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Being Critical

Yesterday I shared a lot of my time between the Crit Room and the Usability Labs. 

In the Crit Room websites are volunteered in advance for analysis by MW2008 delegates, and then ripped apart by a panel of experts! It was interesting to see how the experts saw flaws from different angles - design, usability, and access were the main approaches.

In the Usability Labs websites are submitted for testing, with certain scenarios devised so that a randomly selected user (that has never used the website) has to navigate their way to a certain area, or find information. The presenters, users, and the audience then discuss problems. This is very helpful to see where the website is flawed - it's often difficult to see basic issues when you are so close to a project.

I also went to a workshop by Gail Durbin from the V&A Museum, who have clearly done a lot of work into developing and researching social networking sites. 

It was interesting to hear how they were inundated with comments on their Kylie Minogue exhibition website, and had to change the wording to refine the information and feedback they were collecting. But it's important to keep the comments online as long as people contribute within the rules set down by the institution.

We also had a challenge to develop two web 2.0 tasks - one verbal and one visual, which was difficult to feed back on due to the number of people in the session! We were also showed the V&A's fantastic World Beach Project, I look forward to doing further research on the website when I have some time.

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