Bad usability

Priscilla points to the Be the full stop campaign site. I decided to give it a whirl.

Firstly, it has to be said using Google maps to select your location is a very, very time-consuming operation. The facility they provide for non-UK residents took about 2-3 minutes just to find my location. I also got my location wrong on the first attempt, and I had to completely delete my profile to update my location.

But the biggest usability issue is this one:

Bad gender selection mechanism on Be the full stop

Firstly, I think there are probably many users of the site that wouldn’t get the subtle distinction between these two icons.

Secondly, this type of icon/widget is used on the Mac OS (and I suspect other sites/operating systems) to signify an avatar (an icon you can use to identify yourself – usually a photo or some kind of character icon). I initially missed that it was a question about gender and thought it provided the ability for me to upload an image.

Lastly, what do you need to know my gender for?

Anyways – it’s a good cause, so worth checking out despite these flaws – just be sure to get your location right first go 😉

Everything Sensis touches turns to…

I read the other day that Telstra is betting on Sensis as a way to increase their profits by becoming a “media” company. I nearly spat my coffee out.

I can find the contact details to a business or restaurant quicker using Google than I can using the Yellow or White pages websites.

I tried to list something on the Trading Post website, only to come up against an error in the site that stopped me from becoming a customer. I reported the issue. Three weeks later the issue had not been fixed and I had to phone the order in.

Directions on WhereIs are simply broken – don’t trust the times they give. And when I access the site using Camino I get a big “your browser isn’t supported” – Camino uses the Firefox rendering engine, so is virtually identical. But when I get into the site – because they use graphic buttons, I get two whopping great blank buttons beneath the address form. I’ve learnt from trial and error which one to click, but this is a simple, simple, simple thing that they could fix with a tiny change to the site.

But what prompted me to post this? The recent “upgrade” to CitySearch.

Gone are the simple tabs and navigation that have worked so well (instead replaced with some hybrid that places more importance on the weather than usability). Gone are the clean URLs (which replace this “http://sydney.citysearch.com.au/section/film” with “http://sydney.citysearch.com.au/servlet/Satellite?c=Page&cid=1119945819951&city=sydney&cityName=Sydney&pageid=1119945819951&pagename=CitySearch%2FPage%2FCSWLayout&vertical=film&verticalName=Film”) – not only that but they didn’t even have the foresight to remap the old URLs to the new crapness. Gone is the good performance (it runs as slow as a dog at home – and my connection isn’t that slow). Now when I go to the film section it asks me to install a plugin (and I have most common plugins already installed, so that’s saying something). And gone is the simple and easy way to find session times and cinemas.

I wouldn’t be so negative if I actually saw some value in the changes that they’ve made to the site – but I honestly can’t see how it’s better than the old one, so the net impression I get is that it’s a step backwards.

So I wouldn’t be counting on Sensis to be Telstra’s saving grace somehow…

Iraq death toll

CNN: Study: War blamed for 655,000 Iraqi death [via Scripting News]

War has wiped out about 655,000 Iraqis or more than 500 people a day since the U.S.-led invasion, a new study reports.

…President Bush slammed the report Wednesday during a news conference in the White House Rose Garden. “I don’t consider it a credible report. Neither does Gen. (George) Casey,” he said, referring to the top ranking U.S. military official in Iraq, “and neither do Iraqi officials.”

“The methodology is pretty well discredited,” he added.

No mention by Bush of why the methodology is discredited. Later:

Last December, Bush said that he estimated about 30,000 people had died since the war began.

…The authors said their method of sampling the population is a “standard tool of epidemiology and is used by the U.S. government and many other agencies.”

Professionals familiar with such research told CNN that the survey’s methodology is sound.

Doesn’t matter which way you cut it – Bush’s accepted figure of 30,000, Iraq Body Count’s figure of between 43,850 nd 48,693 (which relies solely on media-reported deaths), or 655,000 in the new study – Iraqi’s have suffered a huge loss of life. America launched this attack supposedly in response to the loss of life on 11 Sept 2001 – around 3,000 people. At least 10 times that loss of life in Iraq. At least…

What bugs me most about Bush’s statement is that the US military have explicitly stated that they do not track deaths of Iraqis – so how on earth they can support the 30,000 figure I do not know.

Majora Carter at TED

I meant to post this a while back, but remembered it today and wanted to pass it on.

Abe pointed to a podcast of Majora Carter’s talk at TED. She talks at 100 kms an hour, but packs an hour’s worth of impacting, pertinent and hard hitting commentary into her 30 minute slot.

She links the issues of urban renewal, environmental degredation, poverty and race and shows that there are solutions available if we think more about what we’re doing and how we do things.

I especially like the story she relays about meeting Al Gore.

Anyways, if ya got a few minutes check it out.

Update 20-Oct-2006 The video of the speech is also available on Google Video.