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31

Trigger words makes users dig into a site

According to Jared Spool, users browse websites using a Move-Forward-Until-Found Rule:

"...a web page can do only one of two things: either it contains the content the user wants or it contains the links to get them to the content they want. If a page doesn't follow this rule, then the users stop clicking..."

Trigger words is what makes users dig in to a site - words that contain the essential elements that provide the motivation to continue with the site.

In a study where the test participants were first interviewed about what they hoped to find on a number of large websites, UIE found that when the participants were successful in finding their target content, the words that they used in the interview appeared 72% of the time on the site's front page. When they where unsuccessful, their words appeared only 6% of the time.

UIE also found that when the participants didn't find any trigger words, they were far more likely to use the site's search function.

Links:

  • The article The Right Trigger Words Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - December 13, 2004

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See also: Text (24)  Links (19)  Research (129) 


 

32

Is Navigation Useful?

In an article from 2000, Jakob Nielsen states that navigation is overdone at many sites. His studies have shown the same user behaviour over and over again:

- Users look straight at content and ignore navigation areas
- Users look only for the one thing they have in mind
- Users will ruthlessly click the Back button if a page isn't relevant to the their goals
- Users don't understand where they are in a website
- Users don't spend time learning certain design elements

Nielsen's advice is to get rid of superfluous navigation:

- Limit pervasive linking to maybe five or six things
- Do not link to all sections from all pages - let people go back to the front page
- Use breadcrumbs to link to all levels of the hierarchy above the current location
- Provide useful links to related content

Links:

  • The article Is Navigation Useful? Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - December 03, 2004

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See also: Tips and guidelines (95) 


 

33

Paging vs. scrolling search results

In a study from 2002, SURL examined how much information should be presented at one time on a search result page.

In the study, users were asked to locate specific links on three different search result pages:
- One layout with 10 links per page
- One with 50 links per page
- One with 100 links on one page

The study showed that participants favoured and performed best on layouts with both reduced paging and scrolling.

Overall, the fifty-link condition had the fastest search time and was most preferred, possible because this layout required only a limited amount of paging.

The layout with hundred links was by far least preferred, while the ten link layout performed the worst.

Links:

  • The article Paging vs. Scrolling Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - September 18, 2004

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See also: Research (129)  Search (27) 


 

34

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) 


 

35

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)  Links (19)  Research (129) 


 

36

Web-usability is improving

According to a survey conducted in late 2003 by the Nielsen Norman Group, usability on the web is on the upswing.

Some results from the survey:
- The overall success rate of completing a site-specific task was 66 percent and 60 percent for web-wide tasks. This compares to an overall success rate of 40 percent in a similar survey conducted in 1997.
- For site-specific tasks, the success rates of the less- and more-experienced groups were 59 percent and 72 percent, respectively, while web-wide tasks were completed at a rate of 52 percent and 67 percent, respectively.
- Web users are being more precise in their choice of search terms. In 1994 the mean length of a search query was 1.3 word, in 1997 1.9 word, and in 2003 2.2 words.
- One area in need of improvement is site search. While 56 percent of the searches done using a popular search engine were successful, only 33 percent of searches using a specific site's search tool succeeded.

Links:

  • The article Web-User Satisfaction on the Upswing Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 13, 2004

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See also: Research (129)  Site design (14)  Search (27) 


 

37

The Page Paradigm again, again

Mark Hurst goes about his Page Paradigm once again, and he is forgiven, since it has a simplicity and consequence to it that Einstein would have loved.

Mark's Paradigm goes like this: On any given web page, users will either...
- click something that appears to take them closer to the fulfilment of their goal,
- or click the Back button on their Web browser.

This time Mark takes a look at some of the inherent consequences of the Paradigm, which includes:
- Users don't much care where they are in a website
- Users ignore breadcrumbs and other navigational elements that don't lead them toward their goal
- Consistency doesn't help users

What matters to the users is whether it's easy to advance to the next step towards their goal and elements that don't do the job will simply be ignored.

Einstein said that "Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler." Some argue that Mark's Paradigm might be too simple.

Links:

Henrik Olsen - March 09, 2004

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See also: Tips and guidelines (95)  Web page design (40) 


 

38

Breadcrumb usage requires training

SURL has made another interesting study on breadcrumb usage

Links:

Henrik Olsen - February 24, 2004

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See also: Research (129) 


 

39

Myth of the three-click rule

If you design web sites, you probably heard this statement: "I should be able to find everything on a site in just three clicks".

After hearing about the three-click rule for many years and having it as a requirement in some client projects, UIE decided to find out if the rule was true. By analyzing data from a study of 44 users attempting 620 tasks, UIE found that:

- There was no correlation between the number of times users clicked and their success in finding the content they sought.
- There wasn't any more likelihood of a user quitting after three clicks than after 12 clicks.
- An 80% task completion rate was seen after an average of 15 clicks.
- There was no correlation between the number of times users clicked and their reported satisfaction with the site.

UIE concludes that "The number of clicks isn't what is important to users, but whether or not they're successful at finding what they're seeking."

Links:

  • The article Testing the Three-Click Rule Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - November 27, 2003

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See also: Research (129) 


 

40

Common web design practices

At the site Web Design Practices by Heidi P. Adkisson you'll find statically research on common design practices currently in use on the Web, covering items such as global and local navigation, breadcrumbs, search and links.

The site can be useful as a guide for making design decisions, but as Adkisson says:

"The data presented are intended to inform design decisions, not dictate them. Common practice does not necessarily equate with best practice - and the relationship between consistency and usability on the Web is remains a lightly researched area."

The site is an outgrowth of Adkisson's Master's thesis.

Links:

  • The site Common Design Practices Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - October 13, 2003

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See also: Links (19)  Search (27)  Web page design (40)  Research (129) 


 

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