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Navigation (40)  Web page design (22)  Search (20)  Guidelines and Standards (10)  Links (10)  Text (12)  Forms (11)  Ads (6)  Site design (8)  Shopping Charts (5)  Error handling (5)  Sections (3)  Home pages (2)  Design patterns (2)  E-mails (1)  Personalization (1)  Sitemaps (1)  Print-freindly (1) 
 

1

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

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See also: Tips and guidelines (61)  Forms (11) 


 

2

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

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See also: Research (83)  Navigation (40) 


 

3

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

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See also: Search (20)  Research (83) 


 

4

Top Ten Web Design Mistakes 2005

It's time for Jakob Nielsen's Top Ten Web Design Mistakes. In 2005 Jakob has asked his readers about their opinion. Here's the result:

#1 Legibility problems due to small fonts and low contrast
#2 Non-standard links that violate common expectations
#3 Flash with no purpose beyond annoying people
#4 Content that is not written for the web
#5 Bad search
#6 Browser incompatibility
#7 Cumbersome forms
#8 No contact information or other company information
#9 Layouts with fixed width
#10 Photo enlargements that doesn't show the users the details they expect

Links:

  • The article Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 2005

Henrik Olsen - October 03, 2005

Permanent link Comments (3)

See also: Forms (11)  Text (12)  Links (10)  Search (20)  Flash (6)  Browsers (2) 


 

5

Striving for consistency is the wrong approach

According to Jared Spool the problem with striving for consistency is that we focus our thoughts purely on the design. Instead, we should ask ourselves whether the users are able to understand how to use the product.

"When you think about consistency, you're thinking about the product. When you're thinking about current knowledge, you're thinking about the user."

So why do we gravitate to consistency?

"Because it's easier to think about. You don't actually have to know anything about your users to talk about making things consistent."

Links:

  • Consistency in Design is the Wrong Approach

Henrik Olsen - September 19, 2005 - via elearningpost

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See also: Site design (8) 


 

6

Simplifying registration forms

Six tips from Caroline Jarrett on how to make registration forms as easy as possible:

- Explain why you're asking people to register
- Make sure you offer something that users want
- Offer a sample that of what people will get if they register
- Ask as few questions as possible
- Be careful about asking invasive questions
- Don't ask people to register multiple times

Links:

  • Registration Forms - what to do if you can't avoid Them

Henrik Olsen - September 11, 2005 - via Dey Alexander

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See also: Tips and guidelines (61)  Forms (11) 


 

7

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 (61)  Navigation (40) 


 

8

Free e-commerce search report

37signals have made their e-commerce search report from 2003 available for free. The report looks at the usability of search results from 25 of the internet's leading online retailers, and concludes with a comprehensive set of best practices.

For each retailer 37signal have tested:
- Are the search results accurate and relevant?
- How does the site handle misspellings?
- Can I sort the search results by useful criteria?
- Will the site understand related words and common synonyms?
- Can I search using mixed specifications such as gender, color, and price?
- Does the site provide helpful tips when it returns no results?

Links:

  • The report Evaluating 25 E-Commerce Search Engines

Henrik Olsen - August 15, 2005

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See also: Tips and guidelines (61)  E-commerce (21)  Search (20) 


 

9

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

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See also: Primers (8)  Navigation (40) 


 

10

Minimum requirements for international sites

Jakob Nielsen gives his advice on the minimum requirements for ensuring that international users can use your site:

- Accommodate both common and variable name spellings
- Offer a single field for persons names
- Accept an extended character set that goes beyond plain ASCII
- Refer to "postal code/ZIP code" instead of just ZIP code, which is a U.S.-only term.
- Allow for international phone numbers containing a varying number of digits and a country code
- Give measurements in both meters and inches
- Provide temperatures in both Fahrenheit and Celsius
- If you have a multistandard product, explicitly say so

Links:

  • The article International Sites: Minimum Requirements

Henrik Olsen - August 09, 2005

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See also: Tips and guidelines (61)  Site design (8) 


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