Things I’ve Been Reading
A fortnightly collection of links to online articles, news and resources of interest to people working on the web.
Automating Visual Testing
At Web Directions events we frequently cover testing and a key to this is, of course, automation (see also Atul Gawande‘s Checklist Manifesto, which we mentioned in a newsletter last year and was the foundation for a great presentation by Jeremy Nagel at Web Directions 2015, “Checklist Driven Development” [you can watch the popular 20 minute video here]) but an area I don’t see talked about all that much is automated visual regression testing.
There are a number of tools, like PhantomCSS (covered in detail in this SitePoint article) and hosted services like SiteEffect, but this week I stumbled across an article by Tom Partington at REA on Automated visual checking of deployments with ImageMagick. See how they ensure “greater confidence that each continuous deployment of our home page is issue free.”
Inherent Value Testing
“Is your web site chartered with encouraging people to buy or use your product or service? Is it succeeding? It turns out there is a simple usability testing technique that can help you measure how your site communicates your product’s inherent value.”
Jared Spool, who spoke at last year’s inaugural Transform conference, considers how we look for not what’s broken about our site (or company’s service), but what isn’t, in this article about what he terms ‘inherent value testing’. When services undergo significant change (as LinkedIn has recently done in terms of its UI), its most loyal users often react strongly to the movement of their cheese.
Jared considers how we can identify and ensure the inherent values of our offerings when considering change.
Creating Good Content in Government
“Government has a complicated relationship with content. We publish too much, information can be hard to understand, and users often find it hard to work out what we are asking them to do. Research shows that 50% of users of government services experience difficulty finding information online. Of those, 24% resort to making a telephone call.* This is despite the hard work that many Australian public servant content and web teams do on a daily basis.”
So, how can folks in Government – and anywhere, really – do better? Libby Varcoe, Content Community Lead at the Digital Transformation Agency and Darren Menachemson from ThinkPlace look at some practical techniques in this piece published this week.
Things I’ve Been Listening To
Atul Gawande, whose “Checklist Manifesto” I referred to above in conversation with Ezra Klein, founder of Vox Magazine. Gawande is also a feature writer for the New Yorker, a surgeon, and a self confessed health care policy wonk, who worked on campaigns for Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Gary Hart.
Klein’s podcast is full of fascinating conversations with a huge variety of extraordinary people (another recent favourite is his conversation with Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield, also founder of Flickr and the original 5K competition).
I know, I know – lots of men talking with each other, but there are some great interviews with women there too.