Thursday, May 31, 2007

NYTimes.com Continues to Provide Good User Experience

If you are reading a story on NYTimes.com and happen to double click on any word (and I mean ANY word in the entire story) a new window pops up with a definition of it! I stumbled across this by totally by accident. How long has this been there? Evidently they made a deal with answers.com last year to provide this service. Who knew!

As web users and designers we are already accustomed to seeing and applying in-context links in a story. This is a nice evolution to that valuable tool. Automatically making every word in the entire story an in-context link without providing any impact to the design or core experience is a nice tertiary tool readers can keep in their back pocket. They can read, spot underlined links on the page, or now double click anywhere else for more info. Cool stuff, especially on a site that uses above-average grammar most often.

It’s not perfect, however. When I double-clicked on "Blades" with the Will Ferrell movie "Blades of Glory" in context, a popup returned info on the Panamanian singer "Ruben Blades." But that’s ok. This mechanism is totally invisible to my online news experience. I don’t have to be aware of it unless there’s something I want more info on. The web experience is becoming more of an application experience where I build mental models. Yet again, NYTimes.com acquires good UX capital with me.

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