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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) 
 

271

How sites complies with common standards

According to Jakob Nielsen, "much of the Web is like an anthill built by ants on LSD." Websites are too difficult to use because they deviate from expected norms.

Comparing two studies, Jakob has estimated the extent to which web designs complies with common standards:
- 37% of design elements were done according to the same way by at least 80% of the sites
- 40% of design elements were done the same way by at least 50% the sites
- 23% of design elements were done in so many ways that no single approach dominated

Jakob argues that we must move as far as possible into the realm of design conventions, because people become accustomed to the prevailing standards. They assume that every site will work the same way as other sites they know.

Links:

  • The article The Need for Web Design Standards Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - September 13, 2004

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See also: Guidelines and Standards (15)  Research (129) 


 

272

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

Links:

  • More highlights by CyberJournalist.net 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) 


 

273

Designing the optimal flow

Psychologists have studied "optimal human experience" for many years, often called "being in the flow". In his paper, Benjamin B. Bederson reviews the literature on flow, and takes a look at how it can be related to interface design.

An optimal flow has the following characteristics:
- It challenges us and requires skill without being too hard to use
- It makes it possible for us to concentrate and focus at the task at hand without interruption
- It allow us to stay in control
- It gives us immediate feedback about progress
- It makes us lose track of time

What is most surprising about the findings is that when we experience the optimal flow, we are challenged and have to spend effort to acquire skills.

Links:

  • The paper Interfaces for Staying in the Flow Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - September 08, 2004 - via UI Designer

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See also: Research (129)  Navigation (63) 


 

274

Eight quick ways to fix your search engine

Almost every site's search engine could use improvement. Unfortunately, development teams are often stuck tweaking the search technologies that has been purchased and installed.

Jeffery Veen has eight quick ways to improve existing search engines:
1. Take away as much features as you can to simplify your results page
2. Make sure the default ranking you select matches your user needs
3. Make sure the search field has something in it before allowing the form to be submitted
4. Make best bets by taking the top 50 search queries on your site and find three to five pages that satisfy each query.
5. Simplify the layout of your search result page
6. Offer help for zero results
7. If your content is categorized, include links at the top of the result page that show how many results match each category
8. If you link to a page that offers usage instructions, include interfaces for those features so they can be used without switching back and forth.

Links:

  • The article 8 Quick Ways to Fix Your Search Engine Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - September 05, 2004

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


 

275

Web sites are secondary to user experience

According to Jakob Nielsen, the Internet user experience is becoming one of dipping a toe into websites rather than truly visiting them to explore and use them in depth. Users view the Internet as an integrated whole, and use search engines to hunt for specific answers.

To attract users and keep them involved, you should:
- Offer fly-trap content to attracts users by providing clear answers to common problems
- Embellish the answers with rich "see also" links to related content and services
- Go beyond pure information and provide analysis and insight for people who want more
- Publish a newsletters to build relationships

Links:

  • The article When Search Engines Become Answer Engines Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 23, 2004

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See also: Tips and guidelines (95)  Site design (14) 


 

276

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.

Links:

  • 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) 


 

277

The Interaction Design Group (IxDG)

IxDG is an association that serves the needs of the international community of practitioners, teachers, and students of interaction design. Its mission is to evangelize and advance the profession and bring interaction designers together.

At www.ixdg.org you'll find news, jobs, tools, and resources for interaction designers. IxDG also hosts the IxD Discussion, a mailing list that provides an international forum for the discussion of interaction.

Links:

  • The IxDG web site Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 14, 2004

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See also: Websites (11)  People and organisations (3) 


 

278

Users' expectations on the location of common page elements

SURL has examined where users from four geographical areas worldwide expect common web page elements on e-commerce sites to be located. The results showed that users generally expected:
- Links to the front page to be located at the top-left of the page
- Ads to be located at the top of the page
- Internal links to be located at the left side of the page
- External links to be located at the left and right sides of the page
- Links to shopping carts and help to be located at the top-right of the page

Links:

  • The article Preliminary Examination of Global Expectations of Users' Mental Models for E-Commerce Web Layouts Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 04, 2004

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See also: Web page design (40)  Navigation (63)  Links (19)  Research (129) 


 

279

Effects of margins and leading on reading performance

SURL has studied reading performance with four layouts using different margins and leading (space between lines). The results showed that the layouts with margins improved comprehension of the texts, but made reading speed slower. Leading didn't have any significant effect on reading performance. Users favored the layout with margins and high leading, because they found it easier to read.

Links:

  • The article Reading Online Text: A Comparison of Four White Space Layouts Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 01, 2004

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See also: Text (24)  Web page design (40)  Research (129) 


 

280

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.

Links:

  • 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) 


 

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