Ticketmaster has announced that they are to scrap the much loathed Captcha verification system which requires customers to decipher a jumble of hard-to-read letters in order to prove they are human. The system is designed to prevent bots from trawling for tickets but has become one of the biggest irritants for fans. As these robots have become more sophisticated, Captcha has had to become more advanced in order to stay effective. But in the process, it has become more difficult for humans to understand.
As Aaron told BBC News:
“It is generally speaking, one of the most hated pieces of user interaction on the web. The major problem with them is that it’s not unusual for several attempts to be needed. So when people see them again on different websites they have negative expectations.”
The UKUPA is the UK Chapter of the Usability Professionals’ Association. It brings together UK professionals from the design, technology and research communities who share a vision of creating compelling technology that meets users’ needs and abilities.
Once a month they hold events and Bunnyfoot had the pleasure of sponsoring the July event on the theme of UX and ROI.
I’ve been watching with interest as the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) era has helped to naturally help make the web more accessible. I have attempted here to strip back the WCAG guidelines and the technicalities of SEO and give you the basics of how to use both to make both the web more accessible and your web presence more visible.
This is Part II of a two part blog on avatars. If you haven’t already you can read Part I below.
So what’s the point? How can this technology be applied to provide us with something useful?
For online businesses, developing a virtual sales agent that is capable of motivating the sites visitors into investigating the company or product further by engaging them in a conversation is powerful. This interaction should make a connection with the visitor and provide them with information regarding products and services, in turn creating the opportunity to convert investigating visitors into customers. At Bunnyfoot we have undertaken numerous testing projects involving the use of agents to support the sales journey. The most successful agents support a wide variety of user enquiries and provide the company with valuable information about customer likes, dislikes and behaviour.
11th November 2010 saw World Usability Day being celebrated around the world. We took part by hosting a design competition on World Usability Day’s theme of “Communication”. We had an amazing morning with the kids from Royal Mile and Niddrie Mill primary schools. In the last month they have built their prototypes following user centred design principles, and after a round of testing at the Bunnyfoot offices they have made all their changes and were ready to put their ideas to a panel of judges.
Content is a major way of communicating messages, but on the web we can be prone to believing that aesthetics sell and end up neglecting the written content. Good copywriting is about understanding how it makes the audience feel and persuading them using both language and imagery.
Mark Vincent is one of our accessibility testers. He has been buying clothes online for the past 7 years – his screen reading software reads what is on the page for him, but the only way he can visualize clothing is through the image the content creates in his mind. He has written a guest blog for us to understand what the web “looks” like to him. Try to imagine the product yourself only through the written cues before you follow the link.
This week, we’ve been overrun with 10-11 year olds from Royal Mile and Long Niddrie Mill primary schools, showing us up with their amazing ideas for how to improve communication in their schools for World Usability Day.
We’re hoping to teach them that usability is a key element when designing tools for communication by helping them to test their products in a professional environment. Each team appointed a moderator, then watched from the viewing room as a group tested their prototypes.
Inamo restaurant in London is using a new way to attract customers, with the world’s first interactive ordering system using overhead projection technology: an ‘e-table’. The aim of this is to give the diner control over the dining experience.
Diners sit at a table, and rather than use a paper menu, they place their order through a food and drinks menu that is projected onto the table surface. As well as ordering food, diners can change their table cloth, browse food, play games, request and review the bill, look for things to do in London, and order a taxi.
The BBC news item below shows a report on the UK’s first Internet enabled car – produced and invented by Bunnyfoot in 2000. The car was intended as a demonstration of the essential importance of usability and accessibility … our message got somehow lost in translation in the newspapers and TV shows that ran the story, but it taught us a lot about different communication methods and to always look to the future.
Since then (is it really 10 years ago?) we have produced hundreds of video demonstrations showing usability testing, eyetracking and accessibility in action, our customer experience presentations at seminars and conferences etc, and many will be appearing here in the next few months – but this BBC one was one of our first … and is still a firm favourite.
What is perhaps surprising is that this type of technology and other ‘alternative interfaces’ haven’t really come on that far in the last 10 years- it seemed then (in 2000) that things like sophisticated voice interfaces for all sorts of devices and uses were bubbling just under the surface. In 2009 though you are likely to be annoyed at best, but most probably bemused, by the majority of telephone interfaces (has anyone tried Egg’s?), never mind anything more ambitious. It seems like it should be simple but this type of interface requires just as much research and careful design (perhaps more) than seemingly more complex visual interfaces. I’ll return to discuss this in more detail in a future post.
It was meant to demonstrate that usability and accessibility are vital for the interfaces of the future:
It seems we were right, and they still are important … lots more challenging and interesting work to do though.
After many years of fudging responses to the common question “when are the new global accessibility guidelines coming out?” – I can finally give the the answer – it is today (11th December 2008) see the Press Release and WCAG 2.0 Introduction for more info.
The new standard is called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (or WCAG 2.0), it replaces WCAG 1.0 – the previously recognised global standard which had been in place since 1997 (that’s eons in ‘Internet time’)