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11

When options are hidden users will pick the first ones

The May 2005 issue of HFI looks at study which has shown that when options in a form element is hidden (e.g. in a drop-down list), people tend to pick one of the first items. Not because people are satisficing, but because it requires less mental workload.

Dr. Eric Schaffer concludes that "If a respondent is picking a known response from a long list (e.g., their state or salutation title), dropdowns may be fine. However, when the respondent is comparing selection options...the behavioral tendency of designers to use dropdowns to save space can be problematic."

Links:

  • The article When what they see is what you get but satisficing isn't enough

Henrik Olsen - June 13, 2005

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See also: Forms (11) 


 

12

Fidelity and media is irrelevant in usability tests

An experiment by Group for User Interface Research has shown that low- and high-fidelity prototypes in both computer and paper media are equally good at uncovering usability issues.

The results support the idea of using low-fidelity prototyping techniques for design and testing. But development teams can choose whatever medium and level of fidelity they consider appropriate, since medium and fidelity has no effect on the quality of usability tests.

Links:

  • The article High or Low Fidelity, Paper or Computer?

Henrik Olsen - May 17, 2005

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See also: Wireframing and prototyping (29)  Usability testing (28) 


 

13

Medical killer design

Jakob Nielsen comments on a field study that identified twenty-two ways that automated hospital systems can result in the wrong medication being dispensed to patients. Most of the flaws are classic usability problems that have been understood for decades.

Links:

  • The article Medical Usability: How to Kill Patients Through Bad Design

Henrik Olsen - April 12, 2005

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14

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)  Books (32) 


 

15

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

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See also: Navigation (44)  Search (21)  E-commerce (21) 


 

16

Blog on eye-tracking research

Greg Edwards had dedicated a blog to eye-tracking analysis. He will publish interesting viewing data and rules-of-thumb from measuring what people read, look at, skip, and ignore on web pages.

Links:

  • The blog Eyetools Research Blog

Henrik Olsen - February 23, 2005

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See also: Eye-tracking (6)  Blogs (11) 


 

17

Segmenting online customers by behaviour

According to the authors of this article, the most effective segmentation scheme for online consumers is to group them by their online behaviour.

They have defined seven segments:

- Quickies (8%): Short visits to a few familiar sites.
- Just the Facts (15%): Search for specific information from known sites.
- Single Mission (7%): Information gathering or completion of a certain task at an unfamiliar site.
- Do It Again (14%): Visits to favourite sites.
- Loitering (16%): Longer leisure visits to familiar sites.
- Information, Please (17%): In-depth information gathering from a range of unfamiliar sites.
- Surfing (23%): Short visits to a lot of mostly unfamiliar sites.

The authors claim that by decoding the type of behaviour users are engaged in, online marketers will raise the odds of communicating with their target consumers at the time they are most likely to pay attention to and be influenced by offers.

Links:

Henrik Olsen - February 07, 2005

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See also: Persuasive design (12)  Requirement Analysis (12)  E-commerce (21) 


 

18

Usability of websites for teenagers

Jakob Nielsen and NN/G have studied teenagers using twenty-three web-sites. In the study they found that:

- Teenagers have a lower success rate (55%) than adults (66%)
- Their low performance is caused by insufficient reading skills, less sophisticated research strategies, and a dramatically lower patience level
- Surprisingly, tiny fonts caused the teens problems and provoked negative comments
- Teens like cool-looking graphics, but the sites have to be fast and the interaction straight forward
- They don't like to read a lot
- They're easily bored and want interactive features
- The word "kid" is a teen repellent

Links:

  • The article Usability of Websites for Teenagers

Henrik Olsen - February 01, 2005

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See also: Site design (8) 


 

19

Accessible doesn't equal usable for people with disabilities

The Communication Technologies Branch of the United States National Cancer Institute has been conduction usability testing with blind people to learn how they work with web-sites and what that means for designers and developers. They conclude that meeting the required accessibility standards doesn't necessarily mean that a web-site is usable for people with disabilities.

The authors describe how blind users work with their screen readers and present 31 guidelines based on their findings.

Links:

  • The article Guidelines for Accessible and Usable Web Sites

Henrik Olsen - January 17, 2005

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See also: Accessibility (10) 


 

20

Banner blindness is determined by navigation style

In a study, Magnus Pagedarm and Heike Schaumbrug found that when users browse websites "aimlessly", they are significantly better at recalling and recognising banner ads compared to users searching for specific information.

The authors suggest that navigation style exerts a significant influence on users' attention focusing. Directed search focuses users' attention on areas of the site that are expected to contain relevant information, while aimless browsing is guided by the appeal of the different features on a web page.

Links:

  • The article Why Are Users Banner-Blind?

Henrik Olsen - January 11, 2005

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See also: Navigation (44)  Ads (6) 


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