Social media Social networking

Powerhouse on Facebook

We’ve kept this quiet so far but along with the start of the Sydney Design 08 campaign the Museum launched a small Facebook presence. Importantly this presence is managed as a joint effort between the Museum’s Marketing Department and the Web Services Unit, rather than just being a web project.

Sydney Design has a profile as well as the Powerhouse itself.

The Powerhouse profile is not getting a push at the moment but Sydney Design is being promoted through our email newsletters and it is gaining friends like a celebrity. That said, we’ve got a lot of work to do on these still and there are plenty of bugs. Time is always a challenge and you’ll notice that we’ve taken a minimalist approach to listing exhibitions and events so as to not have to struggle to keep everything up to date.

But, we’re very excited that these efforts are not being contained within the Web Services Unit, but are being run by marketing staff. This is an important strategic development, hopefully further embedding social media in the core of the Museum’s operations.

Come and friend us.

(And if anyone knows how to get the MyFlickr application working properly on Facebook Pages with different Flickr accounts then get in touch – we’ve tried everything!)

Museum blogging

A new look Fresh & New

I’ve taken the plunge and upgraded WordPress and at the same time changed themes, upgraded plugins etc. And, bar a few fiddly errors, it went pretty smoothly. One word of advice for others lagging on really old versions of WordPress – take the time to upgrade version numbers one at a time (major stable version by version) rather than jumping straight to the latest – it saves a lot of pain.

I hope the new look makes posts a little more readable and navigable.

A number of readers who have been lumbered with SOEs (standard operating environment) that still insisted on an outdated version of Internet Explorer were complaining that the last redesign left them unable to read all the comments on longer posts should now be happy too.

Developer tools Tools User experience

Usability and IA testing tools – OptimalSort, ClickDensity, Silverback

As the team has been working on a large array of new projects and sites of late we’ve been exploring some of the newer tools that have emerged for usability testing and ensuring good information architectures. Here’s some of what we’ve been exploring and using –

We’ve started using Optimalsort for site architecture – especially the naming and content of menus. Optimalsort is a lovely Australian-made web product that offers an online ‘card sorting’ exercise. In our case we’ve been using it as a way of ensuring we get a good diversity of opinions on how different types of content (‘cards’) should be stacked together (in groups) under titles (menus). Optimalsort lets you invite people to come and order your content in ways that make sense to them and then presents you with an overall table of results, form which you can deduce the best possible solution.

We’re also back using Clickdensity which is great for tracking down user interface problems on live sites. We used this when it first was released by Box UK and it revealed some holes we quickly fixed on a number of our sites. Whilst it still has issues working properly in Safari and, surprisingly, sometimes on Firefox, Clickdensity lets you generate heatmaps of your visitors’ clicks and mouse hovers. Armed with this you can quickly discover whether your site visitors are trying to click on images thinking that they are buttons or links; or choosing certain navigation items over others.

Sliverback is another UK product, this time from Clearleft. We’re gearing up to use this with some focus groups to record their interactions (and facial expressions!) as they use some of our new projects and products. Silverback is Mac only (which suits us fine) and records a users’ interactions with your application whilst using the Mac’s built in camera and microphone to record the participant (hopefully not swearing, cursing and looking frustrated). This should be perfectly geared for small focus groups with targetted testing.

Conferences and event reports

Upcoming talks and workshops – London, Sydney, Amsterdam, Auckland

I’ve got some new presentations and workshops coming up over the next few months. The team has been working on some great projects which all will start going public soon – some of which have had a greater level of hush hush than would usually be the case. So in some of these presentations the lid will be lifted on some new material.

As I know there are many international readers of Fresh & New, if you happen to be in attendance at any of the following then do come up and say hi (at least tweet me to say you’re in the same room!). If not then rest assured I will be blogging them to keep everyone up to speed with what is going on.