Something that I've been mulling over is a discussion that Tom, Al and I were having about site usability. At the end of the day, we crave usability because it should equal higher levels of conversion (as Tom pointed out, this isn't necessarily conversion in the commercial sense, it might be an attitudinal conversion we're seeking out), 3-clicks and all that.
Working out how to make the most usable site is largely trial and error, research and testing, but will we get to a point where we create the perfect template for site performance within a genre and all sites in that genre will be built to more-or-less the same template? If a particular thing works and people respond to it, then it almost doesn't need to be pretty. That was the beauty of Google in the first instance.
Anyway site usability is on my mind a lot at the moment and therefore I'm noticing it everywhere else. I liked this quote by Julie Larson-Green of Microsoft: 'user interface is customer service for the computer'; with Windows 7 Microsoft are trying to make an OS that is intuitive to use so that users can 'reduce the amount of thinking about the software that they have to do' (here via here). Dhiren wrote something about how Go Compare are advertising usability as a USP. Wired have an article about Sian Townsend of Google whos job is 'finding the thing tht people find confusing, getting rid of that, and reducing stress' (p26, can't find a link). I like the fact it's called UX (user experience). I hadn't heard that before, but I'm going to start saying it whenever I can whether or not it's appropriate. UX.