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51

Line length and reading performance

A study by SURL examines the effects of line length on reading performance. Twenty colleage-ages students read news articles displayed in 35, 55, 75, or 95 characters per line (cpl) from a computer monitor. Reading rates were found to be fastest at 95 cpl.

Users indicated a strong preference for either short or long line lengths. Some participants reported that they felt like they were reading faster at 35 cpl, although this condition resulted in the slowest reading speed.

Links:

  • The article The Effects of Line Length on Reading Online News Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - July 22, 2005

Permanent link Comments (2)

See also: Text (24) 


 

52

People use the web to find how-to information

According to Pew Internet and American Life Project 55% of adult American internet users have looked for do-it-yourself information online. 1 in 20 search for help on a typical day.

Looking for how-to information resides in the middle of other common Internet activities in terms of popularity, where:
- 78% research products and services
- 72% read news
- 55% look up how-to information
- 24% bid in online auctions
- 17% visit chat rooms

Links:

  • The report Do-it-yourself Information Online Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 13, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)


 

53

When options are hidden users will pick the first ones

The May 2005 issue of HFI looks at study which has shown that when options in a form element is hidden (e.g. in a drop-down list), people tend to pick one of the first items. Not because people are satisficing, but because it requires less mental workload.

Dr. Eric Schaffer concludes that "If a respondent is picking a known response from a long list (e.g., their state or salutation title), dropdowns may be fine. However, when the respondent is comparing selection options...the behavioral tendency of designers to use dropdowns to save space can be problematic."

Links:

  • The article When what they see is what you get  Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 13, 2005

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See also: Forms (30) 


 

54

Fidelity and media is irrelevant in usability tests

An experiment by Group for User Interface Research has shown that low- and high-fidelity prototypes in both computer and paper media are equally good at uncovering usability issues.

The results support the idea of using low-fidelity prototyping techniques for design and testing. But development teams can choose whatever medium and level of fidelity they consider appropriate, since medium and fidelity has no effect on the quality of usability tests.

Links:

  • The article High or Low Fidelity, Paper or Computer? Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 17, 2005

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See also: Usability testing (68)  Prototyping and wireframing (119) 


 

55

Medical killer design

Jakob Nielsen comments on a field study that identified twenty-two ways that automated hospital systems can result in the wrong medication being dispensed to patients. Most of the flaws are classic usability problems that have been understood for decades.

Links:

  • The article Medical Usability: How to Kill Patients Through Bad Design Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 12, 2005

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56

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

Permanent link Comments (0)

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


 

57

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) 


 

58

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

Permanent link Comments (0)

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


 

59

Usability of websites for teenagers

Jakob Nielsen and NN/G have studied teenagers using 23 web sites. In the study they found that:

- Teenagers have a lower success rate (55%) than adults (66%)
- Their low performance is caused by insufficient reading skills, less sophisticated research strategies, and a dramatically lower patience level
- Surprisingly, tiny fonts caused the teens problems and provoked negative comments
- Teens like cool-looking graphics, but the sites have to be fast and the interaction straight forward
- They don't like to read a lot
- They're easily bored and want interactive features
- The word "kid" is a teen repellent

Links:

  • The article Usability of Websites for Teenagers Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 01, 2005

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Site design (14) 


 

60

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

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Accessibility (13) 


 

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