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1

Open new windows for PDF and other non-web documents

If you must use PDF or other PC-native documents on websites, open them in new windows. Jakob Nielsen gives the following guidelines:

- Open non-web documents in a new browser window.
- Warn users in advance that a new window will appear.
- Remove the browser chrome (such as the back button) from the new window.

According to Jakob Nielsen, users feel like they're interacting with a PC application when using PC-native file formats. When people are finished, they click the window's close button instead of the back button, and are surprised that the web page is gone. Because they are no longer browsing a website, they shouldn't be given a browser interface.

Links:

  • The article Open New Windows for PDF and other Non-Web Documents

Henrik Olsen - August 29, 2005

Permanent link Comments (1)

See also: Tips and guidelines (60) 


 

2

Introduction to information scent

This article by Iain Barker introduces the concept of information scent and explains how creating strong information scents enables users to confidently step through a site and find the information they require.

"The principles around how to create stronger information scents are quite simple, providing users with more context makes it easier for them to select the best option."

Links:

  • The article Information scent: helping people find the content they want

Henrik Olsen - August 15, 2005 - via Column Two

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Primers (8) 


 

3

Categorization doesn't work for large amounts of information

According to Clay Shirky, the ways we apply categorization to the electronic world are based on bad habits. In his opinion tagging (free-form labelling, without regard to categorical constraints) is a better fit for large amounts of information.

Categorization can work for a limited information space that is based on formal and stable entities organized by small number of expert cataloguers. But it doesn't work for a large amount of information that has no formal categories and a non-expert user base.

Links:

  • The article Ontology is Overrated: Categories, Links, and Tags

Henrik Olsen - May 22, 2005 - via InfoDesign

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Search engines (7)  Information architecture (10) 


 

4

Browse vs. search

This paper describes an interesting study of e-commerce sites that was set up to determine factors involved in the decision to use search or browse menus to find products.

According to the authors Michael A. Katz and Michael D. Byrne, the decision of a user to search or browse a site is affected by multiple factors including:
- The site information architecture in terms of labeling and menu structure
- The user's inclination to search
- The prominence of search and browse areas

They found that:
- Given broad, high-scent menus, participants searched less than 10% of the time, but they searched almost 40% of the time when faced with narrow, low-scent menus
- Participants showed a higher success rate when using the menus to find products as opposed to search
- Searching for products wasn't faster or more accurate than browsing

Links:

Henrik Olsen - February 24, 2005

Permanent link Comments (1)

See also: Search (20)  E-commerce (21)  Research (82) 


 

5

Banner blindness is determined by navigation style

In a study, Magnus Pagedarm and Heike Schaumbrug found that when users browse websites "aimlessly", they are significantly better at recalling and recognising banner ads compared to users searching for specific information.

The authors suggest that navigation style exerts a significant influence on users' attention focusing. Directed search focuses users' attention on areas of the site that are expected to contain relevant information, while aimless browsing is guided by the appeal of the different features on a web page.

Links:

  • The article Why Are Users Banner-Blind?

Henrik Olsen - January 11, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Ads (6)  Research (82) 


 

6

Navigation blindness

The Q1 2005 issue of GUUUI looks at how people navigate websites. Most web development projects put a lot of effort into the design of navigation tools, but fact is that users tend to ignore them. They are fixated on getting what they came for and simply click on links or hit the back button to get there. This behaviour suggests that navigation should be designed to be a more integral part of website experience.

Links:

Henrik Olsen - January 04, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: GUUUI articles (7) 


 

7

Trigger words makes users dig into a site

According to Jared Spool, users browse websites using a Move-Forward-Until-Found Rule:

"...a web page can do only one of two things: either it contains the content the user wants or it contains the links to get them to the content they want. If a page doesn't follow this rule, then the users stop clicking..."

Trigger words is what makes users dig in to a site - words that contain the essential elements that provide the motivation to continue with the site.

In a study where the test participants were first interviewed about what they hoped to find on a number of large websites, UIE found that when the participants were successful in finding their target content, the words that they used in the interview appeared 72% of the time on the site's front page. When they where unsuccessful, their words appeared only 6% of the time.

UIE also found that when the participants didn't find any trigger words, they were far more likely to use the site's search function.

Links:

  • The article The Right Trigger Words

Henrik Olsen - December 13, 2004

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Text (12)  Links (10)  Research (82) 


 

8

Is Navigation Useful?

In an article from 2000, Jakob Nielsen states that navigation is overdone at many sites. His studies have shown the same user behaviour over and over again:

- Users look straight at content and ignore navigation areas
- Users look only for the one thing they have in mind
- Users will ruthlessly click the Back button if a page isn't relevant to the their goals
- Users don't understand where they are in a website
- Users don't spend time learning certain design elements

Nielsen's advice is to get rid of superfluous navigation:

- Limit pervasive linking to maybe five or six things
- Do not link to all sections from all pages - let people go back to the front page
- Use breadcrumbs to link to all levels of the hierarchy above the current location
- Provide useful links to related content

Links:

  • The article Is Navigation Useful?

Henrik Olsen - December 03, 2004

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Tips and guidelines (60) 


 

9

Paging vs. scrolling search results

In a study from 2002, SURL examined how much information should be presented at one time on a search result page.

In the study, users were asked to locate specific links on three different search result pages:
- One layout with 10 links per page
- One with 50 links per page
- One with 100 links on one page

The study showed that participants favoured and performed best on layouts with both reduced paging and scrolling.

Overall, the fifty-link condition had the fastest search time and was most preferred, possible because this layout required only a limited amount of paging.

The layout with hundred links page was by far least preferred, while the ten link layout performed the worst.

Links:

  • The article Paging vs. Scrolling

Henrik Olsen - September 18, 2004

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Search (20)  Research (82) 


 

10

Designing the optimal flow

Psychologists have studied "optimal human experience" for many years, often called "being in the flow". In his paper, Benjamin B. Bederson reviews the literature on flow, and takes a look at how it can be related to interface design.

An optimal flow has the following characteristics:
- It challenges us and requires skill without being too hard to use
- It makes it possible for us to concentrate and focus at the task at hand without interruption
- It allow us to stay in control
- It gives us immediate feedback about progress
- It makes us lose track of time

What is most surprising about the findings is that when we experience the optimal flow, we are challenged and have to spend effort to acquire skills.

Links:

  • The paper Interfaces for Staying in the Flow

Henrik Olsen - September 08, 2004 - via UI Designer

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Research (82) 


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