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1

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) 


 

2

11 ways to improve landing pages

When visitors click an online promotional creative they arrive at a landing page. The purpose of the landing page is to make the visitor do something (e.g. register for a newsletter or buy a product). Michael Nguyen gives 11 tips on how to make visitors take that desired action, where these five seem to be the most important:

- Eliminate unneeded elements that can distract visitors
- Make the landing page match the creative
- Remove navigation that isn't important to the conversion process
- Avoid the urge to promote or link to other areas of your site
- Place important elements above the "fold"

Links:

  • The article 11 Ways to Improve Landing Pages

Henrik Olsen - July 12, 2005

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See also: Persuasive design (10)  E-commerce (21)  Web page design (22)  Tips and guidelines (61) 


 

3

Principles of visual design

Joshua David McClurg-Genevese takes a look at the principles of balance, rhythm, proportion, dominance and unity that guide the arrangement of objects within a visual design.

Links:

  • The Principles of Design

Henrik Olsen - June 15, 2005

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See also: Visual design (11) 


 

4

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

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See also: Search engines (7)  Information architecture (10)  Navigation (40) 


 

5

The core principles of visual communication

According to Luke Wroblewski, visual communication is a key component of interface design and unfortunately often under-represented in interaction design methodologies.

A well thought-out visual organization "can greatly enhance usability by grouping information into meaningful page elements and sequences. Such a system relies on an understanding of how people use visual relationships to distinguish objects and what those relationships reveal to viewers..."

In a presentation, Luke Wroblewski introduces the core principles of visual communication and how they can be put to use in the design of web applications.

Links:

  • Visual Communication & Web Application Design

Henrik Olsen - May 01, 2005 - via InfoDesign

Permanent link Comments (1)

See also: Visual design (11) 


 

6

30% of web users have low literacy

According to Jakob Nielsen 30% of web users have low literacy and the number will probably grow to 40% in the next five years.

Unlike higher-literacy users, lower-literacy users don't scan text. They can't understand a text by glancing at it and must carefully read word for word. Scrolling breaks their visual concentration and they start skipping text as soon as it becomes too dense.

Some recommendations:
- Use text aimed at a 6th grade reading level on important landing pages
- On other pages use an 8th grade reading level
- Place main points at the top of the pages
- Make search tolerant of misspellings
- Simplify navigation
- Streamline the page design
- Avoid text that moves or changes

A study showed that revising the text of a web site for lower-literacy users made it perform significant better for both lower- and higher-literacy users.

Links:

  • The article Lower-Literacy Users

Henrik Olsen - March 17, 2005

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See also: Accessibility (10)  Text (12)  Tips and guidelines (61) 


 

7

Eye-tracking study of e-commerce sites

Eyetools Inc and MarketingSherpa have published the report "The Landing Page Handbook". The report describes the results of an eye-tracking study of typical e-commerce sites and has design guidelines for improving web page layout.

Some highlights from the report:
- The upper-left corner is always seen
- Most web pages are scanned, not read
- Any text that is underlined or blue get high readership and many people will read only the emphasized text before deciding to read on
- Material underneath images is viewed quite often
- People experience such a strong pull to look at images that they can trump left-to-right reading
- Navigational links or bottoms usually distract visitors from the main purpose of the page

Links:

  • The article Are Your Visitors Seeing What You Think?
  • The book The Landing Page Handbook

Henrik Olsen - March 03, 2005 - via UI Designer

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See also: Eye-tracking (6)  E-commerce (21)  Research (83)  Books (31) 


 

8

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: Navigation (40)  Search (20)  E-commerce (21)  Research (83) 


 

9

Users research weeks before buying online

In a study performed by DoubleClick in conjunction with comScore Networks they found that:
- Roughly half of online shoppers conduct research on a search engine before making an online purchase
- Most users complete product-related searches weeks ahead of their actual purchases
- Users conduct more general searches (77%) than brand-only searches (22%)
- Buying decisions are generally spread out over a number of searches that vary by product category, where buyers on sports and fitness sites made an average of 2.5 searches and travel buyers conducted 6 searches

Links:

  • The article Consumers Search Before Buying Online

Henrik Olsen - February 17, 2005

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See also: Search engines (7)  E-commerce (21) 


 

10

Online edition of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web

O'Reilly has made the 1st edition of the book Architecture for the World Wide Web by Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville freely available online.

Links:

Henrik Olsen - February 13, 2005 - via Column Two

Permanent link Comments (2)

See also: Online books (4)  Books (31)  Information architecture (10) 


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