- Children can’t use it. The reason given for this is that their voices are too high! This is rubbish and I started using speech recognition when I was 9. The technology has developed a lot so it should be even easier now.
- When using it you have to talk REALLY LOUD! When I was at school this was one of the reasons teachers were reluctant to let me use it in the classroom. However, I am using the software right now and I’m talking barely above a whisper. When using it in lessons, I was certainly never any louder than the guys gossiping at the back of the classroom!
- Training takes for ever. With the latest versions of software Dragon NaturallySpeaking only takes about 30 minutes to do initial training.
- You have to speak each word individually like a robot. Wrong! In fact it works much better if you speak as naturally and as fluently as possible.
- You have to speak really slowly. Wrong again, it’s better if you speak at a normal pace. In fact, if you pronounce each individual word properly, you can speak as fast as you like. Usually, when I am dictating, I speak a lot faster than I would in normal conversation.
- When you are dictating, the room has to be totally silent. This was a concern I had when using speech recognition in a busy classroom. However the microphones used for speech recognition generally tend to be proximity microphones which only pick up noise close to. Unless somebody’s being particularly loud next to you, the odds are, recognition will not be affected.
- You are not allowed to use speech recognition in an exam. False. The access arrangements for GCSE and A levels do allow it and it is covered in the Regulations. Universities also allow it. Schools and universities sometimes make a meal out of this one but persevere as it is permitted but not many people know this.
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I am obsessed with visualisations. I try to be an advocate of how they are literally worth a thousand words (or more), and should be used wisely.
People refer to them as data graphics, data visualisations, information visualisations, info graphics and etc. There are differences between these visualisations but the underlying concept of them being useful and usable shouldn’t be different.
The info graphics or visualisations that we see on websites or magazines or other media outlets are sometimes visually appealing but not that useful. I remembered evaluating a tool which helps people visualise their social networks and there was feedback on how people would print out the visualisations and stick it on the wall because it looked pretty cool although it didn’t actually make any sense.
So is there a way to design these visualisations better so that they actually help people make sense of information?
I think there is, and I’ve summarised a few very basic guidelines for designing visualisations that are easier to understand or manipulate in some instances. It’ll be interesting to hear what you think about it :)
Photo credit: munterbund.de
BA continues to hold 1st place in terms of online usability for users according to our latest online travel report, Flights Online: Ensuring Your Site Takes Off.
Just as well as 2010 could be said to be its Annus horribilis to date.
First the snow, then volcanic ash followed by a number of strikes, at least BA are making it easy for the user to purchase flights online if not following through with the service by actually having it’s airlines fly.
In a competitive market which is more and more feeling the influence of uncontrollable outside effects, making it easy for someone to find and purchase travel has never been so important. Now, when users are sitting at home booking a flight or holiday many other considerations are going to come into play, so keeping a potential customer is crucial.
So why do the average scores in our annual travel report still leave plenty of room for improvement? Although the average usability score has increased from 56.7% to 64.4% since last year, basic guidelines that still need improvement include the following:
- Supporting comparison shoppers
- Making pages ‘share-friendly’
- Providing airport information
- Displaying clear progress bars
- Providing contact numbers during the booking process
So perhaps for those companies with lower scores this is their time to capitalise at BA’s expense and improve their user experience.
As we swing into June summer is most definitely here in London. For me, summer arrives when the air con starts going on every day in the office and we no longer rely on opening windows, and this has most definitely been happening recently. The customary differences in opinion (usually between the men and women) as to the air con temperature have also begun surfacing in earnest.
Summer this year brings a great deal of uncertainty into the UK, with our new government promising massive cuts especially with public sector spending. At Webcredible we’ve been extremely busy this year working on some large and very interesting projects, with no apparent sign of this waning. We’ve still got decent briefs coming in from both the public and private sector so it will be interesting to see how this pans out.
So, other than the General Election and the iPad launching in the UK in May, it was an eventful month for us. We’ve finally hired our new Head of User Experience, Pete Broadbent, after a lengthy selection process. Pete has a huge amount of experience within the UX and digital space and we’re really excited to have him in the company. He’s worked for a very large consultancy for the past few years so has built up varied experiences over the past 10 years or so.
Talking of new hires, we’ll also be hiring a new office manager this month as our current one is sadly leaving us. I’ve got a number of interviews lined up for what is actually a hugely important role within the company – the Office Manager is probably the person that interacts the most with everyone internally and ensures people’s day-to-day happiness.
We noticed quite a bit of activity over on Twitter too, with people tweeting about the results from our latest poll. Our poll asked why you’d abandon an order when shopping online, with the most commonly cited answers (accounting for 2/3 of the votes) being:
- Hidden charges at the checkout
- Having to register before buying
We weren’t too surprised that these came out on top as we see consumers complaining about these all the time in research. We were however surprised at the number of people that chose these 2 options. Ecommerce managers, you have been warned!
We’ve got a couple of reports coming out this summer too, namely our annual flight booking and council usability reports. I really like our reports – they always rank 20 of the leading providers against 20 key usability guidelines that we’ve developed through our own research (we run a lot of projects in the travel and local government sectors). The reports always make for an interesting read as they:
- Have a full league table showing who are the best and worst
- Explain the guidelines in detail meaning everyone can learn best practices
So do look out for our reports! We’ll of course blog and Tweet about them when they come out. Do also keep an eye out for our new training courses. We’ve got 5 new courses launching this week (taking the total number up to 15), and are splitting them up into 5 separate training streams. Our training courses our great (although I’m a bit biased)… small class sizes, highly interactive and taught by experts – what more could you want!
Until next month…
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