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41

The surfers are back

A report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows that surfing for fun is now one of the most popular activities on the web.

"More Americans are turning to the internet as a place to hang out. Nearly a third of internet users go online on a typical day for no particular reason, just for fun or to pass the time."

The number of people reporting that they go online on a typical day to surf for fun is up from 25 million people in November 2004 to 40 million in December 2005.

The act of surfing for fun stands only behind using e-mail (52%), using search engines (38%), and is almost as popular as reading news (31%).

Links:

  • The press release Web Surfing for Fun Becomes a Staple of Internet Life Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 16, 2006 - via Putting people first

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42

A study of older web users

Webcredible have conducted a usability test comparing eight older and eight younger users complete the same tasks on the web.

Some interesting results:
- The older users were more likely to blame themselves for any difficulties they encountered
- A majority of the older users missed critical information that required scrolling
- The older users were less likely to understand technical language
- The older users were more likely to click on elements which weren't links
- Many of the older users expressed a strong aversion to downloading from the internet
- The older users where more likely to use the available search functionality
- The older participants required over double the average time to complete a task
- The older users displayed a tendency to read all of the text appearing on a page before being willing to decide on their next course of action
- Most of the older participants reported anything less than 12-point type as being too small to read comfortably.

Links:

  • Improve Usability for Older Users Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 05, 2006 - via UsabilityNews

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43

Web users judge sites in the blink of an eye

A study has shown that users judge sites within the first twentieth of a second and that their decision has a lasting impact.

The lasting effect of first impressions is known to psychologists as the "halo effect". If you can snare people with an attractive design, they are more likely to rate the site more favourably. According to the researcher Gitte Lindgaard of Carleton University in Ottawa, this is because of "cognitive bias". People enjoy being right, so continuing to use a website that gave a good first impression helps to prove to them that they made a good initial decision.

The study is published in the journal Behaviour and Information Technology vol. 25.

Links:

  • The article Web users judge sites in the blink of an eye Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - January 18, 2006

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See also: Credibility, Trust and Privacy (6)  Visual design (19) 


 

44

Only experts use help

In usability tests Jensen Harris has observed that help in Microsoft Office is mostly used by experts and enthusiasts. While novices and intermediates click around and experiment, experts try to reason thing out and look them up in help.

Jensen suggests that reasons for the varied usage of help include:
- Only experts know the "magic" words to bring up what they're looking for
- Help doesn't help you become familiar with a piece of software - it's designed to troubleshoot, not to teach.
- The process of experimenting with the product is totally removed from opening and reading articles in the help window
- Experts use more of the powerful and involved features, and thus benefit from the help system more.

Links:

  • Help Is For Experts Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - December 17, 2005

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See also: Help (3) 


 

45

Designing pages listing links to content

According to Jared Spool, gallery pages - pages listing links to content pages - are the hardest working pages on a web site. They separate those users who find the content they are looking for from the users who don't.

Studies by UIE show that when gallery pages don't contain the information that users will need to make their choice, they have to resort to "pogosticking" - jumping back and forth between the gallery and the content pages hoping they'll eventually hit the content they desire.

UIE also noticed that users expect the most important items to always be listed first in the gallery. If the first few items aren't of interest, they often assume the rest will be even less interesting.

Links:

  • Galleries: The Hardest Working Page on Your Site Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - December 01, 2005

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See also: Persuasive design (21)  Sections (8)  Web page design (40)  Navigation (63) 


 

46

Usability is more important that aesthetics in the long run

The October 2005 newsletter from HFI is a discussion of how beauty can influence users' overall impression of a product and how to measure the product-emotion relationship.

The newsletter mentions a study by M. Hassenzahl where a MP3 application was evaluated with a variety of different visual designs. They study showed that:
- When participants only looked at the MP3 player, the overall rating of the product was based on its perceived beauty and anticipated usability
- When participants were allowed to use the player, the overall rating of the product was more influenced by participants' experience of using the product

The study suggests that the emotional aspects of a design are important in attracting customers in the first place. However, when the product is judged through usage over time, usability is what matters most.

Links:

  • Is Beauty the new usability attribute? Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - November 16, 2005

Permanent link Comments (1)

See also: Emotional design (10)  Visual design (19)  Usability testing (68) 


 

47

Demographics is not critical when recruiting study participants

When recruiting participants for usability testing, field research and the like, candidates experience and behaviour is more important than demographics.

According to Jared Spool, studies of user experience professionals have shown that successful teams have learnt that candidates' previous experience and how they will behave in the study is more important than where they live, how old they are, and how much they earn. You don't need to have someone who is in your target audience. You only need someone who behaves like people in your audience group and is comfortable with the study situation.

Links:

  • Putting Perfect Participants in Every Session Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - November 13, 2005

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See also: User research (23)  Usability testing (68) 


 

48

Global navigation is rarely helpful

According to Jared Spool from UIE, persistent global navigation isn't important to users:

"Maybe they'll click on the global navigation on the home page (however, probably not, if the page is well designed). Then they'll never click on it again, because, after all, they are now looking for local information - not global information"

"We've observed that it's almost always the case that if a user is clicking on global navigation, it's because they are completely lost."

"Having global navigation isn't a bad thing. It's just not something that should garner a lot of resources, as it's unlikely to be important in the user experience."

Links:

  • The article Global Site Navigation: Not Worthwhile? Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - October 21, 2005 - via Usernomics

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See also: Navigation (63) 


 

49

Users' expectations of search

Based on a usability test of a system that allows people to search a large set of content Donna Maurer interpreted the users' expectations of search:

- It is better to put more than one word in as one word gives too much stuff
- Adding an extra word gives fewer results
- The first word in the search box is more important than the other words
- If the words make a sensible phrase the search engine should return results for the phrase
- If the words do not make a sensible phrase, the search engine shouldn't look for the phrase.

Links:

  • Regular folks searching Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - October 14, 2005

Permanent link Comments (3)

See also: Search (27) 


 

50

Eyetracking as a supplement to traditional usability tests

SURL have studied how eyetracking can be used to supplement traditional usability tests. They found that eyetracking data can be used to better understand how users search the interface for a target and what areas of a page are eye-catching, informative, frequently ignored and distracting.

The study is based on a test of three toy e-commerce sites, which is described in detail in the article.

Links:

  • The article Hotspots and Hyperlinks: Using Eye-tracking to Supplement Usability Testing Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 02, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Web page design (40)  Eye-tracking (14)  Usability testing (68) 


 

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Methods and the design process

Prototyping and wireframing (119)  Usability testing (68)  Cost-justification and ROI (27)  User research (23)  Personas (19)  The design process (24)  Eye-tracking (14)  Card sorting (13)  Web traffic analysis (12)  Expert reviews (11)  Implementing user-centred design (9)  Site and flow diagramming (6)  Envisionments (4)  Use Cases (3) 

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E-commerce (27)  Persuasive design (21)  Visual design (19)  Information architecture (15)  Accessibility (13)  Search engines (7)  Credibility, Trust and Privacy (6)  Emotional design (10)  Simplicity vs. capability (7)  Web applications (6)  Intranets (3) 

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