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1

Online video interview with Jakob Nielsen

DevSource has published a nice 8-minute online video interview featuring Dr. Jakob Nielsen.

Nielsen addresses a wide range of topics, such as proper attitude for programmers, the importance of prototyping in design, and the reasons why PDF, Flash, and local search engines can hurt more than they help.

Links:

  • Online video interview with Jakob Nielsen

Henrik Olsen - March 17, 2006 - via WebWord

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See also: Interviews (10)  Search (24)  Prototyping and wireframing (32)  Usability testing (30) 


 

2

Poor design causes 50% of product returns

A study has shown that half of all malfunctioning products returned by customers are in full working order. They are returned because customers can't figure out how to operate them.

Most of the flaws found in the study could be tracked back to the first phase of the development process: product definition.

The study was done Elke den Ouden from the Technical University of Eindhoven.

Links:

  • Complexity causes 50% of product returns

Henrik Olsen - March 08, 2006 - via 37signals

Permanent link Comments (1)

See also: Research (93) 


 

3

How to use PowerPoint for prototyping

Jensen Harris from Microsoft has posted a small practical tutorial on how to use PowerPoint for prototyping. Paste screenshots of the different interaction states into PowerPoint, use transparent shapes as link areas and put a static frame into the master background, so that you only need to put the interface elements which changes on each slide.

In Harris' opinion, the technique has several advantages compared to paper prototypes. Prototypes build in PowerPoint feel somewhat interactive, they can be modified more easily, and computer enabled prototypes feel more natural to usability test participants.

Of course, this method is rather primitive compared to prototyping with Visio.

Links:

  • Prototyping With PowerPoint

Henrik Olsen - February 27, 2006

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See also: Tools (51)  Prototyping and wireframing (32) 


 

4

Avoid links that scroll to sections of pages

According to Jakob Nielsen, we should avoid links that scroll to sections of a page, since users expect that links will take them to a new page.

Studies have shown that within-page links typically waste far more time than they save because users click back and forth multiple times to review the same material.

If you must use within-page links, tell the user that clicking the link will scroll to the page to the relevant section.

Only for very long pages, such as long alphabetized lists and FAQs, will the time saved be worth the confusion that within-page links can cause. Also, linking to a specific section on a different page is not as bad as using within-page links on a single page, since the users are taken to a new page.

Ideally, create separate pages for everything that serves as a link destination.

Links:

  • Avoid Within-Page Links

Henrik Olsen - February 25, 2006

Permanent link Comments (2)

See also: Navigation (46)  Links (12)  Tips and guidelines (65) 


 

5

The surfers are back

A report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows that surfing for fun is now one of the most popular activities on the web.

"More Americans are turning to the internet as a place to hang out. Nearly a third of internet users go online on a typical day for no particular reason, just for fun or to pass the time."

The number of people reporting that they go online on a typical day to surf for fun is up from 25 million people in November 2004 to 40 million in December 2005.

The act of surfing for fun stands only behind using e-mail (52%), using search engines (38%), and is almost as popular as reading news (31%).

Links:

  • The press release Web Surfing for Fun Becomes a Staple of Internet Life

Henrik Olsen - February 16, 2006 - via Putting people first

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See also: Research (93) 


 

6

Alphabetized lists are random lists

"Unless you can be absolutely sure that users will know the exact terms in your list, alphabetical order is just random order."

According to Jared Spool, alphabetized lists work for people's name, states, cities, car models, and teams. But they fall apart for things where users don't know the exact wording. Users must resort to the same behavior they need when links are randomly ordered. They must scan every link to make sure they can see what is relevant and what isn't.

Instead, we should use a divide-and-conquer approach by categorizing the items. Once broken up into small groups, it doesn't matter what the order of the links are.

Links:

  • Alphabetized Links are Random Links

Henrik Olsen - February 12, 2006

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See also: Navigation (46)  Links (12)  Information architecture (12)  Tips and guidelines (65) 


 

7

A study of older web users

Webcredible have conducted a usability test comparing eight older and eight younger users complete the same tasks on the web.

Some interesting results:
- The older users were more likely to blame themselves for any difficulties they encountered
- A majority of the older users missed critical information that required scrolling
- The older users were less likely to understand technical language
- The older users were more likely to click on elements which weren't links
- Many of the older users expressed a strong aversion to downloading from the internet
- The older users where more likely to use the available search functionality
- The older participants required over double the average time to complete a task
- The older users displayed a tendency to read all of the text appearing on a page before being willing to decide on their next course of action
- Most of the older participants reported anything less than 12-point type as being too small to read comfortably.

Henrik Olsen - February 05, 2006 - via UsabilityNews

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See also: Research (93) 


 

8

Easy site diagramming

Stephen Turbek shows how to save time on site diagramming using either Excel and Visio or Word and Inspiration.

"Use these lazy techniques and spend your time on better and more interesting problems than lining up little boxes!"

Links:

  • The Lazy IA's Guide to Making Sitemaps

Henrik Olsen - February 01, 2006

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See also: Site and flow diagramming (4)  Information architecture (12)  Tools (51) 


 

9

How to build a design pattern library

Design patterns have become a popular method for teams to tame the consistent-design-management tiger. UIE have looked at how teams build and maintain design pattern libraries and what they punt into their design pattern description. The result is great inspiration for building your own design patterns.

Links:

  • The Elements of a Design Pattern

Henrik Olsen - January 24, 2006

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See also: Design patterns (4)  Research (93) 


 

10

Web users judge sites in the blink of an eye

A study has shown that users judge sites within the first twentieth of a second and that their decision has a lasting impact.

The lasting effect of first impressions is known to psychologists as the "halo effect". If you can snare people with an attractive design, they are more likely to rate the site more favourably. According to the researcher Gitte Lindgaard of Carleton University in Ottawa, this is because of "cognitive bias". People enjoy being right, so continuing to use a website that gave a good first impression helps to prove to them that they made a good initial decision.

The study is published in the journal Behaviour and Information Technology vol. 25.

Links:

  • The article Web users judge sites in the blink of an eye

Henrik Olsen - January 18, 2006

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See also: Research (93)  Credibility, Trust and Privacy (6)  Visual design (14) 


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