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21

Posting added before you last visit at GUUUI Tips and Guidelines
14 Principles of Polite Apps
Human react to computers in the same way they react to other humans. If we want users to like our interactive designs, we should create them to behave like likeable persons. They should be polite and humble servants to us.

Alan Cooper has listed 14 principles to create accommodating designs. Some of his requirements for the polite system are:
- Be interested in me, recognize me, and know who I am and what I like
- Be deferential to me
- Keep me informed about whatís going on but donít bother me with your personal problems
- Be self-confident - don't not pass responsibility off onto me
- Do not force choices on to me
- Donít be stubborn, be flexible
- Give instant gratification
- Be trustworthy and dependable

Cooper claims that polite designs are no harder to build than impolite ones. I donít agree with that. It takes effort to be polite and accommodating Ė just like in real life.

Links:
The article 14 Principles of Polite Apps

Henrik Olsen | November 20, 2002

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22

Posting added before you last visit at GUUUI Tips and Guidelines
The Death of Meta Keywords
Making a site show up on search engines often becomes a big issue in web development projects. One method which doesnít work is meta keywords. According to Danny Sullivan from Clickz, the only major crawler-based search engine supporting meta keywords is Inktomi Ė and they are not giving it too much weight. The meta keywords has been shown to be a spam magnet and search engines, such as Excite, Lycos and AltaVista have dropped their support while Google and FAST never added it at all.

So, the only reason left for adding meta keywords is to avoid being spammed by fishy search engine optimizer companies.

Links:
The article Death of a Meta Tag

Henrik Olsen | November 18, 2002

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23

Posting added before you last visit at GUUUI Tips and Guidelines
Spanking Jakob Nielsen
"The purpose of this article is to critically review Jakob Nielsen's article, Intranet Usability: The Trillion-Dollar Question. In summary, Jakob Nielsen makes some fantastic claims about intranet usability that must be weighed against other business needs and constraints. For example, there might be better ways to spend money than on usability, not all usability improvements are created equal, and it can be hard to apply the changes dictated by a usability study. The criticisms can be applied to many other usability articles"

A very good analysis of Nielsen's article, "Intranet Usability: The Trillion-Dollar Question"

Links:
Spanking Jakob Nielsen
Intranet Usability: The Trillion-Dollar Question

Ron Zeno | November 11, 2002

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24

Posting added before you last visit at GUUUI Tips and Guidelines
The Search For Seducible Moments
UIE takes a look at how to entice users to explore content they aren't necessarily seeking. They compare how Sears and Dell have tried to solve this common problem through the design of their sites.

"Itís rare where we get a situation like we have with these two sites. They are basically the same, offering high-priced products with available financing. In this analysis, we can see how two sites handle seducible moments. Sears struggles to convince users to apply for financing, whereas Dell has an easier time. The difference between the sites is not in the content, but in the design."

Links:
The article The Search For Seducible Moments

Henrik Olsen | November 10, 2002

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25

Posting added before you last visit at GUUUI Tips and Guidelines
How to create the best user experiences with Macromedia Flash
Flash is a very powerful tool, but is of no added value if the designer does not master the tool or the medium.
Macromedia has the Usability Guidelines you've been looking for. Designed for the 21st Century Flash Designer q;)

Links:
Macromedia's Flash Usability Guidelines, Tips & Tricks, Examples, Cases, and Whitepapers

Pieter-Jan Pruuost | October 17, 2002

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26

Posting added before you last visit at GUUUI Tips and Guidelines
NN/g report on e-commerce search
NN/g has observed 64 US and Danish users attempting 344 search tasks on 20 US e-commerce sites. The users had a success rate of only 64% in finding what they wanted. The report offers 29 design guidelines. Some highlights:

- Provide a clearly visible search box on every page
- Provide a simple search, with one search box and one search button
- Accept synonyms, spelling errors and variant forms of keywords typically used by customers
- Accommodate multiple-word input
- Always include search criteria, scope and items found in search results page
- Beware of long search result lists, as only few users look past page 2 of search results
- Take the users directly to the item when a search returns only one matching result
- On the "No results" page, make it clear why the search failed, allow the user to begin a new search, and provide alternative ways of locating products
- Support search for non-product terms

Links:
The 51 pages report Search ($49)

Henrik Olsen | October 09, 2002

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27

Posting added before you last visit at GUUUI Tips and Guidelines
Should we abandon usability guidelines?
In the article "Evolution Trumps Usability Guidelines", Jared M. Spool calls web usability guidelines into question.

In his opinion we can't assume that following guidelines will result in more usable sites if they haven't been tested properly in various contexts. Following such guidelines can even harm the usability of a site:

"This means that following untested guidelines is like drinking water from an unidentified source. It might quench your thirst, but it could also make you very ill."

The problem with guidelines is an old one in interface design and has been discussed intensively in the literature. Some of the most important conclusions here is, that usability guidelines has proven very useful, but they should be used with caution:

- Never use a guideline without considering its relevance in the context it will be applied to
- Never base your design choices solely on guidelines - use other methods to verify its usefulness
- Study how users interact with you designs

Links:
The article Evolution Trumps Usability Guidelines
Lyle Kantrovichís comment to the article

Henrik Olsen | October 01, 2002

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28

Posting added before you last visit at GUUUI Tips and Guidelines
Date-entry guidelines
Based on usability tests Travel UCD has reviewed the design for entering dates into hotel booking systems. They suggest 25 date-entry guidelines, of which many would also apply to similar types of sites.

Some highlights:
- Use dropdowns to eliminate date formatting errors
- When selecting dates from a dropdown, combine month and year in one dropdown to reduce the number of items the user has to change
- Reduce the number of times users has to switch between mouse (e.g. dropdowns) and keyboard (e.g. text entry fields)
- Default dates to the current date, unless itís not a valid date entry
- Eliminate the possibility to select a combined month and year, which has already passed
- Error check if a date exists (i.e. not 31st of February)
- Donít abbreviate months (i.e. "August" rather than "Aug")
- Use a calendar popup, but donít depend on it, since many users wonít use it
- Show the day of the week corresponding to the selected date to reduce errors

Links:
The report Hotel Reservation Websites: Date Entry Analysis

Henrik Olsen | September 18, 2002

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29

Posting added before you last visit at GUUUI Tips and Guidelines
FAQ design tips
"Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are a great way to provide quick, easy answers to users' most common questions. However, ensuring that they fulfill their purpose effectively requires careful planning and design." Jodi Bollaert has collected 16 FAQ design tips.

Links:
The article Mind your FAQs

Henrik Olsen | August 17, 2002

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30

Posting added before you last visit at GUUUI Tips and Guidelines
Using web forms wisely
Jodi Bollaert from IBM gives us a lesson in using form elements wisely. Some important things to remember:

- Give clues to what are acceptable inputs and how it should be formatted when you use text boxes.
- Donít make input boxes to small.
- Sometimes itís easier for the user to simply enter text than select from a dropdown.
- The fastest and easiest method to enter dates is to allow users to enter numbers in clearly labelled fields for month, day, and yeas.
- Radio buttons should always include a default selection.
- End labels with a colon.
- Donít put your labels inside text boxes.
- Do not use reset buttons.
- Place form elements in the same general location throughout the site.

Links:
The article Using Web widgets wisely

Henrik Olsen | August 09, 2002

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