I had the pleasure of meeting Paul Sestito of Hothouse yesterday. Paul is an Information Architect, and I had a great time picking Paul’s brain about how to architect ‘highly usable web applications’.
Here are some of the wisdom from Paul:
Start with the business case, focus on user tasks, usage scenarios, this will help you to get the ‘functionality right’ to start with.
Dedicated work around modelling the human computer interaction, laying out the wireframe, storyboarding approach, sequence/activity diagrams are all good techniques. This provides a good foundation for doing stakeholder walkthrough, verification of functional requirement captured, and is a great communication vehicle to bridge the gap between the creative/designers/IA and the technical/developers/implementers.
Do website usability review. Beyond looking at the obvious such as the creative/layout/format and interaction styles, also monitor usage logs, profile your user’s usage patterns. This helps in identifying the ‘hotspots’ of your website, and gives you some idea what works and what doesn’t.
Paul also gave me a great example of a nice Web 2.0 style travel booking site – http://www.kayak.com/ nifty little site, with simple looking interface, but highly functional and highly usable interaction style.
I was overall really impressed by the design experience of Paul, and when Ron Jacobs is in town later this month, I’m going to get an interview done with Paul so that all of you out there can see Paul on Skyscrapr, and benefit from his wisdom around designing for user experience. Stay tuned…