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User-centered design of company development frameworks

Introducting a user-centered design process in a company can be a challenge. Whitney Quesenbery recommends applying an iterative and user-centered approach when doing so.


  • The article Being User-Centered When Implementing a UCD Process

Henrik Olsen - September 29, 2002

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See also: Implementing user-centred design (7) 



Date-entry guidelines

Based on usability tests Travel UCD has reviewed the design for entering dates into hotel booking systems. They suggest 25 date-entry guidelines, of which many would also apply to similar types of sites.

Some highlights:
- Use dropdowns to eliminate date formatting errors
- When selecting dates from a dropdown, combine month and year in one dropdown to reduce the number of items the user has to change
- Reduce the number of times users has to switch between mouse (e.g. dropdowns) and keyboard (e.g. text entry fields)
- Default dates to the current date, unless it's not a valid date entry
- Eliminate the possibility to select a combined month and year, which has already passed
- Error check if a date exists (i.e. not 31st of February)
- Don't abbreviate months (i.e. "August" rather than "Aug")
- Use a calendar popup, but don't depend on it, since many users won't use it
- Show the day of the week corresponding to the selected date to reduce errors


  • The report Hotel Reservation Websites: Date Entry Analysis

Henrik Olsen - September 17, 2002

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See also: Forms (11) 



FAQ design tips

"Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are a great way to provide quick, easy answers to users' most common questions. However, ensuring that they fulfill their purpose effectively requires careful planning and design." Jodi Bollaert has collected 16 FAQ design tips.


  • The article Mind your FAQs

Henrik Olsen - August 16, 2002

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See also: Sections (5) 



Using web forms wisely

Jodi Bollaert from IBM gives us a lesson in using form elements wisely. Some important things to remember:

- Give clues to what are acceptable inputs and how it should be formatted when you use text boxes.
- Don't make input boxes to small.
- Sometimes it's easier for the user to simply enter text than select from a dropdown.
- The fastest and easiest method to enter dates is to allow users to enter numbers in clearly labelled fields for month, day, and yeas.
- Radio buttons should always include a default selection.
- End labels with a colon.
- Don't put your labels inside text boxes.
- Do not use reset buttons.
- Place form elements in the same general location throughout the site.


  • The article Using Web widgets wisely

Henrik Olsen - August 09, 2002

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See also: Forms (11) 



Oversimplifying complex problems

Standing in front of clients and colleagues and be expected to provide instant solutions to complex problems is something many in our practice have experienced. But relying on expert's statements is not the way to go. In George Olsen's opinion, too many gurus are promoting oversimplified and absolutist ideas in order to promote themselves as the ones with the answers.

Being a totally relativistic and declare "It depends!" won't work either. "There are no easy answers. But … let me suggest there's at least one easy step: start by saying, "it can depend, but, in this context, here's what I recommend…""


  • The article (Over)simple Answers for Simple Minds

Henrik Olsen - August 07, 2002

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See also: Expert reviews (6) 



Survival of the fittest through iterative design

Comparing iterative design with Darwin's concept of natural selection, John S. Rhodes from explains why iterative design and testing are important.

Natural selection happens through the production of many offsprings, each with their unique differences. The ones that are strong and fit in a way that make them succeed in their environment, will survive. That's why many quick and dirty prototypes (offsprings) and continuous testing (selection in a natural environment) are important to a successful development workflow.


  • Evolution, Usability, and Web Design

Henrik Olsen - July 30, 2002

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See also: The design process (14)  Usability testing (30)  Prototyping and wireframing (32) 



Designing your site’s navigation

The article Designing your site’s navigation by Martijn van Welie discusses commonly used solutions for site navigation. The article looks at the pros and cons of each type of navigation scheme and gives advice on when to use which type of scheme.


  • The article Designing your site’s navigation

Henrik Olsen - July 28, 2002

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See also: Navigation (46) 



Seductive Design for Web Sites

Web interaction design is not only a means of making sites more useable. It can also be used for facilitating cross- and up-selling. Amazon is one of the best examples with their recommendations and product combos at special prices.

UIE experienced from web-site usability testing that users won't be lured away until they've accomplished some or their entire goal:

"The seducible moment can happen only when users have completed at least part of their original quest. It's difficult to lure users away until they've reached this (self-defined) point; before that, they will simply ignore distractions."

Up- and cross-selling techniques aren't just for e-commerce sites. For instance, UIE has started cross-selling on their own web site. Following each article is a section titled "For more usability information," which has links to courses and other material.


  • The article Seductive Design for Web Sites

Henrik Olsen - July 18, 2002

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See also: Research (93)  Persuasive design (13) 



Users either click toward their goal, or they click the Back button

In the July 2002 issue of the Good Experience newsletter, Mark Hurst returns to his "page paradigm" that he proposed a couple of years ago.

The page paradigm states that "…on any given Web page, users have a particular goal in mind, and this goal drives their use. Either they click on a link that they think will take them toward the goal, or (seeing no appropriate forward clicks) they click the Back button to take another path."

According to Hurst, designing a user experience with the page paradigm in mind requires three steps:

1. Identify users' goals on each page.
2. De-emphasize or remove any page elements (or areas of a site) that don't help to accomplish the goal.
3. Emphasize (or insert) those links, forms, or other elements that either take users closer to their goal, or finally accomplish it.


  • Online Experience: The Page Paradigm

Henrik Olsen - July 15, 2002

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See also: Navigation (46) 



Reduce Redundancy

According to Jakob Nielsen "User interface complexity increases when a single feature or hypertext link is presented in multiple ways. Users rarely understand duplicates as such, and often waste time repeating efforts or visiting the same page twice by mistake."


  • The article Reduce Redundancy: Decrease Duplicated Design Decisions

Henrik Olsen - June 11, 2002

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See also: Links (12)  Navigation (46) 

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