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Eyetracking project reveals how people perceive new sites

A very interesting eyetracking research project looked through the eyes of 46 people to learn how they see online news. It's impossible to summarize the many findings, but here are some highlights:

- Headlines had less than a second of a site visitor's attention
- Smaller type encourages focused viewing behavior
- Larger type promotes scanning
- Shorter paragraphs get more attention than longer ones
- People often looked only at the first couple of words in blurbs
- People typically looked below the first screen
- Navigation placed at the top of a homepage performed best


  • More highlights by Open link in new window
  • The Eyetrack III web site Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - September 09, 2004 - via WebReference Update

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See also: Research (129)  Web page design (40)  Eye-tracking (14) 



User Requirement Analysis on steroids

Dilbert to the User Requirement Analyst: Your user requirements include four hundreds features. Do you realize that no human would be able to use a product with that level of complexity?

User Requirement Analyst: Good point. I'd better add "easy to use" to the list.


Henrik Olsen - August 31, 2004 - via Usability First

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See also: User research (23)  Cartoons (14) 



Web Traffic Analytics and User Experience

Fran Diamond has written a nice primer on web traffic analytics. The method allows you to get a picture of user behaviour that doesn't come from an artificial test setting, but from the true user environment. It can help you find areas that need to be improved, and by looking at how a redesign affects user behaviour, it can help you learn whether redesigns really work.


  • The article Web Traffic Analytics and User Experience Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 30, 2004

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Usability Test Data Logger

The Usability Test Data Logger is an Excel spreadsheet developed by Todd Zazelenchuk, which can be used to collect, analyse, and present results of usability tests. It allows you to measure task completion rates, analyse questionnaire data, and summarise participant comments. It automatically generates charts and includes a timer to measure task completion times.


  • The Usability Test Data Logger Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 17, 2004 - via Column Two

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See also: Usability testing (68)  Tools (106) 



Card Sorting: How Many Users to Test

With the card sorting method we can enhance usability by creating an information architecture that reflects how users organise content. But how many users should we include in a card sorting exercise?

According to Jakob Nielsen, 15 participants will be enough to reach a comfortable result in most projects. Testing 30 people is better but not worth the money. Going beyond 30 users will hardly improve the results. In projects with limited resources for user research, the remaining users are better spent on qualitative usability tests of different design iterations.

His recommendation is based on results from a study measuring the trade-off curve for testing various numbers of users in card sorting.


  • The article Card Sorting: How Many Users to Test Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - July 25, 2004

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See also: Card sorting (13)  Tips and guidelines (95) 



Conduct usability tests regularly and constantly

According to Janice Fracer, usability testing is most effective when it's a low-stress routine activity, rather than a special event that requires a lot of attention. Successful organizations conduct usability tests on a regular, fixed schedule, integrate results quickly into the product, and spend less money.

To develop a effective culture of usability you should:
- Test regularly and constantly (once a month or more)
- Train a couple of staff members to conduct the tests
- Test with five people at a time
- Perform the tests in-house
- Keep reports crisp and to the point
- Make changes immediately
- Leave recruiting to others


  • The article The Culture of Usability Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - July 15, 2004

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



Calculating confidence intervals of usability test

Imagine a usability test where five out of five participants completed all tasks successfully. What are the chances that 50 or 1000 will have a 100% completion rate? By calculation confidence intervals, you will be able to tell that the chances lies somewhere between 95% and as low as 48%.

In his article, Jeff Sauro shows us how calculate confidence intervals of usability tests.


  • The article Restoring Confidence in Usability Results Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - July 08, 2004

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



Five users in a test is not enough

The discussion about how many users is enough for a usability test has been going on for years. Research by Jakob Nielsen and Tom Landauer showing that tests with five users will reveal an average of 85% usability problems has been seen as a proof that five is enough.

According to Laura Faulker, Nielsen and Laudauer's prediction is right. Five users will reveal 85% usability problems - on average. In a study, she found that problems found with five users range from nearly 100% down to only 55%. Thus, relying on a single set of five users, we run the risk that nearly half the problems could be missed.

Dr. Eric Schaffer concludes that "


Henrik Olsen - July 01, 2004

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See also: Usability testing (68) 



Prototyping ends the war between clients and developers

In his online book, Client vs. Developers Wars, Eric Holter explains how time commonly wasted in miscommunication during web projects can be poured into actually improving sites by incorporating prototyping into the design process. He tells the woeful tale of conflicts and negative experience, which everybody involved in web development know all too well, and shows how the power of interaction design can change the dynamics of the web design process.

The book is free for download. A must read for interaction designers.


  • The online book Client vs. Developer Wars Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 19, 2004

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See also: Online books (5)  Books (47)  Prototyping and wireframing (119) 



Institutionalization of Usability: A Step-by-Step Guide

This book by Eric Schaffer (Founder & CEO of Human Factors International) answers the question: "How do I make usability routine in my business?" ... and provides the case for corporate commitment.

Usability must be institutionalized as a sustained, routine, and necessary part of the business process.

Executives, managers, and practitioners need a mature usability engineering capability with infrastructure, standards, training, and proper staffing.


Pieter-Jan Pruuost - June 10, 2004

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See also: Books (47)  Implementing user-centred design (9) 


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