Label alignment in forms

Once in a while an article author writes his silver bullet and receives fame, money, power and girls from it… well… sort of :-)

My most read creation is without a doubt the 2006 article, appeared on the US web magazine UXmatters, Label placement in forms: I prepared an experimental set-up to test different types of forms using eye-tracking technology and reported my findings in the article.

Well, not only it’s the most read article ever on UXmatters; it attracted more than 100 comments and it’s a top referenced article when speaking about form designs: the findings were largerly included in the 2007 book “Web form Design” by Yahoo Chief Design Architect, Luke Wroblesky.

Recently the nice people at UXmatters have been so kind to prepare an article for their column “Ask UXmatters” were my findings were hilighted again with contributes by highly experienced UX people such as Michael Griffith—User Experience Director at Hewlett-Packard or Whitney Quesenbery-Past-President, Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA).

Some of them do agree with me, some others don’t. But that’s not the point (I’m always happy when people disagree with me, because that is the point were the discussion starts). The fact is that I’m really re-energized to work at a brand new article on form design tested using eyetracking technology and something new might come out in the forthcoming months.

Wine is love

My first "wine lovers" bottleI’ve recently applied for the Francesco Zonin‘s (Cantine Zonin is one of the greatest Wine companies here in Italy) new marketing initiative named Wine is Love (more on this on the linked Francesco’s blog, in Italian only) where some wine lovers bloggers are going to receive premieres bottles from the wine maker just to enjoy them.

The first bottle I’ve received is a Primitivo di Manduria (note: the English version of this Wikipedia page does not exiest) produced by the Masseria Altemura (which is owned by the Zonin’s) and has layed a couple of months in my cellar waiting for the right chance to be opened. I’ve to say that I proposed to our friends on the upper floor to celebrate each of the bottles I’m going to receive with a special wine tasting dinner to give these wines the respect they deserve.

For the Altemura di Altemura we arranged a full black suite table with demi-ballons glasses, black water glasses and design cutleries.

The main course was a superbly coocked roasted guineafowl on a bed of spinaches and green beans. A bamboo cup of chinese rice boiled with garlic made the rest.

We started the evening by reading the birth of this wine from the words of its creator (I’m gonna ask permission to Francesco Zonin to have this published) while the bottle sat opened on the table for more or less half an hour; we decided not to read the organolecptic table but to desume them by ourselves (we prepared a couple of “technical” booklets where to annotate our feelings about this wine and the dinner).

Smelling (with my wife trying to make me laugh)

The wine is plenty with strawberry and mixed berries, with a round corpus and well balanced tannines (I’m absolutely not a technician in this field and my English vocabulary is lacking too many wine related words to going deep into the description :-) ); we thought it would have had a great benefit of another couple of years rest to reach complete perfection, but it was a marvellous wine indeed.

Just a final note about the last sentence we wrote down: “Immediately order a couple of dozens of these bottles“. I wasn’t able to find any ecommerce on the Zonin’s site; Francesco: can you help?

Test driving the iLiad

I appreciated the marketing initiatives of the Simplicissimus patron Antonio Tombolini since when I first met them during the “Pesto al blogger” promo. Antonio is now in the eBook business (too, I’d add) and his company is the Italian distributor for the iRex iLiad ebook reader; and again they came up with a cool marketing idea: taking one iLiad and have it travel through Italy from one blogger to the other.That’s how some weeks ago I received a box with the iLiad that travelled for more then 6 months from blogger to blogger (and sign of this travel were visible both externally and internally the device :-) ) and tested it for a whole week (it also happened to pass to my friend Massimo Pettiti, Innovation Director at 3 Italy).The main reason I subscribed to the test was that I am really interested in this type of technology and wanted to touch it before spending money.

Fast forward to the end, before my personal considerations, am I going to buy it? In one word: no.Here below the four main aspects I consider relevant:

  • Screen technology: the iLiad uses the eInk technology for displays and boys it really rocks! The reading experience (and the images too) was far better then any other digital display (LCDs/LEDs based or portable devices such as the iPhone/iPod Touch) I ever owned. It was really like reading paper: the more the light the better the experience. YES.
  • Haptic interface: even if the iLiad weights more or less as a normal paper book I had serious problems in managing it in every position but being sitted with the device (preferably) in both my hands: reading while in bed was almost impossible since my hand covered part of the screen and every time I had to turn the page I had to change position. All the navigation buttons are placed on the left and are quite difficult to be understood (even if the affordance of the “turn page bar” is really good). NO.
  • User interface: page selection is a pain in the arse; the icons meaning is mostly obscure and no alternative text appears to help; I really disliked everything about it. NO NO.
  • Battery life: I received it with half the battery, used it daily, passed to Massimo for one week and sent it to the next blogger without recharging. Cool! YES.

The iLiad is a great reader; it’s plenty with connections (comes with wi-fi on board) and expansions (two different MM card slots) capabilities. But unfortunately the overall experience is too low on user interaction and the paper-book still wins.