Collected thoughts about software and site performance ...

Web performance matters. Responsive sites can make the online experience effective, even enjoyable. A slow site can be unusable. This site is about online performance, how to achieve and maintain it, its impact on user experience, and ultimately on site effectiveness.

Home | Entries about Performance and Usability (14), in reverse date order:

Measuring Mobile Web Sites

Illustration: Web Analytics Report

The methods commonly used to measure Web sites often don't work for mobile sites, because of differences among mobile platforms and devices. The biggest obstacles are lack of support on mobile devices for Cookies, JavaScript, and client IP addresses.

The Wikipedia article on Mobile Web Analytics provides a succinct introduction to these and other challenges -- see the section on "Problems with tracking visitors, visits and clickpaths in the Mobile Web". Because of these limitations, the tagging methods used by traditional Web analytics tools do not work on most mobile devices.

While researching this subject, I discovered Kaizen Analytics, an excellent blog by Michael Notté. In a recent post, Michael provides a useful overview -- see Mobile Analytics: vertical-specific vs. traditional Web Analytics solutions. Michael points out that there are other ways to collect data about mobile Web sites. He outlines four solution approaches, illustrating each with a helpful diagram:

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Where Performance Meets Availability

Illustration: Stopwatch

Earlier posts about Acceptable Response Times have discussed how a Web site or application's responsiveness can Delight, Satisfy, or Frustrate customers.

Availability, on the other hand, is a measure of a system's stability. It is not a performance metric, it is a software (or hardware) quality metric.

So, technically speaking, performance and availability are orthogonal issues. Practically speaking, however, availability and responsiveness are interconnected concepts.

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Why Technorati is Not Usable

Illustration: Four dimensions of usability

I was going to write about performance and availability today, but this was not the post I had in mind. Technorati sidetracked me. So I'm going to write about Usability instead. Because Technorati provides a good counter-example -- how not to build a usable Web application that satisfies and retains customers.

In Web Usability: A Simple Framework, I described a way to think about Web site or Web application usability.

In a second post, The Dimensions of Usability, I presented the graphic shown here, and discussed the four dimensions in a bit more detail.

These four dimensions are not alternative functional goals, to be weighed against one another and prioritized. Web application effectiveness is a four-step challenge:

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Adobe Acrobat 8 and Software Bloat

Illustration: Adobe Acrobat 8 packaging

Lately I've been working with a lot of documents, so I was getting ready to invest in an Adobe Acrobat licence. To be able to merge documents of different types would be particularly useful. So it seemed like serendipity today when I got an email from Adobe with the title, Combine it all into one. It offered a free 30-day trial of Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional, which it said could "combine spreadsheets, e-mails, web pages, and forms into one searchable PDF package". Perfect! I thought, I'll download it now. And that's when the problems started.

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Posted on Thursday, March 15, 2007 at 02:00AM by Registered CommenterChris Loosley in , | Comments2 Comments

Understanding Web Usability

Illustration: Ryan Stewart

One of the great things about the Web has always been its democratic nature. Anyone can participate. But once you do, your contributions are wide open to public scrutiny. Good or bad, someone will evaluate your Web content. ... And an unpopular opinion can produce flaming responses, as Ryan Stewart of ZDNet (pictured above) found out last week.

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Web Design and Mouse Rage Syndrome

Illustration: Anger

Have you ever been frustrated at a Web site that downloads with the speed of an Alaskan glacier? Or become angry when a favorite site, or your Internet connection, is down? Have you experienced any of these symptoms:

  • Faster heart rate?
  • Increased sweating?
  • Furious clicking of the mouse?
  • Simultaneous clicking and cursing the screen?
  • Bashing the mouse?

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Managing RIA's [7]: Developing Usable RIA's

Illustration: Monitor and AJAX

This is the seventh post in a series devoted to the challenges of Service Level Management (SLM) for Rich Internet Applications (RIAs). In these applications, some processing is transferred to the Web client while some remains on the application server.

Previous posts introduced the subject and the SLM topics I plan to address, reviewed the principal RIA technologies, introduced The RIA Behavior Model, introduced the application measurement topic and discussed RIA measurement challenges.

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Usability For The Web

Illustration: Usability-for-the-web

Today I am continuing my review of Web Usability books, from the perspective (described here) of someone who believes that Performance Matters:

Usability for the Web by Tom Brinck, Darren Gergle, and Scott D. Wood

Subtitled Designing Web Sites That Work, this book is about managing the design process, with the term design being used in its widest sense. In the introduction, the authors define Usability as the product of several design goals: functionally correct, efficient to use, easy to learn, easy to remember, error tolerant, and subjectively pleasing.

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Posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2005 at 12:08AM by Registered CommenterChris Loosley in , | CommentsPost a Comment

The Design of Sites

Illustration: The Design of Sites

Today I am continuing my review of Web Usability books, from the perspective (described here) of someone who believes that Performance Matters:

The Design of Sites by Douglas K. Van Duyne, James A. Landay and Jason I. Hong

As its title suggests, this book is written for anyone involved in the design of a Web site. In the preface and on their site the authors say: Its focus is tilted more toward Web design professionals, such as interaction designers, usability engineers, information architects, and visual designers.

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Posted on Monday, November 14, 2005 at 09:57PM by Registered CommenterChris Loosley in , | Comments1 Comment

Designing Web Usability

Illustration: Designing Web Usability book cover

Today I am continuing my review of Web Usability books, from the perspective (described here) of someone who believes that Performance Matters:

Designing Web Usability : The Practice of Simplicity by Jakob Nielsen

Jakob Nielsen is a famous usability guru. He writes, speaks, and consults on Web site design and usability, and his 1999 book is a classic. It is surely the best-seller on this subject, having been translated into 21 languages. According to the New Riders Press publisher's introduction over 250,000 Internet professionals around the world have turned to this landmark book.

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Posted on Friday, November 11, 2005 at 11:21PM by Registered CommenterChris Loosley in , | CommentsPost a Comment
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