To the front pageThe Interaction Designer's Coffee Break - Weekly postings and quarterly articles about interaction design  
  To the front pageSign inTo the frontpageSearch in GUUUI postingsAbout GUUUI  
   
 

BROWSE GUUUI POSTINGS

Navigation (44)  Web page design (23)  Search (21)  Guidelines and Standards (10)  Links (10)  Text (14)  Forms (11)  Ads (6)  Site design (8)  Shopping Charts (5)  Error handling (5)  Sections (5)  Home pages (2)  Design patterns (2)  E-mails (1)  Personalization (1)  Sitemaps (1)  Print-freindly (1)  Help (2) 
 

1

Donald Norman's guidelines on writing manuals

"Is a manual important? Yes, but even more important is a well-designed product, one so well conceived and constructed that either the manual is not needed at all, or if it is, where the manual can be short, simple, and easy to understand and then to remember."

Norman suggests the following rules to accomplish this:
- Use excellent technical writers
- Make the writers part of the design team
- Let people get right to work with minimum reading by using short and simple explanations with illustrations
- Test the manual with people from the intended user community
- Get rid of the lawyers (or at the least, put their required warnings in a seperate appendix)

Links:

  • How To Write an Effective Manual

Henrik Olsen - January 03, 2006

Permanent link Comments (1)

See also: Help (2)  Text (14) 


 

2

Only experts use help

In usability tests Jensen Harris has observed that help in Microsoft Office is mostly used by experts and enthusiasts. While novices and intermediates click around and experiment, experts try to reason thing out and look them up in help.

Jensen suggests that reasons for the varied usage of help include:
- Only experts know the "magic" words to bring up what they're looking for
- Help doesn't help you become familiar with a piece of software - it's designed to troubleshoot, not to teach.
- The process of experimenting with the product is totally removed from opening and reading articles in the help window
- Experts use more of the powerful and involved features, and thus benefit from the help system more.

Links:

  • Help Is For Experts

Henrik Olsen - December 17, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Help (2)  Research (88) 


 

3

Scent, Search, and the Pursuit of User Happiness

Jared M. Spool has made his presentation Scent, Search, and the Pursuit of User Happiness available online. Download a MP3 and a PDF, listen to the presentation in its entirety and see all the examples using the presentation handout.

Spool shares practical design strategies from effective web sites and shows:
- How the best teams allocate their resources by focusing on the most important content on the site and how this affects every page
- Proven design techniques, such as persona-based design, to help teams understand what users need from the site
- Why the most effective sites never relaunch, yet manage to always have fresh designs
- How we can utilize the scent of information and how people search for their content to give your site a huge advantage

Links:

  • The presentation Scent, Search, and the Pursuit of User Happiness

Henrik Olsen - December 09, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Navigation (44)  Personas (13)  The design process (14) 


 

4

Best bets - hand-crafted search results

Much can be done to improve the quality of search results. But according to James Robertson, no amount of tweaking search engines will ensure that the most relevant results always appear at the beginning of the list. This is where "best bets" come in.

Best bets are a hand-created list of key resources for common queries, presented prominently at the beginning of the search results. By analyzing search statistics, we can ensure that the most useful pages are listed right at the top of popular searches.

Links:

  • Search engine 'best bets'

Henrik Olsen - December 06, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Tips and guidelines (63)  Search (21) 


 

5

Designing pages listing links to content

According to Jared Spool, gallery pages - pages listing links to content pages - are the hardest working pages a web site. They separate those users who find the content they are looking for from the users who don't.

Studies by UIE show that when gallery pages don't contain the information that users will need to make their choice, they have to resort to "pogosticking" - jumping back and forth between the gallery and the content pages hoping they'll eventually hit the content they desire.

UIE also noticed that users expect the most important items to always be listed first in the gallery. If the first few items aren't of interest, they often assume the rest will be even less interesting.

Links:

  • Galleries: The Hardest Working Page on Your Site

Henrik Olsen - December 01, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Navigation (44)  Web page design (23)  Sections (5)  Persuasive design (12)  Research (88) 


 

6

The eight types of navigation pages

Watching users search for content, UIE realized that there are essentially eight types of navigation pages a user can run into:

- Content pages
- Galleries, listing links to content pages
- Departments, used to list links to gallery pages
- Stores, used to segment content areas (e.g. World, Business, Sports etc. on a new site) and list links to departments
- Gallery-level search results, which are similar to gallery pages, except they are search engine generated results
- Department-level search results, used to divide search results into departments to assist in the winnowing process
- Search entry page, where the user enters their search query (frequently a section of a page)
- Home page (landing pages) tasked with orienting users in the right direction

According to Jared Spool, the most navigation failures are due to poorly-designed gallery pages that don't reveal what's on the content pages they link to.

Links:

  • The article The 8 Types of Navigation Pages

Henrik Olsen - November 29, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Navigation (44) 


 

7

Explain icons with labels

Part of the user experience efforts around Outlook 98 was improving the menu and toolbar structure. One of the problems that were noticed was that non-expert users didn't use the toolbar at all. One change caused a total turnaround: labeling the important toolbar buttons.

According to Jensen Harris icons can work by themselves, but the richness is just not there relative to human language.

Links:

  • The Importance Of Labels

Henrik Olsen - November 06, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Navigation (44)  Text (14)  Tips and guidelines (63) 


 

8

Drop-downs or radio buttons

Dissatisfied with guidelines from the old GUI days that tell us to use drop-downs for long lists and radio buttons for short ones, Donna Maurer has done some thinking herself:

- When users are unfamiliar with the items in a list, radio buttons can assist them by communicating the domain at a glance
- On forms that will be used frequently, radio buttons are far easier and faster because they don't have to be opened and are easier to take in a glance
- When designing for the web screen real estate isn't an issue because of "the magic gadget called a scroll bar."
- Since frequent users become familiar with placement of items on a screen, the spatial placement of radio buttons can help them fill them in quickly
- Experienced users might prefer drop-down list that allow them type the first letter to get to the target item

Donna concludes that it all depends on user context, not on size.

Links:

  • It's not about size, it's about context - radio buttons or drop-downs

Henrik Olsen - October 29, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Tips and guidelines (63)  Forms (11) 


 

9

Global navigation is rarely helpful

According to Jared Spool from UIE, persistent global navigation isn't important to users:

"Maybe they'll click on the global navigation on the home page (however, probably not, if the page is well designed). Then they'll never click on it again, because, after all, they are now looking for local information - not global information"

"We've observed that it's almost always the case that if a user is clicking on global navigation, it's because they are completely lost."

"Having global navigation isn't a bad thing. It's just not something that should garner a lot of resources, as it's unlikely to be important in the user experience."

Links:

  • The article Global Site Navigation: Not Worthwhile?

Henrik Olsen - October 21, 2005 - via Usernomics

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Research (88)  Navigation (44) 


 

10

Users' expectations of search

Based on a usability test of a system that allows people to search a large set of content Donna Maurer interpreted the users' expectations of search:

- It is better to put more than one word in as one word gives too much stuff
- Adding an extra word gives fewer results
- The first word in the search box is more important than the other words
- If the words make a sensible phrase the search engine should return results for the phrase
- If the words do not make a sensible phrase, the search engine shouldn't look for the phrase.

Links:

  • Regular folks searching

Henrik Olsen - October 14, 2005

Permanent link Comments (3)

See also: Search (21)  Research (88) 


More >>

Browse GUUUI postings

Methods and the design process

Usability testing (29)  Wireframing and prototyping (29)  Cost-justification and ROI (18)  The design process (14)  Personas (13)  Requirement Analysis (12)  Card sorting (8)  Implementing user-centred design (7)  Expert reviews (6)  Web log analysis (7)  Eye-tracking (6)  Site and flow diagramming (3)  Use Cases (3) 

Design elements

Navigation (44)  Web page design (23)  Search (21)  Guidelines and Standards (10)  Links (10)  Text (14)  Forms (11)  Ads (6)  Site design (8)  Shopping Charts (5)  Error handling (5)  Sections (5)  Home pages (2)  Design patterns (2)  E-mails (1)  Personalization (1)  Sitemaps (1)  Print-freindly (1)  Help (2) 

General aspects

E-commerce (21)  Accessibility (10)  Information architecture (10)  Persuasive design (12)  Visual design (13)  Search engines (7)  Credibility, Trust and Privacy (5)  Web applications (2)  Intranets (1) 

Technology

Flash (6)  URLs (3)  Download time (2)  Javascript (3)  Web standards (2)  Browsers (2) 

Humor

Cartoons (8)  Funny tools and games (9)  Bad designs (7)  Fun with Jakob Nielsen (6)  Designs with humor (3)  Fun music and videos (3)  Fun posters (2)  Funny 404 pages (2)  Misc humor (2) 

Ressource types

Research (88)  Tips and guidelines (63)  Tools (49)  Books (32)  Cases and Examples (12)  Interviews (9)  Primers (8)  GUUUI articles (7)  Posters (5)  Online books (5)  Glossaries (2)  People and organisations (2) 

Information sources

Blogs (11)  Websites (9)  Discussion lists (4)  News (3)  Newsletters (3)  Online magazines (3)  Wikis (1) 

 

 
     
  To the front pageSign inTo the frontpageSearch in GUUUI postingsAbout GUUUI