Clicks & Notes

27 March 2005

Enterprise IT News

A trio of press releases…

Forrester Research - Top IT Priorities For European Enterprises In 2005

  • Infrastructure consolidation: Almost two-thirds of European enterprises plan to prioritize efforts to consolidate existing IT infrastructure — a quarter of them consider it a top priority for 2005.
  • Security and business continuity: Nearly 60% of European firms rank the upgrade of their security systems as a high priority; 48% of them intend to renew existing disaster recovery capabilities.
  • Packaged applications: Forty-nine percent of European enterprises place the deployment or upgrade of a major application software package as a top IT priority in 2005.
  • PC refresh: Forty-eight percent of European enterprises will replace or upgrade their existing PCs.

Forrester Research - A Dashboard For IT Management

New research from Forrester points to a convergence of disciplines that will result in an integrated IT management (IIM) dashboard, allowing IT managers to reduce IT budgets by as much as 30 percent while realizing value increases of 10 to 15 percent in the first year.

Other benefits include:

  • A dashboard with requests, priorities, resource allocation, schedules, and completed activities.
  • Centralized IT work requests for a true sense of demands against IT resources.
  • Enterprisewide views that permit cross-enterprise resource allocation.
  • A business-level view of concurrent and conflicting IT priorities.
  • High-level analysis and reporting, with drill-downs into specific metrics.

Forrester Research - Top Five Challenges For Enterprise IT Infrastructure Managers – And How To Resolve Them

  • the top five challenges are:
    • Consistent End-To-End Application And Service Performance Guarantees
    • Unplanned Infrastructure Changes Resulting In Incidents And Downtime
    • Unanticipated Infrastructure Effects From Consolidation And New Application Projects
    • Misconfiguration Of Network Objects
    • Wide Area Network Performance

Update: Another press release by Forrester, dating from last fall:

Forrester Research - The Five Top Measurable Metrics IT Management Should Focus On

  1. Alignment with business strategy. This should be the No. 1 metric that IT management uses to measure itself. Failure in alignment will almost certainly result in an IT organization that is viewed at best as a cost center to be managed.
  2. Stewardship of the IT budget. This is the second critical metric. While measuring actual results versus planned results is a sold metric, the ratio of IT budget spent on maintaining the status quo versus spending on new initiatives is a more powerful financial measure.
  3. User/customer satisfaction. This is a key element since IT essentially exists to serve its users. Measuring their satisfaction needs to be part of any IT management systems. We recommend an index that comprises survey results, interviews, and focus groups.
  4. An operational stability index. This should be calculated from three component metrics – availability, responsiveness, and security related outages.
  5. Future orientation. Long-term success of IT is based on the ability to attract, retain, and motivate skilled IT employees. Consequently, a metric that focuses on the human capital dimension of IT needs to be part of the measurement set.

See also:

InformationWeek Weblog - Do businesses want IT staffs to light a spark—or just keep the lights on?

A.T. Kearney released a report Wednesday showing that 30% of executives believe 20% or more of their companies’ annual IT budget is wasted, and is focused more on maintenance rather than growth initiatives.

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 2:06 pm

20 March 2005

More Email Tips

HBS Working Knowledge - Tips for Mastering E-mail Overload

Lengthy checklist of tips, including several ways for you to make the email that you send to other people more clear and effective.

Standout bits:

  • “Use a subject line to summarize, not describe” – put another way, the subject line should be content, and not metadata
  • “Give your reader full context at the start of your message” – don’t make the reader hunt through a thread of replies to figure out what you’re talking about
  • “When you copy lots of people (a heinous practices that should be used sparingly), mark out why each person should care” – preface the message with action items for each recipient
  • “Separate topics into separate e-mails… up to a point” – important when some topics can be responded to right away, and others cannot; also good for separate the controversial from the mundane; on the other hand, don’t overload someone with a bunch of tiny messages

See also this previous post: Managing Email

Update 22 March 2005: A few related blog posts…

Slacker Manager - Subject line tricks and Slacker Manager - Subject line tricks redux

  • suggestions for useful abbreviations that you can include in the subject lines of your emails

Fast Company - Intel’s Got (Too Much) Mail

  • an article dating from 2001, which notes:

    Employees of the semiconductor giant collectively average 3 million emails a day… with some people racking up as many as 300 messages in one 24-hour period.

  • includes a list of Intel’s “10 Commandments of Email”
⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 11:49 am

PowerPoint and the First Five Slides

beyond bullets - The First Five Slides

  • Cliff Atkinson writes the following about giving presentations:

    If you don’t fully engage your audience within the first five slides of your presentation, you might as well pack up your projector and go home. No matter what your topic, every audience has a set of questions they are silently asking, and it’s up to you to answer them quickly or risk losing the privilege of their attention.

  • rather than being lists of bullets points, the slides should form the foundation for an engaging and persuasive story
  • see also: beyond bullets - The 5-Minute Storyboard for a storyboard template for PowerPoint
⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 10:14 am

16 March 2005

Sample Character Traits for Personas

Anecdote - Character traits

  • features a poster-size (PDF, 352 kb) laundry list of adjectives (e.g. “cranky", “flexible", “nervous", “thoughtful") that you can use to describe the people in personas that you construct
  • (via Column Two)

See also these previous posts on persona construction:

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 10:03 pm

CSS Layout Links

CommunityMX - Creating Liquid Faux Columns

  • creating liquid equal-height columns
  • (via mezzoblue)

Stopdesign - Liquid Bleach

  • offers these three pointers for creating liquid layouts:
    • double-div columns
    • use fixed-width gutters
    • avoid fixed-width columns
  • (also via mezzoblue)

Anne’s Weblog about Markup & Style - Super simple clearing floats

joshuaink - A simple introduction to 3 column layouts

  • introductory HOWTO with downloadable samples
  • (via - CSS tips for coders: The only layout rule you need to know

  • float vs. absolute positioning
  • (also via
⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 9:05 pm

General Design Links

Before & After

  • a graphic design magazine that’s currently offering two interesting articles as PDFs for free to non-subscribers:
    • “How to Find the Perfect Color” – deriving a colour palette from a photograph
    • “Design Easy Cover Patterns” – using repeating shapes
  • (via Seth’s Blog)


  • an “interactive visual font search system” for when you don’t know what kind of font you’re looking for
  • (via xBlog)

Typographica - Our Favorite Fonts of 2004

  • it doesn’t appear that any of these fonts are free, but they are nice to look at
  • (via Mezzoblue)

FontEditor BitfontMaker


  • a weblog with pointers to free fonts online
  • (via LifeHacker, as are the remaining links in this post)

Designers Toolbox

  • references and resources for online and print designers

Color Schemer

  • choose a colour by RGB or hex value, and get a palette of complementary colours

Red Alt - I Like Your Colors

  • type in the URL of a webpage you like, and get a list of hex codes for the colours used on the page - Color Blender

  • pick two different colours and get a list of up to ten different intermediary colours

Lifehacker - Free stock photography

  • a list of links to websites offering free stock photography
⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 8:24 pm

Been Busy

Apologies to the few folks who’ve been visiting here regularly over the last two weeks and finding nothing new. I’ve been busy taking some classes and doing some job hunting.

I hope to have some new material up on the blog sometime tonight.

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 12:28 pm

02 March 2005

Steps in Creating Quality Personas

Avenue A / Razorfish - Creating Quality Personas: Understanding the Levers that Drive User Behavior (PDF, 778 kb)

The persona is a design tool that enforces discipline in the site development process. Because there are many ways to define a user and his or her complex set of motivations, creating a precise persona with a detailed personality, background and behavior helps to focus the design team on meeting the distinct goals and needs of a particular user type. In addition, defining and designing for a set of specific personas helps to avoid the common practice of trying to design for all users.

  • three basic steps in the persona development process:
    • identify target research segments – review a company’s existing customer segments and supporting market research
    • conduct qualitative research with real people – techniques can include ethnographic observation and interviews, diaries, etc.
    • analyze the data and develop the personas – look for attitudinal patterns, contexts, behaviors
  • scope considerations for persona development:
    • size and diversity of the customer base
    • geographic reach
    • depth of behavioral frameworks – deeper insights require multiple data collection methods and more intensive analysis
    • desire to quantify qualitative results – personas can be “tested” through quanitative methods such as surveying

(Via GUUUI.)

See also this previous post: Creating Personas

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 11:56 pm

Usability, IA, and Analytics - Prioritize Usability Testing and Web Analytics

  • usability testing and web analytics have a common goal – measuring a site’s ability to drive user conversions – but they approach this differently:

    Web analytics measure visitor intent and persuasive momentum, as well as the site’s ability to move visitors through a conversion scenario.

    Usability examines the site’s interface and process barriers that keep visitors from accomplishing a conversion task.

  • using analytics allows you to track actual actions taken on the site, in real time, with a very large sample group
  • usability testing, with individual respondents, provides insight into what happens in particular instances; however, artificial nature of the testing environment doesn’t necessarily provide an accurate reflection of user engagement
  • on combining the two approaches:

    Generally speaking, use Web analytics to determine where to make site changes and usability tests to determine what to test.

(Via Column Two.)

Update 03 March 2005: One thing that occured to me (and is not – in my mind – explicity stated in the above-noted article) about making use of both web analytics and usability testing when optimizing your site:

  • analytics will tell you where the roadblocks occur on your site; usability testing will tell you why

Hurol Inan - Web Analytics – The Voice of Users in Information Architecture Projects, and Hurol Inan - Information Architecture through Web Analytics

  • both articles discuss incorporating web analytics into the information architecture process
  • areas examined by a web analyst include:
    • Website usage by content category
    • Popular and not-so-popular elements of each content category
    • Affinity between content categories
    • Major tasks and possible frustration points
    • On-site search usage, including where users revert to searching

Hurol Inan - Information Architecture – The Key to HTML Email Optimization

  • designing an HTML email is also a form of information architecture
  • regarding email click-to-open rates:

    A great majority of users only click on a single link – with the average number of clicks by a clicking user ranging anywhere from 1.2 to 1.8

  • applying IA principles to email can improve this rate dramatically – in one case:

    We saw a 50% improvement on the click-to-open rate and a four-fold increase on clicks on feature content.

(Preceding three links via iaSlash.)

See also this previous post: Web Analytics and Continual Site Optimization

⇒ Filed under:  by jen @ 11:23 pm

© Jennifer Vetterli, 2005