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31

Avoid links that scroll to sections of pages

According to Jakob Nielsen, we should avoid links that scroll to sections of a page, since users expect that links will take them to a new page.

Studies have shown that within-page links typically waste far more time than they save because users click back and forth multiple times to review the same material.

If you must use within-page links, tell the user that clicking the link will scroll to the page to the relevant section.

Only for very long pages, such as long alphabetized lists and FAQs, will the time saved be worth the confusion that within-page links can cause. Also, linking to a specific section on a different page is not as bad as using within-page links on a single page, since the users are taken to a new page.

Ideally, create separate pages for everything that serves as a link destination.

Links:

  • Avoid Within-Page Links Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 25, 2006

Permanent link Comments (2)

See also: Navigation (63)  Links (19) 


 

32

Alphabetized lists are random lists

"Unless you can be absolutely sure that users will know the exact terms in your list, alphabetical order is just random order."

According to Jared Spool, alphabetized lists work for people's name, states, cities, car models, and teams. But they fall apart for things where users don't know the exact wording. Users must resort to the same behavior they need when links are randomly ordered. They must scan every link to make sure they can see what is relevant and what isn't.

Instead, we should use a divide-and-conquer approach by categorizing the items. Once broken up into small groups, it doesn't matter what the order of the links are.

Links:

  • Alphabetized Links are Random Links Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 12, 2006

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Information architecture (15)  Sitemaps (2)  Links (19)  Navigation (63) 


 

33

Best bets - hand-crafted search results

Much can be done to improve the quality of search results. But according to James Robertson, no amount of tweaking search engines will ensure that the most relevant results always appear at the beginning of the list. This is where "best bets" come in.

Best bets are a hand-created list of key resources for common queries, presented prominently at the beginning of the search results. By analyzing search statistics, we can ensure that the most useful pages are listed right at the top of popular searches.

Links:

  • Search engine 'best bets' Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - December 06, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Search (27) 


 

34

Explain icons with labels

"Part of the user experience efforts around Outlook 98 was improving the menu and toolbar structure. One of the problems that were noticed was that non-expert users didn't use the toolbar at all. One change caused a total turnaround: labeling the important toolbar buttons."

According to Jensen Harris, icons can work by themselves, but the richness is just not there relative to human language.

Links:

  • The Importance Of Labels Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - November 06, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Navigation (63) 


 

35

Drop-downs or radio buttons

Dissatisfied with guidelines from the old GUI days that tell us to use drop-downs for long lists and radio buttons for short ones, Donna Maurer has done some thinking herself:

- When users are unfamiliar with the items in a list, radio buttons can assist them by communicating the domain at a glance
- On forms that will be used frequently, radio buttons are far easier and faster because they don't have to be opened and are easier to take in a glance
- When designing for the web screen real estate isn't an issue because of "the magic gadget called a scroll bar."
- Since frequent users become familiar with placement of items on a screen, the spatial placement of radio buttons can help them fill them in quickly
- Experienced users might prefer drop-down list that allow them type the first letter to get to the target item

Donna concludes that it all depends on user context, not on size.

Links:

  • It's not about size, it's about context - radio buttons or drop-downs Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - October 29, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Forms (30) 


 

36

Simplifying registration forms

Six tips from Caroline Jarrett on how to make registration forms as easy as possible:

- Explain why you're asking people to register
- Make sure you offer something that users want
- Offer a sample that of what people will get if they register
- Ask as few questions as possible
- Be careful about asking invasive questions
- Don't ask people to register multiple times

Links:

  • Registration Forms - what to do if you can't avoid Them Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - September 11, 2005 - via Dey Alexander

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Forms (30) 


 

37

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 Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 29, 2005

Permanent link Comments (1)

See also: Navigation (63) 


 

38

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 Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 15, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: E-commerce (27)  Search (27) 


 

39

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 Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 09, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Site design (14) 


 

40

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 Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - July 12, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Persuasive design (21)  E-commerce (27)  Landing pages (5)  Web page design (40) 


 

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