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Research (129)  Tips and guidelines (95)  Tools (106)  Books (47)  Audio and video (48)  Interviews (30)  Cases and Examples (28)  Talks and presentations (18)  GUUUI articles (11)  Primers (14)  Online books (5)  Posters (5)  Glossaries (3)  People and organisations (3) 
 

231

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  Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 13, 2005

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See also: Forms (30)  Research (129) 


 

232

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 Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 13, 2005

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See also: Error handling (7)  Tips and guidelines (95) 


 

233

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 Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 27, 2005 - via Column Two

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See also: Tools (106)  Design patterns (8) 


 

234

Creating interactive prototypes with Adobe Acrobat

In a two-part article Dave Rogers from gotomedia explains how to build interactive prototypes in PDF by creating your pages in your favourite prototyping tool (e.g. Visio) and linking them together in Adobe Acrobat.

It sounds a bit cumbersome to me compared to exporting your pages to HTML directly from your prototyping tool (as explained in my article Visio - The interaction designer's nail gun). But the approach has the advantage that you can build working forms in Acrobat.

Links:

Henrik Olsen - May 26, 2005 - via Column Two

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See also: Tools (106)  Prototyping and wireframing (119) 


 

235

Fidelity and media is irrelevant in usability tests

An experiment by Group for User Interface Research has shown that low- and high-fidelity prototypes in both computer and paper media are equally good at uncovering usability issues.

The results support the idea of using low-fidelity prototyping techniques for design and testing. But development teams can choose whatever medium and level of fidelity they consider appropriate, since medium and fidelity has no effect on the quality of usability tests.

Links:

  • The article High or Low Fidelity, Paper or Computer? Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 17, 2005

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See also: Research (129)  Usability testing (68)  Prototyping and wireframing (119) 


 

236

Users' expectations of the design of search

According to Jakob Nielsen search is such a prominent part of the web experience that users have developed a precise idea of how it's supposed to work. Deviating from users' expectations almost always causes usability problems.

Users expect search to have three components:

- A box where they can type words
- A button labeled "search" that they click to run the search
- A list of top results that's linear, prioritized, and appears on a new page

Given how ingrained it is, it's crucial to avoid invoking user's expectations for other interactions. Users' expectations are so strong that the label "Search" equals keyword searching, not other types of search.

Links:

  • The article Mental Models For Search Are Getting Firmer Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 09, 2005

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See also: Search (27)  Tips and guidelines (95) 


 

237

The core principles of visual communication

According to Luke Wroblewski, visual communication is a key component of interface design and unfortunately often under-represented in interaction design methodologies.

A well thought-out visual organization "can greatly enhance usability by grouping information into meaningful page elements and sequences. Such a system relies on an understanding of how people use visual relationships to distinguish objects and what those relationships reveal to viewers..."

In a presentation, Luke Wroblewski introduces the core principles of visual communication and how they can be put to use in the design of web applications.

Links:

  • Visual Communication & Web Application Design Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 01, 2005 - via InfoDesign

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See also: Visual design (19)  Talks and presentations (18) 


 

238

Guidelines for helping people when things go wrong

A white paper by 37signals lists 20 rules for improving contingency design - design for when things go wrong.

1. Use language your customers understand
2. Be polite
3. Offer an escape route
4. Offer customized "Page Not Found" error pages
5. Make sure the browser's "Back" button works
6. Reduce the need for constant back-and forth between different pages to fix errors
7. Use highly visible color, icons, and directions to highlight the problem
8. Don't make customers guess
9. Briefly and clearly explain what's happening
10. Don't block content with ads
11. Use smart search technology that understands common mistakes
12. Don't offer too many or inaccurate search results
13. Help log-in with tips or by emailing information
14. Offer contextual FAQs
15. Answer e-mails quickly and effectively
16. Don't force registration in order to assist customers
17. Solicit feedback on contingency design
18. Provide a fallback plan
19. Learn from mistakes
20. Plan for failure

Links:

  • The white paper Contingency Design: Maximizing Online Profitability By Helping People When Things Go Wrong Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 17, 2005

Permanent link Comments (2)

See also: Tips and guidelines (95)  Error handling (7) 


 

239

Medical killer design

Jakob Nielsen comments on a field study that identified twenty-two ways that automated hospital systems can result in the wrong medication being dispensed to patients. Most of the flaws are classic usability problems that have been understood for decades.

Links:

  • The article Medical Usability: How to Kill Patients Through Bad Design Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 12, 2005

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See also: Research (129) 


 

240

Checkout guidelines

Neil Turner outlines ten ways to improve the usability of the ordering process at e-commerce sites:

1. Identify users with their e-mail address
2. Break up the ordering process into bite size chunks
3. Tell users where they are and where they're going
4. Don't make the ordering process harder than it needs to be
5. Address common user queries
6. Highlight required fields
7. Make the ordering process flexible
8. Put users' minds at ease
9. Have users confirm their order before buying then provide confirmation
10. Send a confirmation e-mail

Links:

  • The article Ten ways to improve the usability of your ecommerce site Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 10, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Shopping Carts (9)  Tips and guidelines (95) 


 

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