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21

Open new windows for PDF and other non-web documents

If you must use PDF or other PC-native documents on websites, open them in new windows. Jakob Nielsen gives the following guidelines:

- Open non-web documents in a new browser window.
- Warn users in advance that a new window will appear.
- Remove the browser chrome (such as the back button) from the new window.

According to Jakob Nielsen, users feel like they're interacting with a PC application when using PC-native file formats. When people are finished, they click the window's close button instead of the back button, and are surprised that the web page is gone. Because they are no longer browsing a website, they shouldn't be given a browser interface.

Links:

  • The article Open New Windows for PDF and other Non-Web Documents

Henrik Olsen - August 29, 2005

Permanent link Comments (1)

See also: Tips and guidelines (65)  Navigation (46) 


 

22

Free e-commerce search report

37signals have made their e-commerce search report from 2003 available for free. The report looks at the usability of search results from 25 of the internet's leading online retailers, and concludes with a comprehensive set of best practices.

For each retailer 37signal have tested:
- Are the search results accurate and relevant?
- How does the site handle misspellings?
- Can I sort the search results by useful criteria?
- Will the site understand related words and common synonyms?
- Can I search using mixed specifications such as gender, color, and price?
- Does the site provide helpful tips when it returns no results?

Links:

  • The report Evaluating 25 E-Commerce Search Engines

Henrik Olsen - August 15, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Tips and guidelines (65)  E-commerce (21)  Search (24) 


 

23

Introduction to information scent

This article by Iain Barker introduces the concept of information scent and explains how creating strong information scents enables users to confidently step through a site and find the information they require.

"The principles around how to create stronger information scents are quite simple, providing users with more context makes it easier for them to select the best option."

Links:

  • The article Information scent: helping people find the content they want

Henrik Olsen - August 15, 2005 - via Column Two

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See also: Primers (9)  Navigation (46) 


 

24

Minimum requirements for international sites

Jakob Nielsen gives his advice on the minimum requirements for ensuring that international users can use your site:

- Accommodate both common and variable name spellings
- Offer a single field for persons names
- Accept an extended character set that goes beyond plain ASCII
- Refer to "postal code/ZIP code" instead of just ZIP code, which is a U.S.-only term.
- Allow for international phone numbers containing a varying number of digits and a country code
- Give measurements in both meters and inches
- Provide temperatures in both Fahrenheit and Celsius
- If you have a multistandard product, explicitly say so

Links:

  • The article International Sites: Minimum Requirements

Henrik Olsen - August 09, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Tips and guidelines (65)  Site design (8) 


 

25

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

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Usability testing (30)  Eye-tracking (7)  Web page design (23)  Research (93) 


 

26

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)  Research (93) 


 

27

11 ways to improve landing pages

When visitors click an online promotional creative they arrive at a landing page. The purpose of the landing page is to make the visitor do something (e.g. register for a newsletter or buy a product). Michael Nguyen gives 11 tips on how to make visitors take that desired action, where these five seem to be the most important:

- Eliminate unneeded elements that can distract visitors
- Make the landing page match the creative
- Remove navigation that isn't important to the conversion process
- Avoid the urge to promote or link to other areas of your site
- Place important elements above the "fold"

Links:

  • The article 11 Ways to Improve Landing Pages

Henrik Olsen - July 12, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Persuasive design (13)  E-commerce (21)  Sections (5)  Web page design (23)  Tips and guidelines (65) 


 

28

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

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Forms (11)  Research (93) 


 

29

Error message guidelines

According to Jakob Nielsen good error messages should:
- Clearly indicate that something has gone wrong
- Be in a human-readable language
- Be polite and not blame the users
- Describe the problem
- Give constructive advice on how to fix the problem
- Be visible and highly noticeable, both in terms of the message and how it indicates where things went wrong
- Preserve as much of the user's work as possible so that they don't have to do everything over again
- If possible, guess the correct action and let users pick it form a list of fixes
- Educate users by providing links to pages with an explanation of the problem

Links:

  • The article Error Message Guidelines

Henrik Olsen - June 13, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Error handling (5)  Tips and guidelines (65) 


 

30

Collection of interface design patterns

Jenifer Tidwell has created a collection of design patterns for websites, desktop application, "and everything in between."

"They're common problems, and there's no point in reinventing the wheel every time you need, say, a sortable table -- plenty of folks have already done it, and learned how to do it well. Some of that knowledge is written up here, in an easily-digestible format."

"If you're running short on ideas, or hung up on a difficult design quandary, read over these and see if any of them are applicable."

Links:

  • UI Patterns and Techniques

Henrik Olsen - May 27, 2005 - via Column Two

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Tools (51)  Design patterns (4) 


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