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11

iPhone usability research

Bill Westerman from Create With Context has posted a slide deck covering their research on iPhone usability.

In their research, they found that "take-up of interactions - even when these were consistent across applications - was often quite slow. And even 'expert' users were not aware of the ins-and-outs of every interaction - for example, our 'expert' participants didn't know the two-finger single tap to zoom out on Google Maps."

In the slide deck, Bill Westerman walks through their findings and gives eight rules of thumb for designing better iPhone apps.

Links:

Henrik Olsen - November 12, 2008

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See also: Usability testing (68)  Tips and guidelines (95) 


 

12

How to make customers read your emails

Email is a powerful tool for connecting a website with its customers. But according to Jakob Nielsen, transactional email has appallingly low usability.

He gives a few tips on how to avoid your email being mistaken for spam and survive users' hectic approach to reading email:

- The From field should contain a recognizable and descriptive sender name such as "JetBlue Reservations" or "BestBuy Online Store"

- Provide a meaningful subject line that's relevant to the recipient such as "Order has shipped", rather than meaningless subjects such as "Important information"

- In the message, start with the facts that are important to users, rather marketing fluff or other seemingly irrelevant information

- To avoid inbox overload when sending order confirmations, settle for an order and a shipping confirmation

Links:

  • Transactional Email and Confirmation Messages Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - October 22, 2008

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See also: E-mails (3) 


 

13

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

Links:

Henrik Olsen - September 29, 2008

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See also: Sections (8) 


 

14

Spell out whether form fields are required or not

In a comparative test, Erin Walsh learned that spelling out that a form field is optional works significant better than indicating it with some visual means.

Links:

  • Erin Walsh's post on the IxDA discussion list Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - September 06, 2008 - via Luke Wroblewski's Web Form Design blog

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See also: Forms (30)  Tips and guidelines (95) 


 

15

95% of returned products work fine

According to a study by Accenture, 95% of consumer electronics products returned to retailers in the US are working properly. 68% are returned because they were thought to be defective or didn't meet customers' expectations.

A related study in the Netherlands found that this was the case for half of the products returned by Dutch people.

Apparently, Americans aren't as bright as the Dutch people ;)

Links:

Henrik Olsen - June 11, 2008 - via Putting People First

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See also: Bad designs (20) 


 

16

Study of login functions

In a study, UIE had the opportunity to learn how the login functions at different travel sites works.

They found that:

- There doesn't seem to be much consistency across travel site in how they locate their login and whether they use a login form or a login link

- When looking for the login, user seemed to first look for a pair of text fields. If they couldn't find it, they would start looking for a link.

- The location and type of login made no discernable difference.

- Users had trouble when the login feature wasn't visually distinct from the rest of the page

- If two text fields were located close to each other, some users would mistake them for the login form

- Once logged in, a pattern that worked well was to replace the login feature with the user's name and a logout link.

- Users had strong expectations about when the login features should appear. The most successful approach was to give users the option when it was beneficial to them.

Links:

  • The Wheres and Whens of Users' Expectations Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 09, 2008

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See also: Links (19)  Forms (30) 


 

17

User's read only 20% of what we write

Based on studies of user's browsing habits, Jakob Nielsen estimates that people, on average, read 20% of a web page.

Links:

  • How Little Do Users Read? Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 07, 2008

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See also: Text (24) 


 

18

Left-justify vertical lists and menus

According to Jakob Nielsen, eyetracking studies show that users tend to rapidly move their eyes down the left-hand side of lists (e.g. vertical menus). In order to design vertical list that are easy to scan, Jakob recommend that we should:

- Left-justify the list items so that the user's eyes can move in a straight line. Items that are right-aligned make scanning more difficult.

- Start each list item with the one or two most information-carrying words. People will only read a item if something catches their eyes in the left-most one or two words.

- Avoid using the same few words to start list items, because doing so makes them harder to scan.

Links:

  • Right-Justified Navigation Menus Impede Scannability Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 29, 2008

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See also: Navigation (63)  Tips and guidelines (95) 


 

19

iPhone usability rocks

The usability consulting firm inUse has tested the iPhone against three other high-end mobile devices to see whether it lives up to the hype.

According to their test, it does. Usability issues were observed, but nowhere near as many as with the other devices.

Links:

  • So Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 28, 2008 - via Peter Krans

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20

User's skills have improved slightly

According to a study by Jakob Nielsen and co., people are getting more confident with the web. At their favourite sites, they perform incredibly fast and competent. But when people visit a site for the first time, well-known usability problems still cause failures.

To help new users, sites must provide much more handholding and simplified content. If they don't, they will scare people away.

In the study, they also found that violations of long-lived usability guidelines still cause problems and irritation, such as:

- Opening new browser windows
- Links that don't change colour when the have been visited
- Splash screens and intros
- A site's logo being the only way to get to the homepage
- Non-standard scrollbars

Links:

  • User Skills Improving, But Only Slightly Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 04, 2008

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See also: Site design (14)  Guidelines and Standards (15) 


 

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