Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Blog trauma--help!

Okay, let's flex the power of the supportive blogosphere and see if we can help Rick out. I'm having a couple of problems, and I don't know how to fix them:

1. On this blog, you can't have trackbacks naturally through blogger, so I installed a plugin through HaloScan to allow readers to trackback to me. However, I just realized today that it doesn't email me when people leave comments, like Blogger used to. I don't ever actually read my own blog, so I never know if I have comments unless they are emailed to me. (And all this time I thought nobody was commenting on this blog, when, in fact, there have been a few kind posts left and I haven't known about them).

So how do I get HaloScan to email me when people post? Or is there a better way to get trackbacks, and emails of postings, through Blogger?

2. The bigger issue is trying to get my edublogs blog going, because eventually I want to leave my blogger past behind and migrate to edublogs. I already have the domain at rickwest.edublogs.org, but I'm wanting this new site to be able to function as more than my blog, but also as my online portfolio for first year review here at UGA, etc. (that's the whole point for using WP instead of blogger: having more flexibility).

Everything was fine, but suddently the rich text editor no longer shows up when I log into my edublogs blog! I know html, but what's happening is all the stuff I've written are jumbled into one big mess within the editing window, so knowing html doesn't help. I need the rich text editor back!

Otherwise, I may have to abandon this edublogs experiment and stick with my blogger blog :-(

Anyone have any ideas to help out? (and I WILL read the comments to this post! :-)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

When is it profitable to redesign your interface?

Rumors are spreading that Microsoft is planning to completely overhaul their new interface for the Office series of programs. Great. That's the last thing I need is to have a "sharp learning curve" for the technologies I NEED to function every hour of every day.

Woah. Did I just say that? Can there be such a thing as techno-addiction because apparently I've got it.

As I was thinking about this new interface design and the pain it will cause me and millions of users, I began wondering why Microsoft would do this. Despite competition, MS has a pretty solid consumer base, so they don't need to redesign the interface to stay profitable necessarily. So why tick off all your users by redesigning what everyone is comfortable with?

I don't get it.

And this led me to another thought: At what point is redesigning your interface warranted by the return on investment you'll receive? For example, MS must be expecting some benefit from redesigning their interface--will that benefit be enough to compensate for all the ticked off users who had to learn the new interface? At BYU, the library has become very well known for redoing their website's design nearly every year. Each iteration of the design is supposedly more usable and "better", but everyone on campus has such a poor opinion of the library's website, and in interviews I had a couple of professors explain that their productivity was impacted because of the annual learning curve of learning the website all over again.

So, at what point can you expect the benefit to outweigh the difficulty you'll create for your users? It seems that many times, even if the new interface WOULD be better (which is often a debatable assumption), it may be better for your users if you just left good enough alone and didn't mess with the design anymore.

That's my takeaway from all this--to be careful in my designs to limit the desire to innovate, change, and redesign so that, above all, it's usable and familiar to my users because it's intuitive and similar to what they've used before.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Syllabus keynotes online

Just found out that the video archives of the Syllabus 2005 keynote addresses are available online. You can view them here:


I plan to check them out, when I have time. The problem, however, is they are only available in video stream format. Hey, Syllabus! Ever thought of a podcast? :-)