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Design for impulse purchases

An experiment with 30 people conducted by UIE showed that the design of a site, rather than product price, is the primary reason why customers make impulse purchases on e-commerce sites. They also found that sites, which urge users toward the category links, are going to make more impulse sales than sites that encourage users to use the search engine. Some hard facts from the study:
- 39% of all the money spent on the e-commerce sites studied was impulse purchases
- Only 8% of the impulse purchases were related to price
- 87% of the dollars spent on impulse purchases resulted from users navigating the site by category links.
- The remaining 13% was spent after navigation via the sites' search engines

The larger amount of impulse buys when the users browsed categories links was caused by the fact, that the users was exposed to more of the site's products - both within and across product categories.


  • The article What Causes Customers to Buy on Impulse? Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - October 12, 2002

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See also: Persuasive design (21) 



The truth about download time

When UIE did a study on how visitors perceived download time on 10 different sites over a 56 kbps modem, they found that there was no correlation between the actual download time and the perceived speed reported by the users.

Instead they found a strong correlation between perceived download time and whether users successfully completed their task, suggesting that if people can't find what they want on a site, they will regard it as a waste of time.

This suggests that download time might not be as important, as many usability experts claim.


  • The article The Truth About Download Time Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - October 10, 2002

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See also: Download time (5) 



The nature of online privacy concerns

Since people have a tendency to produce their own version of companies' motivation for collection data online, it's important to have up-front and straightforward explanations about the things that users are concerned about. A survey by AT&T; has studied the nature of online privacy concerns.

Some interesting findings:
- 11% said that they feel comfortable providing their phone number, while 76% usually feel comfortable providing their email
- 54% were usually comfortable providing their full name
- The top reason for not filling out online forms was that information on how data is going to be used is not provided (96%) - less important was it whether a web site has a private policy (49%) or a privacy seal of approval (39%)
- A number of respondents were skeptic about whether sites actually follow their privacy policies, suggesting that they were unaware that seals can help provide assurance that policies are followed
- 52% were concerned about web cookies


  • The article Beyond Concern: Understanding Net Users' Attitudes About Online Privacy Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - September 16, 2002

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See also: Credibility, Trust and Privacy (6) 



How to layout news pages

A study that addressed the question of how a news page should be presented showed that users prefer news listings with short abstracts.

In the study, users where asked to locate specific information within news articles with three different layouts:
1. A layout with full news text on one page
2. A layout with link titles and abstracts
3. A layout with link titles only

While the study showed no statistical difference in search time across the three presentation types, the layout with link titles and abstracts was preferred by the users. It was perceived most positively in terms of ease of finding information, being visually pleasing, promoting comprehension, and looking professional. The layout with full text was the least preferred.


  • The article Reading Online News: A Comparison of Three Presentation Formats Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - September 15, 2002

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See also: Web page design (40) 



Seven tricks that Web users don't know

Based on her experience from usability studies, Carolyn Snyder describes seven Web site features, which typical non-technical users aren't familiar with. The features include:

1. Logos that link to the home page
2. The distinction between security and privacy
3. Rollover menus
4. Navigating drop-down lists
5. Navigation by hacking URLs
6. Knowledge of browser controls such as "Stop" and "Refresh"
7. New browser windows

Snyder gives suggestions on how to improve site usability by removing the need to know these tricks.


  • The article Seven tricks that Web users don't know Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - September 11, 2002

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Scrolling may be the best approach for users

Users say they don't like to scroll. As a result, many designers try to keep their web pages short. But a study conducted by UIE showed that users are perfectly willing to scroll. However, they'll only do it if the page gives them strong clues that scrolling will help them find what they're looking for.

Short pages don't help users: "One criticism of long web pages is that they hide some information, forcing users to scroll. Short pages may avoid this potential problem by showing more (or all) of an individual page, but the information is still hidden - on other pages."


  • The article As the Page Scrolls Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 05, 2002

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See also: Web page design (40)  Navigation (63) 



Seductive Design for Web Sites

Web interaction design is not only a means of making sites more useable. It can also be used for facilitating cross- and up-selling. Amazon is one of the best examples with their recommendations and product combos at special prices.

UIE experienced from web-site usability testing that users won't be lured away until they've accomplished some or their entire goal:

"The seducible moment can happen only when users have completed at least part of their original quest. It's difficult to lure users away until they've reached this (self-defined) point; before that, they will simply ignore distractions."

Up- and cross-selling techniques aren't just for e-commerce sites. For instance, UIE has started cross-selling on their own web site. Following each article is a section titled "For more usability information," which has links to courses and other material.


  • The article Seductive Design for Web Sites Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - July 18, 2002

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See also: Tips and guidelines (95)  Persuasive design (21) 



E-commerce sites are improving, but non-US sites are lagging behind

A follow-up on an analysis of e-commerce sites conducted by the NN/g has shown that over the last 1.5 year, the average compliance with the NN/g Guidelines for E-commerce Sites has increased by 4%.

NN/g also found that non-US e-commerce sites are lagging behind. A sampling of six non-US e-commerce sites followed only 40% of the guidelines


  • The article Improving Usability Guideline Compliance Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 24, 2002

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See also: E-commerce (27) 



Left navigation vs. right navigation

While redesigning Audi's main websites, Razorfish did an extensive test of left navigation vs. right navigation. The results showed that:
- There was no significant difference in completion times between the two navigation types for any task.
- People tended to focus more on the content with a right navigation than with a left navigation.
- Users were apathetic towards the navigation position.

In the light of the study James Kalbach from Razorfish concludes that "Don Norman's concept of affordance - the perceived properties of a thing that determine how it is to be used - seems to be a better predictor of usability than conforming to standards or matching patterns to user expectations. With the Audi site, it is clear what is navigation and what is not. Users can build a pattern of interaction with the site immediately."


  • The article Challenging the Status Quo: Audi Redesigned Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 17, 2002

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See also: Navigation (63) 



Where should you put common web elements?

Michael Bernard has conducted two studies, which sought to better understand users' expectations concerning the location of common objects on web sites and e-commerce sites.

Some of the findings show that people expect:
- Links back to the front page to be located top-left of a page
- Internal links to be placed along the left side and external links along the right
- Shopping cart, account and help to be located along the top-right side
- Login to be placed top-left


  • The article Developing Schemas for the Location of Common Web Objects Open link in new window
  • The article Examining User Expectations for the Location of Common E-Commerce Web Objects Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 10, 2002

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See also: Search (27)  Navigation (63)  Web page design (40)  Links (19)  Shopping Carts (9) 


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