Collaborative User Testing: Less Bias, Better Research

Man writing in a notebook next to a laptop.

I’ve always worked in small product teams that relied on guerrilla user testing. We’d aim to recruit the optimal number of participants for these tests. We’d make sure the demographic reflected our target audience. We’d use an informal approach to encourage more natural behavior and reduce the effect of biases participants could be prone to.

But you know what we almost never talked about? Ourselves. After all, we were evaluating work we had personal and emotional involvement in. I sometimes found myself questioning, how objective were our findings, really?

It turns out, they may not have been.

- Collaborative User Testing: Less Bias, Better Research · An A List Apart Article Alla Kholmatova

A Practical Guide to Writing an Effective Social Media Policy

Brian Honigman

However, the same characteristics that enable social media to benefit a company make it capable of destroying reputations if used incorrectly. To help encourage positive use of social media, while carefully mitigating any potential for risk, companies are finding it increasingly necessary to outline clear social media policies.

In much the same way that a mission statement provides overall direction for a company’s strategic decisions, and a style guide directs the way that your brand is presented visually to the public; a social media policy establishes a set of guidelines that govern how various company stakeholders represent your brand on various social networks.

- A practical guide to writing an effective social media policy Brian Honigman

I think most libraries already have Social Media policies by now but it’s always worth reviewing.

Get a warrant

Photo of a Samsung phone

In a 9-0 verdict, the justices found that fourth amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure extend to cellular phones, comparing the devices to homes in the extent of personal and private information found within them.

- Supreme Court to cops who want to search phones: “Get a warrant” - Boing Boing Rob Beschizza

Are there any libraries doing anything to help patrons understand their changing rights?

Just an information sheet of different rulings could be useful without leaving the library liable for interpretations.

ebooks choices and the missing soul of librarianship

Andromeda Yelton talks about the implications of the Adobe Digital Editions security issues.

This is about the fact that we do not have the technical skills to verify whether our products are in line with the values we espouse, the policies we hold, or even the contracts we sign, and we do not delegate this verification to others who do. Our failure to verify affects all the software we run.

I agree with her that we need to take stronger stances in contracts. Libraries spend too much money on a variety of content and services every year to just accept the barely acceptable products we usually receive for it.

Adobe Privacy & Security Hole


Adobe is gathering data on the ebooks that have been opened, which pages were read, and in what order. All of this data, including the title, publisher, and other metadata for the book is being sent to Adobe’s server in clear text.

I am not joking; Adobe is not only logging what users are doing, they’re also sending those logs to their servers in such a way that anyone running one of the servers in between can listen in and know everything,

But wait, there’s more.

Adobe isn’t just tracking what users are doing in DE4; this app was also scanning my computer, gathering the metadata from all of the ebooks sitting on my hard disk, and uploading that data to Adobe’s servers.

In. Plain. Text.

And just to be clear, this includes not just ebooks I opened in DE4, but also ebooks I store in calibre and every Epub ebook I happen to have sitting on my hard disk.

- Adobe is Spying on Users, Collecting Data on Their eBook Libraries - The Digital Reader Nate Hoffelder

I was just talking last week about my wish libraries would spend more time on electronic security. Patron privacy isn’t only one of librarianship’s core ideals, the trust we’ve built up over centuries is one of best resources, one that’s more important now than ever before as our patrons trust so few other organizations.

How US libraries are becoming community problem solvers

We must fundamentally change how we view libraries and move from a historical idea of libraries as merely physical repositories to seeing them as an opportunity for proactive community engagement.

- How US libraries are becoming community problem solvers | The Guardian Larra Clark

There is a great opportunity for public libraries in this area as one of the few public spaces left. But there is also a place for academic and special libraries as well. The community doesn’t differentiate between the different kinds, to them we’re all simply libraries.

Is Your Responsive Design Working? Google Analytics Will Tell You

Smashing Magazine Logo

Google Analytics has some great multi-device features built in; however, with responsive design, we are really designing for form factors, not for devices. In this article, we’ll demonstrate how WURFL.js and Google Analytics can work together to show performance metrics across form factors. No more guessing.

Smashing Magazine is one of the best of the online webdesign magazine. It’s well worth keeping up with for new techniques.

Library Terms That Users Understand [eScholarship]

eScholarship logo

This document is intended to help library web developers decide how to label key resources and services in such a way that most users can understand them well enough to make productive choices. It compiles data from usability studies evaluating terminology on library websites, and suggests test methods and best practices for reducing cognitive barriers caused by terminology, and provides an extensive list of resources.

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while. Jargon is one of my biggest concerns about library website design. We use all these terms just assuming that our patrons understand them without checking that they do.

Digital First Aid Kit: where to turn when you’re DoSed or have your accounts hijacked – Boing Boing

- Cory Doctorow

Digital Defenders Partnership logo
A group of NGOs, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, offer a suite of tools for diagnosing and mitigating the kinds of attacks faced by dissidents and independent media all over the world, especially when they threaten the powerful.The Digital First Aid Kit includes a secure communications layer, as well as sections on hacked accounts, DoS, seizure of devices and malware attacks on your site and network. You can modify and share the kit, downloading it from github, where it carries a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license.