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11

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

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Navigation (46) 


 

12

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

Permanent link Comments (3)

See also: Search (24) 


 

13

Eye-tracking as a supplement to traditional usability tests

SURL have studied how eye-tracking can be used to supplement traditional usability tests. They found that eye-tracking data can be used to better understand how users search the interface for a target and what areas of a page are eye-catching, informative, frequently ignored and distracting.

The study is based on a test of three toy e-commerce sites, which is described in detail in the article.

Links:

  • The article Hotspots and Hyperlinks: Using Eye-tracking to Supplement Usability Testing

Henrik Olsen - August 02, 2005

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See also: Usability testing (30)  Eye-tracking (7)  Web page design (23) 


 

14

Line length and reading performance

A study by SURL examines the effects of line length on reading performance. Twenty colleage-ages students read news articles displayed in 35, 55, 75, or 95 characters per line (cpl) from a computer monitor. Reading rates were found to be fastest at 95 cpl.

Users indicated a strong preference for either short or long line lengths. Some participants reported that they felt like they were reading faster at 35 cpl, although this condition resulted in the slowest reading speed.

Links:

  • The article The Effects of Line Length on Reading Online News

Henrik Olsen - July 22, 2005

Permanent link Comments (2)

See also: Text (13) 


 

15

People use the web to find how-to information

According to Pew Internet and American Life Project 55% of adult American internet users have looked for do-it-yourself information online. 1 in 20 search for help on a typical day.

Looking for how-to information resides in the middle of other common Internet activities in terms of popularity, where:
- 78% research products and services
- 72% read news
- 55% look up how-to information
- 24% bid in online auctions
- 17% visit chat rooms

Links:

  • The report Do-it-yourself Information Online

Henrik Olsen - June 13, 2005

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16

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) 


 

17

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: Prototyping and wireframing (32)  Usability testing (30) 


 

18

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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19

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

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Eye-tracking (7)  E-commerce (21)  Books (32) 


 

20

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 (46)  Search (24)  E-commerce (21) 


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