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51

Categorization doesn't work for large amounts of information

According to Clay Shirky, the ways we apply categorization to the electronic world are based on bad habits. In his opinion tagging (free-form labelling, without regard to categorical constraints) is a better fit for large amounts of information.

Categorization can work for a limited information space that is based on formal and stable entities organized by small number of expert cataloguers. But it doesn't work for a large amount of information that has no formal categories and a non-expert user base.

Links:

  • The article Ontology is Overrated: Categories, Links, and Tags Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 22, 2005 - via InfoDesign

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Information architecture (15)  Navigation (63) 


 

52

The core principles of visual communication

According to Luke Wroblewski, visual communication is a key component of interface design and unfortunately often under-represented in interaction design methodologies.

A well thought-out visual organization "can greatly enhance usability by grouping information into meaningful page elements and sequences. Such a system relies on an understanding of how people use visual relationships to distinguish objects and what those relationships reveal to viewers..."

In a presentation, Luke Wroblewski introduces the core principles of visual communication and how they can be put to use in the design of web applications.

Links:

  • Visual Communication & Web Application Design Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 01, 2005 - via InfoDesign

Permanent link Comments (1)

See also: Visual design (19)  Talks and presentations (18) 


 

53

30% of web users have low literacy

According to Jakob Nielsen 30% of web users have low literacy and the number will probably grow to 40% in the next five years.

Unlike higher-literacy users, lower-literacy users don't scan text. They can't understand a text by glancing at it and must carefully read word for word. Scrolling breaks their visual concentration and they start skipping text as soon as it becomes too dense.

Some recommendations:
- Use text aimed at a 6th grade reading level on important landing pages
- On other pages use an 8th grade reading level
- Place main points at the top of the pages
- Make search tolerant of misspellings
- Simplify navigation
- Streamline the page design
- Avoid text that moves or changes

A study showed that revising the text of a web site for lower-literacy users made it perform significant better for both lower- and higher-literacy users.

Links:

  • The article Lower-Literacy Users Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - March 17, 2005

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See also: Accessibility (13)  Text (24)  Tips and guidelines (95) 


 

54

Eyetracking study of e-commerce sites

Eyetools Inc and MarketingSherpa have published the report "The Landing Page Handbook". The report describes the results of an eyetracking study of typical e-commerce sites and has design guidelines for improving web page layout.

Some highlights from the report:
- The upper-left corner is always seen
- Most web pages are scanned, not read
- Any text that is underlined or blue get high readership and many people will read only the emphasized text before deciding to read on
- Material underneath images is viewed quite often
- People experience such a strong pull to look at images that they can trump left-to-right reading
- Navigational links or bottoms usually distract visitors from the main purpose of the page

Links:

  • The article Are Your Visitors Seeing What You Think? Open link in new window
  • The book The Landing Page Handbook Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - March 03, 2005 - via UI Designer

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See also: Persuasive design (21)  E-commerce (27)  Landing pages (5)  Eye-tracking (14)  Research (129)  Books (47) 


 

55

Browse vs. search

This paper describes an interesting study of e-commerce sites that was set up to determine factors involved in the decision to use search or browse menus to find products.

According to the authors Michael A. Katz and Michael D. Byrne, the decision of a user to search or browse a site is affected by multiple factors including:
- The site information architecture in terms of labeling and menu structure
- The user's inclination to search
- The prominence of search and browse areas

They found that:
- Given broad, high-scent menus, participants searched less than 10% of the time, but they searched almost 40% of the time when faced with narrow, low-scent menus
- Participants showed a higher success rate when using the menus to find products as opposed to search
- Searching for products wasn't faster or more accurate than browsing

Links:

Henrik Olsen - February 24, 2005

Permanent link Comments (1)

See also: Navigation (63)  Search (27)  E-commerce (27)  Research (129) 


 

56

Users research weeks before buying online

In a study performed by DoubleClick in conjunction with comScore Networks they found that:
- Roughly half of online shoppers conduct research on a search engine before making an online purchase
- Most users complete product-related searches weeks ahead of their actual purchases
- Users conduct more general searches (77%) than brand-only searches (22%)
- Buying decisions are generally spread out over a number of searches that vary by product category, where buyers on sports and fitness sites made an average of 2.5 searches and travel buyers conducted 6 searches

Links:

  • The article Consumers Search Before Buying Online Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 17, 2005

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See also: Search engines (7)  E-commerce (27) 


 

57

Segmenting online customers by behaviour

According to the authors of this article, the most effective segmentation scheme for online consumers is to group them by their online behaviour.

They have defined seven segments:

- Quickies (8%): Short visits to a few familiar sites.
- Just the Facts (15%): Search for specific information from known sites.
- Single Mission (7%): Information gathering or completion of a certain task at an unfamiliar site.
- Do It Again (14%): Visits to favourite sites.
- Loitering (16%): Longer leisure visits to familiar sites.
- Information, Please (17%): In-depth information gathering from a range of unfamiliar sites.
- Surfing (23%): Short visits to a lot of mostly unfamiliar sites.

The authors claim that by decoding the type of behaviour users are engaged in, online marketers will raise the odds of communicating with their target consumers at the time they are most likely to pay attention to and be influenced by offers.

Links:

Henrik Olsen - February 07, 2005

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See also: Persuasive design (21)  User research (23)  E-commerce (27)  Research (129) 


 

58

Accessible doesn't equal usable for people with disabilities

The Communication Technologies Branch of the United States National Cancer Institute has cunducted usability test with blind people to learn how they work with web-sites and what that means for designers and developers. They conclude that meeting the required accessibility standards doesn't necessarily mean that a web-site is usable for people with disabilities.

The authors describe how blind users work with their screen readers and present 31 guidelines based on their findings.

Links:

  • The article Guidelines for Accessible and Usable Web Sites Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - January 17, 2005

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See also: Research (129)  Accessibility (13) 


 

59

Is your site ready for Christmas?

If you are in Christmas mood, 37signal have a lot of ideas for improving the online holiday customer experience. Here's a few:

- State the cutoff date for holiday delivery
- Offer gift finder categories directly on the home page
- Offer a "Shop By Interest" option
- Offer a "Shop By Price Range" option
- Offer links to gifts specifically for certain age groups
- Offer links to gifts specifically for men or women
- Lure value-conscious customers in by emphasizing low cost items on the home page
- Let people buy gift cards via the usual checkout process
- Give customers a sneak preview of your wrap
- Offer pre-wrapped gifts

Links:

  • 37signal's ideas for improving the holiday customer experience Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - November 29, 2004

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: E-commerce (27)  Tips and guidelines (95) 


 

60

Big, bold, and colourful doesn't make things noticeable

The fact that people tend to ignore big, flashy, and colourful banners at the top of web pages suggest that screaming out loud doesn't guarantee that something will be noticed.

According to Don Norman, this has to do with conventions. People guide their search using previous knowledge about websites and direct their attention directly to the location most likely to contain information of interest, such as lists of blue underlined links.

Don's moral: "...if you want something to be salient, follow conventions. Violate the conceptual model, even if the violation seems perfectly sensible, and you are apt to discover that readers miss critical information."

Links:

  • The article Banner Blindness, Human Cognition and Web Design Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - November 22, 2004

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Tips and guidelines (95)  Visual design (19)  Ads (9)  Web page design (40) 


 

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