Information on changes and updates to the IET website. Also features information on digital and online issues.

Latest Posts

Why everything you're doing is wrong.
Posted by Edward Oliver Higgins on Aug 2, 2013 10:01 AM BST
Some incredibly interesting facts about external links.
Posted by Edward Oliver Higgins on Aug 2, 2013 9:56 AM BST
Here in the IET's Digital Services team, we've long known how people read websites: they don't. read more...
Posted by John Day on Aug 1, 2013 2:16 PM BST
Words are powerful things and should not be underestimated when it comes to web-based interaction.  The words and language used in these interactions have a subliminal effect on the users of your web page, ultimately affecting how they interact with and use your content.

Ambiguous phrases such as "click here" and "read more" have long been dismissed by best practice guides, but what you should replace them with has not always been clear.

I just read an interesting article called The Grammar of Interactivity by Jonathan Richards, Interactive Editor on the Guardian, about the language used for website interactions, such as buttons.  In fact, his article predominantly refers to buttons, but the same principle applies to links in general.

It's a really good read and well worth it.
Posted by John Day on Feb 26, 2013 2:39 PM GMT
Anil Dash has an excellent post on the eveolution of the web and how things used to be called The Web We Lost. In it he makes some interesting points on how the profit motive has led to creation of closed eco-systems. He shows how open systems and standards made some interesting things possible, which are just not possible now.


 We've lost key features that we used to rely on, and worse, we've abandoned core values that used to be fundamental to the web world. To the credit of today's social networks, they've brought in hundreds of millions of new participants to these networks, and they've certainly made a small number of people rich.

But they haven't shown the web itself the respect and care it deserves, as a medium which has enabled them to succeed. And they've now narrowed the possibilites of the web for an entire generation of users who don't realize how much more innovative and meaningful their experience could be.

The argument he makes is more nuanced than the standard "open source good, proprietary bad". But the rise of closed networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc do raise some interesting questions about the basic structures and philsophy around web development.

Posted by Stewart Love on Dec 17, 2012 4:42 PM GMT
With it being Chrstmas I've decided to help IET members with a present idea. I just found out about this cool open source electrical engineering kit for the young, and young at heart, called the Arduino. They describe their prodcut as:

Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It's intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.

So it seems to me to be the eqivalent of a Raspberry Pi for electrical engineering.

They have a series of excellent turorial videos on YouTube which are really good at both telling you how to make things on the product as well as explaining the basic concepts of electrical engineering. As someone who know enough about electrical engineering to write it on the back of a stamp in marker pen, I certainly learned a lot.

So for all of you IET members looking for a christmas gift for you children/grand children this has to be high on your list. Remember you should buy it, not because they want it, but because its good for them.

Posted by Stewart Love on Nov 30, 2012 2:41 PM GMT
User testing is an extremely important element of any web project and an on-going method to make sure you are fixing those things on your website that really affect how people use it. We do regular user testing sessions here at the IET. Its important to test users using the actual product, as opposed to just telling you how they use it, because people will tell you different things to what they actually do. Also people want to be helpful so when you ask them questions they don't want to appear rude by telling you that a key facet of your new product is rubbish.

Well it seems that the people at 3 Sheets Research have found a way to make sure user testers really tell you what they are thinking. They have combined user testing with booze. If you really want to see how easy it is to use your new product, give it to a user all hopped up on goofballs and see how they get on. Like this lady testing the new Windows 8 operating system after tequila:

Posted by Stewart Love on Nov 9, 2012 10:21 AM GMT
Conspiracy theorists beware. Your traditional way to make sure the governement, Lizard cabal or whichever shadowy group of your choice is not spying on you may actually be making things worse. Yes, take off that tin foil hat. Quickly!

A recent study conducted by the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department, MIT, titled On the Effectiveness of Aluminium Foil Helmets: An Empirical Study, concludes that while the tin foil hat may work against some radio waves it actually amplifies others. 

The bad news for the conspiracy theorirst is that the frequencies amplified are those in the 2.6 Ghz (which are allocated for mobile communications and broadcast satellites) and 1.2 Ghz (which are allocated for aeronautical radionavigation and space-to-Earth and space-to-space satellites) bands.  So it will do nothing to stop the space based, thought reading, satellites trained on you.

Now the question is: did the government make up the tin foil hat theory to make it easier to spy on us? Or, is this research a plant by them to stop us wearing the hats because they are effective? I wonder what David Ike's take on this would be? 

H/T: The Atlantic
Posted by Stewart Love on Oct 2, 2012 11:04 AM BST
So, this seems to be my second Lego related post. Anymore and it will be a series. Still, you really have to watch the video of the fantastic Heath Robinson style Lego machine. It take a series of little balls and depostis them back to where they started.

You have to admire the engineering here. Well, I do anyway.

The creator Akiyuky has a blog post on how he created it, if you speak Japanese. Otherwise sit back and enjoy 7 minutes of wondefrully created pointlessness:

Posted by Stewart Love on Sep 24, 2012 2:21 PM BST
So, it's that time of year again, Apple product release day. In this case the iPhone 5. Geeks froth at the mouth. Fan boy sites speculate widly that the next model will pull thoughts directly from your mind, using a beautifully designed interface mind. Haters will point out that, yes it may be usable, but Android is better because they can hack it.

Somewhere in amongst all this fevered expectation will be the iPhone 5. Which will probably be a very nice phone. Let be honest the iPhone changed the game both in terms of design (they are beautiful) and usability (my dad, a confirmed luddite, was able to use it straight away).

However, as each new release comes we get slightly more jaded at the amazing things they can fit onto a phone and slightly less impressed by its ease of use. Why is that? Well according to Rian van der Merwe, over at his blog Elezea,  it can be explained with the Kano model. Take a look at his post - Why you shouldn’t be pre-disappointed with the next iPhone

Basically, when the iPhone first came out all the amazing things it did were excitement generators. Now, the ungrateful sods that we are, all those amazing things are just basic expectations. 

Anyway take a look at the Rian post, he explains it well. Though using the Kano theory, now I've built up your excitement on the post, you will be dissapointed as you now have an unrealistic expectation and it will fall into your basic expectation category.  read more...
Posted by Stewart Love on Sep 13, 2012 11:44 AM BST
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Most Recent Comments

My top 5 web gripes too....! ;o) Especially web pages of centre aligned coloured text in all different heading sizes...
Utterly pointless but great fun!
I, too, appreciated the irony there, James! However, at least there is sufficient teaser to provide some context in...
Good advice, albeit slightly ironic that when I first saw this post, it was immediately followed by the ubiquitous "...
Arduino is a great platform for budding electronic engineers on anyone wanting to introduce control to projects. W...