Any web application should strive to keep out of the user’s way: different pieces of software should work together, giving the impression that they fit together like pieces of a jigsaw. One of the stumbling blocks to that is when a user is asked to log in to one piece of software, and then asked to log in again when they visit a different portion of the interface.
We’ve been spending some time at Kent House to make sure that this doesn’t happen, and a part of that is to transparently carry logins across from the EventManager administrative interface to the documentation and support wiki, which runs on the same software as Wikipedia. The key to this is to stop the documentation wiki from asking for user information again, but instead for EventManager to hand the authentication data over.
It turns out that the process is simple: using strong encryption, a request containing the website and user details is handed to the index script of MediaWiki, which runs it through an authentication model. It’s there that the code can check the user details provided, and grant access based on whatever permissions model you wish.
Just one of the ways we’re improving the user experience for EventManager clients.
The researchers from the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge developed a usable system called Dasher that allows the the insertion of text in situations wherever a full-size keyboard cannot be used . For example, Dasher can be used:
- when operating a computer one-handed, by joystick, touchscreen, trackball, or mouse;
- when operating a computer with zero hands (i.e., by head-mouse or by eyetracker);
- on a palmtop computer;
- on a wearable computer.
Dasher is a zooming interface and it contains a vertical line of letters from A to Z. To start typing, you simply point towards the letter you want to start your sentence with and the display zooms in wherever you point. The more you zoom in, the longer the piece of text you have written.
Dasher runs on Microsoft Windows and UNIX systems, it has text predicting functionality and is available in many languages. In addition, just by typing away you can easily train Dasher on using your preferred writing style. So, keep tightly onto your seat and test the usefulness of Dasher in your browser here.
An expert user of Dasher with a mouse as the input device has a writing speed of about 34 words per minute, whereas a novice user writes over 20 words per minute. Furthermore, users of Dasher make fewer errors than people using a conventional keyboard.
Dasher is highly appropriate for computer users with lower ranges of physical capability. It can be driven using a mouse, a trackpad, a touchscreen, a rollerball, or a joystick – any two-dimensional pointing device that can take over the role of a mouse. A foot mouse and a head mouse are additional options. Apparently, the functionality of Dasher has been discussed with Stephen Hawking’s assistant, however, it is yet not known how Stephen Hawking rates the usability and usefulness of this system.
Throughout the year Kent House run a series of events on various topics including SEO, Design, Website Development and Internet Marketing. On 22 June we will be holding a free seminar on Design and Technology and how getting the balance right can improve your online presence. The event will take place at Keele Hall, Staffordshire.
For this upcoming event we have secured the services of Julius Wiedemann – author of Guidelines for Online Success and one of the World’s leading experts on design and marketing. Julius will be giving the keynote presentation and plans to focus on the evolution of design online and take a look at how design has changed how we do business from branding to emails to mobile marketing.
Our very own Kevin Holdridge, will discuss ways in which design, technology, and marketing can work harmoniously together online. He will show examples of how many companies get this badly wrong, thus wasting their money and damaging their market position.
The seminar aims to help local businesses and organisations understand how to get the best return from investment in online channels such as the Web and email. It will do this by focusing on how to get the relationship right between the technology, design and marketing of a site.
The event would be suited to anyone with an interest in marketing, design and websites and more critically people interested in making their website work harder for them by achieving better results in the Search Engines. I have included the event program below.
How we got here – A brief on the evolution of media, communication and design.
Your site – Design and Usability – How to integrate great design into your site without compromising on usability.
Return on Investment – How to maximise your investment in the online world.
Design, usability and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – How to design an effective, easily navigated site yet still do well in Google.