All entries for October 2005

October 27, 2005

Confirmed identity for the Penguin project account

The final stages for setting up the Penguin project account on the DCS servers was completed today – Paul Williamson confirmed the identities of David and myself, and passwords/access details were issued.

Questionnaire v1.2 completed

The questions have been trimmed, re-worded and the JavaScript validation on radio-buttons tightened! It now connects to the database, and successfully records sample data.

October 24, 2005

Confirmation of Web Space in DCS

Emailed my confirmation to Paul Williamson today for using the shared web-space with David in DCS, using the project name "Penguin" to refer to the available server account. Penguin should hopefully be able to be used in a few days now.

October 19, 2005

Informal Meeting with David

Had a short meeting with David today to discuss how his related project is coming along – some interesting developments have arisen with IT Services, so it should soon be known as to what features can be implemented in the system that are based on existing data (such as Timetable databases).

Another issue has arisen as to whether or not the new system would be using "Sitebuilder", the University of Warwick standard template/content management system. There are arguments in favour of this, such as a standard corporare image, however, as I put to David, it would certainly restrict my design flexibility in creating the interface and as such would be an unlikely route to follow.

The webspace hosted within DCS was still not ready for our meeting this week, and as such setting the system up will be put back to a later date.

Initital research questionnaire, v1.1

After much deliberation, I've now formed a revised version of my initial questionnaire aimed at users of My.WBS – a system I hope to learn from when designing the DCS portal.

A significant question that had been overlooked related to attending to people's disabilities, and this was addressed in Rogers et al. (1994) "Human Computer Interaction" - Harlow,Pearson.

Other factors of website usability were addressed in the "Usability evaluation" section of Cato, J (2001) "User Centred Web Design" - Harlow, Pearson Education. These included the use of language and how easy it is to understand, feelings of being lost inside the website, surprises after clicking on things as well as the overall visual presentation.

Also, in response to some issues raised by Andrew Martin (Project Tutor), some open responses have been left for the respondents' personal feelings towards the site, and the wording/operation of some other questions have been adjusted.

October 18, 2005

HTML forms and JavaScript Validation Nightmare

I keep getting told that whatever doesn't kill me only makes me stronger – and I hope this is true of tonight's efforts!

Whilst attempting to validate a questionnaire as part of background research, I found that I was getting no values from radio buttons in my JavaScript function. I have now since found out (after 2 hours of pain!) that it has no way of knowing which radio button in a group is selected automatically, unlike other HTML form controls.

So my solution is to check each array of radio buttons, and record the value of radiobutton[arrayelement].checked.

A lot of hassle, but very useful for future reference I reckon.

October 15, 2005

Interesting usability find!

Interesting find today (book below) with regard to computer usability for persons with disabilities such as arthritis.

Compare selecting a standard "File" menu in a program on MacOS to Windows;

  • On Windows, you have a target of approximately 30×15 pixels to hit the word "File", due to the fact that it is underneath the program's title bar.
  • On a Mac, you have a target of approximately 30 x infinity pixels to hit the word "File". Why infinity? It's quite clever… as the bar is always at exactly the top of the screen, it doesn't matter how far up you keep pushing the mouse cursor, it can't physically go any further than the top of the screen.

Another example in the same book highlights again how Windows almost got it right – the "Start" button in Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000… at the bottom left of the screen, surely it must be easy to select it, based on the principle above. Well shooting themselves in the foot, they left a 'pretty' border of 2 pixels around it, making it just as hard to select as the "File" menu! All credit to Microsoft though – I have noticed today that on my Windows XP machine this issue has been resolved. May have taken them 7 years or so to fix this issue mind…

Moral of the story – make mouse-selectable items big enough to be selected!

Spolsky, J (2001) "User Interface Design for Programmers" - Hong-Kong, Apress.

October 12, 2005

Finished the specification

The specification for the project and how the next few months will shape was finished and submitted today.

October 2005

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