Back To The Future: TFM

In 2001 and 2002 I wrote a monthly “column” called <TFM>*. My goal was to explore issues in web design, specifically usability.

Even back then, some of my friends (and students) wondered if I had ever met a Web site that I liked. (I still get this question!) Unfortunately, even in 2008, finding examples to illustrate poor interface design and limited usability is much easier than finding exemplary sites.

From the original statement of purpose:

<TFM> explores anything that affects how a Web site (or software or appliance) communicates with its readers/visitors. Emphasis is on usability and accessibility and may include site reviews, book reviews and technology reviews. The point of view is not “how did they do that?” but “WHY did they do that?”

As I re-read the columns this weekend, two things struck me: (1) I was using a very “bloggy” voice, even before we had identified such a thing (other than in personal journals) and (2) it’s sad that in 2008 too many of these practices are still inflicting pain on unsuspecting website visitors … and costing companies a lot of money and goodwill in the process.

Technology (Web 2.0) can not replace human-centered design!

I’ve converted six of the original columns and will be featuring them in blog posts throughout the coming days. Then I’ll convert some more! Let me know what you think, won’t you?

One of my goals in republishing these old columns is to kick-start a regular (ok, semi-regular) return to public website analysis. I have screenshots up the kazoo … whether I can remember why I took the screenshot, well, that’s another story! But we’ll see. There’s far more material than time. :-/

* a not-so-veiled reference to the geek directive, RTFM

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