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Alertbox #200

Congratulations with Alertbox #200, Jakob Nielsen. This is an achievement worth celebrating. Keep on fighting.

 September 29, 2003

Micropayment systems to watch

Three notable Scandinavian micropayment systems:

 October 9, 2002

Recent Designs by Kristoffer Bohmann

Northern Jutland What's On ("Nordjylland Det Sker")
Nordjylland Det Sker homepage
Nordjylland Det Sker add event page
Add event page

Christa's Kitchen ("Christa's Køkken")

Christa's Kitchen homepage
Christa's Kitchen category page
Category page

 July 20, 2002

Non-intrusive popups in radio browsers

It's considered a fatal usability error when online radio listeners close their radio browser by accident because it stops their musical experience ("Hey, the music stopped. What happened?"). Virgin Radio solved the problem by adding a JavaScript that warns the user upon closing the browser window or navigating away from the page:

"Are you sure you want to navigate away from this page? You'll stop listening to Virgin Radio if you do. Press OK to continue or Cancel to stay on the current page." See screen capture of radio browser window with pop-up

Listening to online radio, music, and other audio differs from all other online experiences since you don't need to look at the browser window. The browser can work in the background without the user noticing it. However, this also means that the user may not notice that he is closing a browser which he is actually using.

Future browsers could better support online listening by making it possible to move the icon for a particular browser window from the default taskbar to the system tray (lower-right corner on your Windows desktop). This would make it harder to shut down an active radio browser by accident.

More on pop-ups:

 July 15, 2002

Celebrating July 4th

Why celebrate? To celebrate man's core achievements made possible through reason and individual rights. To celebrate the West's core values on which our lives depend.

 July 4, 2002

MediaHelper: A Little Less Clicking

Listening to online music can be hard. I wanted to listen to the remix of Elvis' A Little Less Conversation and found it on Yahoo UK. I clicked the song title and expected to listen to the music. But things turned out to be more difficult than that because my browser didn't accept cookies from the site.

Accordingly, Yahoo's MediaHelper (tm) tried to determine which player and connection speed I was using. The MediaHelper was unsuccessful because it couldn't save it's findings in a cookie on my machine. So, I had to choose the settings manually via several pages and pop-up windows. Annoying.

Ideally, users would see one link, click on it and listen. And this is exactly what the MediaHelper does when you accept cookies. The MediaHelper is reducing the number of multimedia links from 12 (3 players, 4 streaming formats) to one. Nice!

Listen now: (try to block cookies from before proceeding for experimental purposes)

A Little Less Conversation (if link is broken, use this link)

 July 2, 2002

Flash: One man, one TV show

My guess is this (Flash req'd) is how online presentations will look in a not-so-distant future.

Macromedia Executive Presentation by Jeremy Allaire (click for larger picture)
Macromedia's Jeremy Allaire (larger picture)

In effect, everybody can soon host their personal TV shows and interact with an international audience.

 June 19, 2002

Pictureless homepage

This is how the original homepage looks when GIF- and JPG-files don't load: See screenshot. It is possible to recognize the site. Still, logo, icons, and pictures are really important for the site's identity.

 June 18, 2002

How to include unsubscribe info in email newsletters

Magnus Nilsson from Mondial Portabla Media in Stockholm, Sweden, comments:
I just read your article Email Notifications: Making Unsubscription Easy and have one question. You write The problem is fixed by including this information: 'You are subscribed as'.

This is a good suggestion, but I don't know how to make it run on, for example, a newsletter service provided by an ordinary web hosting company... or if you run your list in your own e-mail programme. Do you address only people with their own web servers and programmers, or am I missing something?

Bohmann answers:
You can use Word and Excel (or Access) to create a simple system of your own.

1. Collect all subscriber emails in the column Subscriber_Email in an Excel spreadsheet (or Access database).

2. Create new Word document for your newsletter. Mail Merge your newsletter with the Excel spreadsheet by selecting Mail Merge in Word's Tools menu. A window opens, now press Main Document : Create : Form Letters : Active Window. This transforms your newsletter to a Mail Merge document. In Data Source, press Get Data : Open Data Source and select your Excel spreadsheet. Your newsletter is now merged with your subscriber emails.

3. Write your newsletter in Word. Insert this line in your newsletter document: 'You are subscribed as {Subscriber_Email chosen from Insert Merge Field)}'.

4. Press Merge and then Merge to electronic email. You can edit header in Setup.

 June 12, 2002

Denmark-France 2-0

French world champions were seriously beaten by Denmark in the FIFA WorldCup: 2-0. Way to go, Denmark. Denmark have now entered the second round in the WorldCup.

FIFA's site has impressive content. They publish live commentary and live photos during the football (soccer) match. Unfortunately users must refresh the page manually to get the latest (or wait 2 minutes for automatic refresh). Jakob Nielsen, this could be another way to use Flash ... push live commentary into the browser during live events to create a close-to-live experience.

P.S.: FIFA WorldCup site is hosted by Yahoo... creative way to generate traffic for

Fredrik K.R. Norman: Gotta say I was cheering for the Danish team today... Ever since the Laudrup brothers ruled the pitch, I've had a preference for the open style of Danish football vs. the horrible collectivist machine style used by Norway. Go beat the rest of'em as well! (Except maybe Italy ;-)
[Update June 15:] Denmark-England 0-3. So it goes...

 June 11, 2002

Text sizing must read

Stylesheets often cause problems for designers when they test their designs in different browsers. Owen Briggs created 264 screenshots to find a useful way to size text in the most popular browsers. Text size should match the designer's intended size in default mode and support resizing in users' browsers. The experiment includes twelve sizing methods with results from ten browsers. Backgrounder on the experiment.

Conclusions are in the making. However, the major text sizing problems are:

I would add another issue: Resizing headlines H1-H6 in your stylesheet creates new problems since percentage doesn't work in IE PC version 6.0 (keywords work). Documentation for this finding is shown in this screenshot (HTML for this screenshot). Trouble resizing H1-H6 often lead designers to choose private ways to format the size of their headlines ... which typically results in new browser compatibility problems. And the HTML code for headlines becomes more complex than a simple H1-tag.

[Correction:] I was in error when I wrote that "120 PERCENT and 80 PERCENT should increase/decrease size of H1- H5 by 120% and 80%. But it doesn't work." I withdraw my argument. (June 8, 2002)

Owen Briggs correctly comments:

quote, "120 PERCENT and 80 PERCENT should increase/decrease size of H1- H5 by 120% and 80%. But it doesn't work."

Er, no... H1 style="font-size: 80%" should make the H1 80% of the default font size, not the default H1 size.

Does the W3C spec somewhere have your interpretation? All I can find is "There are six levels of headings in HTML with H1 as the most important and H6 as the least. Visual browsers usually render more important headings in larger fonts than less important ones." And under font-size, "Percentage values: relative to parent element's font size."

When font-size is applied, it is relative to the parent element's font size, not relative to the browser's default for that element. The parent element for a heading is usually the BODY or HTML tags, so in that case an 80% H1 will be 80% of the size of raw text inserted in body.

CSS rules replace the browser's equivalent rule, not modify the browser's equivalent rule. Essentially, things act like the browser has a stylesheet. Normal rules of cascade apply.

 June 8, 2002


Bohmann Usability is official 2002/03 sponsor for the Danish Taxpayers Association (in English).

 June 6, 2002

Jakomedia Flash

Macromedia have partnered with Jakob Nielsen to create Flash guidelines. Two years ago Nielsen stated that Flash is 99% bad as the technology is encouraging design overkill, making navigation hard, and removing user attention from core content. The 2002 Flash MX version have, according to Nielsen, fixed most of these problems. Nielsen does not, however, reveal how the new version is better. We are only told that: I expect the Flash guidelines to be important not only to Flash developers but to anyone else involved in multimedia development on the Web. Some of the questions that usability researchers needs to answer are: See also Macromedia Flash on usability, Macromedia's top 10 usability tips for Flash web sites, and

 June 2, 2002

I'm back

 June 1, 2002

Microsoft Settlement: Protect Producers and Consumers, Not Moochers and Looters

Microsoft Settlement: Protect Producers and Consumers, Not Moochers and Looters. Anti-Microsofters and anti-capitalists use morally bankrupt concepts in their pursuit for government intervention in the Microsoft settlement. Defenders of Microsoft must base their arguments on corporate property rights to establish a strong and consistent argument.

 February 16, 2002

Showtime in 3D

Last week I went to a 3D movie theatre in Berlin to explore its 3D viewing technology. Some of the scenes showed actors in a way that made me think I was walking among them. The experience was in part made possible through good film making. And through a giant screen fully visible from all seats in the theatre. Impressive.

 February 5, 2002 - By Kristoffer Bohmann

Usability the Danish way?

Interesting official site from a Danish study programme in usability (you don't need to understand Danish to browse this site). The site is using drill-down menus, frames, non-standard link colors, visited links do not differ from unvisited links, prominent primary navigation, bookmarking is not possible since all URLs redirect to the homepage, and the browser scrollbar is deactivated and replaced by a JavaScript interaction gadget. They even misspelled Jakob Nielsen's name. It reminds me of sites such as and

I wonder how management could let the site go online. And I worry about the quality of formal education in human computer interaction and usability engineering. Usability the Danish way? I don't think so.

 January 9, 2002

How you can help Microsoft

U.S. Department of Justice invites public comments on the Microsoft antitrust settlement until January 28. You can submit your viewpoint for review and possibly inclusion in the settlement case. Your viewpoint can only be considered if you make yourself heard.

Send your statement ASAP to (Subject line in your email must be "Microsoft Settlement"). Deadline is January 28. You can also learn more about settlement documents before you email.

My previous writings on the Microsoft antitrust settlement include:

 January 7, 2002

Saving Microsoft from mob rulers

Tom Smith of InternetWeek has an excellent editorial stating that Microsoft should receive credit for focusing on what counts. Microsoft is the customer-centered company in the computer industry. Still, mob rulers continue their verbal and legal demands on Microsoft. That these demands would violate Microsoft's property rights if realized doesn't seem to bother them. Protecting Microsoft against such arbitrary demands is important to maintain a free computer industry based on private property rights.

 January 3, 2002

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