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About Us sections are getting better

According to Jakob Nielsen, "saying who you are and what you do is basic to good manners." Though there is still room for improvement, companies are learning their online manners.

Compared to a study five years ago:
- The usability of About Us information has increased from 70% to 79%
- The ease of finding contact information has increased from 62% to 91%
- The ease of figuring out what a company does has dropped from 90% to 81%
- User's satisfaction with About Us sections decreased from 5.2 to 4.6 on a 1-7 scale - probably because people's expectations have grown.
- People show higher interest in videos showing products, corporate events, or personality of the CEO or other key staff.

Jakob recommends providing About Us information at four levels of detail:
- A tagline on the home page
- A summary of what the company does on the About Us page
- A fact sheet following the summary
- Subsidiary pages with more depth


Henrik Olsen - September 29, 2008

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The evil of dropdown, flyout and pop-up menus

I this podcast, Jared Spool and Brian Christiansen discuss how hiding links in slick dropdown, flyout, or pop-up menus hurts the user experience.

The problem with these menus is that if people are looking for something specific, hiding their options isn't very helpful. Also, many of the menus require us to use awkward movements to make our selections.

So what to do instead? According to Jared, we should help users find what they are looking for by creating home pages and sections with visible options.


  • Usability Tools Podcast: Mouseovers in Navigation Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - December 25, 2007

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See also: Audio and video (48)  Home pages (9)  Navigation (63) 



Jared Spool on how to structure sites with lots of content

In this episode of the UIE Usability Tools podcast, Jared is interviewed about how to use department and store pages to subcategorize sites with lots of content.

Jared talks about:
- How department and store pages help narrow down the content choices for users
- How Department pages help users make confident choices between galleries
- What sites successfully take advantage of department pages
- What common mistakes designers make when implementing department and store pages


  • Usability Tools Podcast: Department and Store Pages Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 30, 2007

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See also: Audio and video (48)  Site design (14)  Navigation (63)  Interviews (30) 



Jared Spool on gallery pages

In this second episode of UIE Usability Tools Podcast, Jared Spool is interviewed about UIE's research on gallery pages, that is, pages with lists of links to content.

In the podcast, Jared talks about:
- How galleries help users make confident choices
- What behaviour users exhibit when gallery pages fail them
- How to order links so users can successfully find their content
- Why alphabetized links are often viewed as randomly ordered links
- How to utilize trigger words, the specific words that have meaning to users
-Why longer gallery pages may help users


  • Usability Tools Podcast: Gallery Pages Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 30, 2007

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See also: Audio and video (48)  Site design (14)  Navigation (63)  Interviews (30) 



Designing pages listing links to content

According to Jared Spool, gallery pages - pages listing links to content pages - are the hardest working pages on 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.


  • Galleries: The Hardest Working Page on Your Site Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - December 01, 2005

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See also: Research (130)  Persuasive design (23)  Web page design (41)  Navigation (63) 



How people experience About Us sections

Web sites should have a strong About Us section, since users often wonder who's behind it, and whether it's credible.

The Nielsen Norman Group conducted a usability study of fifteen organisations to find out how users find and interpret information about companies on websites.

Some major findings:
- The overall success rate of finding information was 70%
- Users had particular difficulty finding basic company facts, such as the organisation's top executive or officials (59%), contact information (62%), the organization's philosophy (59%), and company history (58%)
- Users had trouble locating the company information when the link had a nonstandard name or was placed near graphical elements that looked like advertisements
- Users were fairly successful at answering what the companies does (90%)
- Government agencies was often the worst offenders


  • The article Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - October 27, 2003

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Investor Relations Website Design

NN/g has tested 42 users performing investment-oriented task on 20 company websites. Some of the results showed that:

- 70% of the users completed the tasks
- 35% of the users couldn't get a copy of the company's latest quarterly report
- 77% couldn't find the high/low share prices for an earlier quarter

Jakob Nielsen concludes that:

- Individual investors are intimidated by overly complex IR sections and need simple summaries of financial data.
- Professional investors are using other sources of financial information and just want management's visions about the company's future
- Both individual and professional investors want company background information and overview of recent news

If you can afford it, NN/g offer a 121 pages report with 65 design guidelines for improving IR usability.


  • The article Investor Relations Website Design Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 18, 2003 - via Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox

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See also: Tips and guidelines (95)  Research (130) 



FAQ design tips

"Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are a great way to provide quick, easy answers to users' most common questions. However, ensuring that they fulfill their purpose effectively requires careful planning and design." Jodi Bollaert has collected 16 FAQ design tips.


  • The article Mind your FAQs (link goes to the WayBackMachine archive) Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 16, 2002

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See also: Tips and guidelines (95) 


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