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Category ArchiveQuizzing Ourselves

Quizzing Ourselves &Usability 08 Oct 2007 01:16 pm

Topic 7: Usability (In the Wild)

Usability in the Wild

For this exercise, let’s take a real live example of a website, and see how “usable” it is.

Go the the US Census Bureau website, and find out the population of the United States. Where did you find it? How long did it take?

For an analysis of this website, visit Jakob Nielsen’s website ( , and see how most people responded to this site, and how they did with that same question. Click here for “fancy formatting”.

Interesting. It seems as if our best instincts may not be the right answer.

What did Jakob Nielsen say the website should do? Do you agree?

Quizzing Ourselves 31 Aug 2007 10:49 am

Today’s Quiz

At I.B.M., a Vacation Anytime, or Maybe None

“It’s every worker’s dream: take as much vacation time as you want, on short notice, and don’t worry about your boss calling you on it. Cut out early, make it a long weekend, string two weeks together — as you like. No need to call in sick on a Friday so you can disappear for a fishing trip. Just go; nobody’s keeping track.” New York Times, August 31, 2007

Click on the link above for the whole story.

What do you think? Would this work at FNC?

  • Early in its life, FNC did not track vacations. Why do you think it changed that policy?
  • In California, vacation is considered compensation, so that if you have 5 days vacation available to you and you leave to take a sabbatical in Kenya, you are entitled to be paid those days. It sorta works like a savings account you did not know you had.
    • This aspect would disappear
    • Would that matter?
  • Would you be concerned that people would take “too much vacation”? At inconvenient times?
  • Is the trade off that you never feel that you are on vacation, just “staying in touch”?

But the flip side of flexibility, at least at I.B.M., is peer pressure. Mr. Hanny and other I.B.M. employees, including his assistant, Shari Chiara, say that they frequently check their e-mail and voice mail messages while on vacation. Bosses sometimes ask subordinates to cancel days off to meet deadlines.

Some workplace experts say such continued blurring of the boundaries between work and play can overtax employees and lead to health problems, particularly at companies where there is an expectation that everyone is always on call.

“If leadership never takes time off, people will be skeptical whether they can,” said Kim Stattner of Hewitt Associates, a human resources consultant. “There is the potential for a domino effect.”

  • But don’t we need to be sure that we have enough people in place to do certain tasks every day? How do we handle that? Do you agree with the quote below?

“For most companies, keeping track of time worked and time off remains a critical and transparent benchmark for workers and bosses. It is also a necessity in factories, call centers, restaurants and other workplaces where business would grind to a halt if managers were unable to predictably have enough employees on hand.”

  • Keeping track of things is never free. It cost to track vacations, sick days, or for that matter the cost of pencils. What do you think, can it actually save you money to stop worrying about some things?

Go ahead. Quiz yourself, and feel free to provide your comments.

Either way, this is a good start for the Labor Day. So have a happy and safe Labor Day Weekend.