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ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)


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"ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)" <[log in to unmask]>
Boniface Lau <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 24 Oct 1999 16:51:26 -0400
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Eric Justin Gould wrote:

> As an emerging media interface designer it has been interesting reading your
> responses to Ms. Zibell's question.  My thoughts about Balthaser aside, the
> latest version of is coming up on it's one year anniversary
> and we'd love to get some constructive criticism from the
> community to catalyze next steps.
> No need to rehash bandwidth or other issues addressed already; I'm curious
> about your thoughts on balancing rich information display & navigation with
> broadband media sense-ability.

Your site's background music reminds me the reason dripping faucets are so
annoying. If you don't have truly interesting music, I much rather you don't
play any music at all. I had to turn off my speakers because I couldn't stand
the boring monotonous rhythms in your background music. It got really annoying!
By the way, mute means no sound. Period. But your mute button only mutes the
background music. When I move the mouse over a button, I still get the annoying
mouse over sound.

Even when you have truly interesting background music, is it a good thing to
add to a web site? If you observe workplaces, be they company or home offices,
you don't often see background music being broadcasted. Why? Apparently
background music is not conducive to undivided attention. So, adding background
music to a web site is in effect saying, "My site's information is so boring
that it won't keep your attention for long. So I have added background music to
keep you interested."

Suggestion: Music can be very powerful and can have irrational impact on the
listeners. However, music's impacts are not as well understood as other media.
If you really want background music, get someone who knows the psychology of

I also noticed that the Ultra-Sensory version deviates from some of the
well-established human factor guidelines that your HTML Frames version adhered
to. And those deviations make your ultra-sensory version ultra-annoying.

For instance, your HTML Frames version honors the browser default font size by
using relative sizes. Thus, the text blocks are comfortable to read. But the
Ultra-Sensory version uses absolute, instead of relative, sizes. And the text
blocks are very difficult to read. Bear in mind that depending on the display
resolution and monitor size, a given font size may or may not be comfortable
for reading.

Another deviation is the positioning of navigation buttons. Instead of grouping
them into a small area like the left navigation bar in the HTML Frames version,
the Ultra-Sensory version spreads them out. Thus, the mouse has to travel a
greater distance to select another button. What is even more annoying is the
fact that you move those buttons around. Depending on which screen a person is
looking at, the Portfolio button can be anywhere ranging from the middle right
margin to the bottom of the screen. I don't want to play hide-and-seek with
your navigation buttons.

Incorporating a new medium doesn't mean you have to start from ground zero.
Issues addressed by guidelines in a well-established medium often carry
themselves over into the new medium, but in a different form.

Suggestion: Compare the Ultra-Sensory version with the HTML Frames version and
note all the human factor guideline deviations. Then for each deviation ask
yourself, "Are the issues covered by that guideline still relevant in the
Ultra-Sensory version? If so, how does the Ultra-Sensory version address those

Boniface Lau