, Out of Office)
  • Allow me to set a calendar event as private

Contacts/Address Book

  • Ensure search covers all fields. I often add notes (e.g. Italian restaurant) and it would be helpful for search to include all fields.
  • Make entry easier. Too many windows I have to hop through. Nuff said.


  • Allow me to elevate some setting to the home page. For example I often have to change the brightness of my display, access wifi or VPN and it’s annoying to not be able to get to this faster.
Have any iPhone gripes of your own?
Some suggestions already via email:
  • To sync published calendars you can try BusySync
Information Architecture User Experience

Upcoming conferences: IDEA and CanUX

I’m off to a couple conferences in the next few months:

IDEA Conference

The IDEA Conference is a yearly conference about Information: Design, Experience and Access that is sponsored by the Information Architecture Institute. I’m looking forward to seeing David Armano (Critical Mass), Chris Crawford, Bill DeRouchey, Dave Gray, Andrew Hinton and Edwina von Gal.


This Canadian UX conference is a great opportunity to meet other UX peers, hear some interesting speakers and maybe even learn some new approaches.

From Jess McMullin:

CanUX, the Canadian User Experience Workshop, runs November 16-18 in Banff, AB. This year we’ve got a great lineup of hands-on sessions with folks like Dave Gray (Xplane), Luke Wroblewski (Yahoo!) and Brandon Schauer (Adaptive Path). We’ve also got sessions from the Banff Executive Leadership program, a better method for designing with developers from Vancouver’s own Jerome Ryckborst, and how-to on nForm’s award-winning Swimlanes deliverable with more speakers to be announced soon. We’re also bringing back the Design Slam and our Show and Tell reception where you can show off your work and learn from others.

All of this for $899+GST, an all-inclusive price that covers two nights of accommodations and meals on site. That’s less than many other events charge in fees alone. To make the deal that much sweeter for you, our west coast friends, the discount code ‘vanue’ saves $50 so you pay only $849+tax.

On top of a great program, we’re also tossing in a copy of nForm and Adaptive Path’s latest books: Tagging, and Subject to Change, along with our regular sponsor prize giveaways.

We keep attendance capped at 70 so that participants get to spend plenty of time with speakers and each other in a casual setting. Last year we sold out, so register soon to confirm your seat.

Details and registration are at

User Experience

Real ease-of-use with hCard

When we launched the new site back in June, we deployed hCard support on our Contact Us page. Deploying the microformat was easy for Dan and Stuart and even though it is not used a lot, it’s a nice progressive touch that makes it easier for customers to grab our contact details and add it to their address book. If you don’t use hCard you likely didn’t even notice we added it 🙂

Satisfaction hCard

Recently I came across a great use of hCard to reduce the need to create another profile. At Satisfaction, the sign-up page uses hCard to let you signup using an existing profile (e.g. Twitter, Upcoming, Technorati, Flickr, Last.FM, or one of your choosing), thus reducing the need to jump through a complicated signup.

I wonder if someday we’ll see a similar, yet secure way to access your accounts. Leveraging hCard, OpenID or other standards? Wouldn’t that be great if you could check your balance, send a twit to a friend for some money you owe or pay a bill and archive the receipt on Flickr.

Banking User Experience Web Analytics

Launch of the new North Shore Credit Union site

Today we launched our latest version of I have to admit that I’m very happy with the outcome. When I started work on this project earlier in the year. The goals were simple:

  • Make it easier for people to complete key tasks
  • Blend our personal and business offering (users were not self identifying with these self segments) and enable cross-sell to all sides of our service
  • Enable us to continue to expand on the provision of a solutions-based, not product based approach to meeting member needs.

We modified the home page providing access to key tasks and introduced a compelling ‘widget’ as our primary communication area. The ease-of-use is remarkable and all available via one less click since we took out a whole level in the IA. The new section landing pages (Banking, etc.) we’re tweaked slightly as were the interior pages to provide more whitespace, better access to related links and reading. The contact us page even got a slight overhaul. Additionally, thanks to Dennis and his post about the length of your search query box — an optimized search query box.

I have a bunch more things I haven’t put live, so look for some surprises in the coming weeks.

Making our decisions based on the data (web analytics), rather than just gut is paying off. Over the past two years, incremental tweaks have reduced the reject rate on key pages substantially and overall site wide and continued refinements to the IA (information architecture) to elminate the number of clicks/steps required to complete tasks has visitors engaging with more content on the site.

A big thanks to Robbin Steif for listening and being full of opinion, Habanero for the IA, design and usability effort and the folks at CUCBC for pulling this all together.

User Experience

Adaptive Path UX Intensive Vancouver

Adaptive Path is bringing their UX Intensive to Vancouver, November 12-15. Take in four in-depth days on Design
Strategy, Design Research, Interaction Design and Information Architecture. If you register now you can get an early-bird discount and guarantee a spot! These sell out fast.

User Experience

Gerry McGovern masterclass

Those of you in Vancouver: Gerry McGovern is coming to town on May 10-11 for one of his ‘Creating Customer-Centric Websites’ masterclasses. Sadly I won’t be able to take this one in as I’ll just getting back from the EMetrics Summit and am stuck in meetings. I used Gerry earlier in the year for some design planning (leveraging his Customer Carewords process) and he has a lot of solid ideas around the design of sites focussed on customer needs.

Can’t make it? Gerry is also appearing at Jared Spool’s UI12 Conference November 5-8 in Cambridge, MA.

Usability User Experience

Right-hand vs. left-hand navigation

On the NSCU site we have positioned the navigation on the right, rather than the traditional left-hand side [example: our credit cards page]. Often when the site gets reviewed by an outside consultancy or “expert”, they comment on the navigation position and suggest we move it to the left. Afterall “that’s the way everyone does it”, their used to it, don’t break the affordance, etc…

I’m open to change, but reluctant to do so based on little more than personal preference. I prefer to test, evaluate, then act. So far we haven’t changed it because I have yet to see a user during on our numerous usability testing sessions having trouble using it, nor have we seen an impact on the site’s ease-of-use. In fact, we found that visitors engaged more with page content (now at the left they see the content not the navigation first) and made use of more of the page information (e.g. read more of the page) than when there was navigation at the left. Additionally the proximity to the scroll bar and the fact that most are right-handed, makes browsing easier — Fitt’s Law in action.

So I was pleasently surprised today to see the folks at Free Usability Advice answer my question about our navigation that I had submitted a couple months ago and agree with our direction. Their response listen to your users and your data over expert opinion.

My question

Our site uses a right-hand navigation, rather than the traditional left-hand navigation. We’ve tested this extensively and the results have always been very positive. Experts tell us to move the navigation to the left. Should we listen to experts or our users?

Their answer

If you’ve done extensive testing of your website with the correct types of users and the right sample size, and the users had no trouble with right-hand navigation, then trust the user data over expert opinion.

While it’s true that left-hand navigation is more common and more expected than right-hand navigation, remember that standards and guidelines merely provide a starting point for design. In absence of data to support going against a standard, the standard should be followed. However, we’ve seen several instances where, because the user audience was different from “the norm” or because of other causes, a standard wasn’t the best answer.

Some of the arguements for and against right-hand navigation: