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71

Interfaces for navigating large data tables

"After forms, data tables are likely the next most ubiquitous interface element designers create when constructing Web applications. Users often need to add, edit, delete, search for, and browse through lists of people, places, or things within Web applications. As a result, the design of tables plays a crucial role in such an application's overall usefulness and usability."

Luke Wroblewski shows a number of interface design solutions that enable users to find their way through large data sets.

Links:

  • Refining Data Tables Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 29, 2006

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See also: Web page design (40)  Tips and guidelines (95) 


 

72

How to encourage users to scroll long pages

Studies by UIE show that users have nothing against scrolling long web pages. But pages that appear as if there is nothing below the fold makes people think that there isn't anything to scroll for.

According to Jared Spool, this problem can be solved by cutting of pages at the bottom of the browser window, so that only the top part of the content is visible. This communicates that there is more to see and makes it more likely that people will scroll for the rest of the content.

Links:

  • Utilizing the Cut-off Look to Encourage Users To Scroll Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 14, 2006 - via Column Two

Permanent link Comments (3)

See also: Home pages (9)  Web page design (40) 


 

73

Web navigation has changed

A click stream study from 2005 show changes in the way we navigate the web. More forms are submitted, more pages are opened in new windows and, consequently, the use of the back button has decreased.

- Navigation by clicking links has decreased slightly from 45.7% to 43.5% in the past 11 years
- Opening new windows has jumped from 0.2% to 10.5%
- Form submission has increased from 4.4% in 1996 to 15.3%
- With the increase in new windows and form submissions, the use of the back button has dropped from 35.7% in 1994 to 14.3%
- 76.5% of all selected links were visible in the browser window at load time
- 23.1% of all links followed were below the visible area
- Most users didn't utilize their entire screen for their browser window (about 160 horizontal 170 vertical pixels were unused)

Links:

  • Clickstream Study Reveals Dynamic Web Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 09, 2006

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See also: Research (129)  Navigation (63) 


 

74

Use liquid web page layouts and optimize for 1024x768

According to Jakob Nielsen, web pages should use a liquid layout that stretches to the user's current window size. He recommends that we optimize page layouts for 1024x768 pixels, which is currently the most widely used screen size, but that we make sure it works for any resolution from 800x600 to 1280 x1024.

Pages should also work at smaller and bigger sizes. But a less-than-great design is an acceptable compromise. Fewer than half a percent have screen resolutions of 640x480 and users with large screens rarely maximize their browser window.

A liquid design should scale all the way down to the tiny screens found on mobile devices. But mobile services should be designed specifically for use on small screens.

Links:

  • Screen Resolution and Page Layout Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 07, 2006

Permanent link Comments (2)

See also: Tips and guidelines (95)  Web page design (40) 


 

75

Do links need to be underlined?

Jared Spool has brought up the good old question about whether links need to be underlined.

He doubts that users are less likely to find what they are looking for at sites where links aren't underlined. People will quickly learn how to spot non-standard links by waving their mouse around to see where the browser gives them "the finger."

But users are trained to click on underlined text. Eyetracking studies show that people dart from underlined text to underlined text in their initial exploration of a page.

If sites have some links underlined and others not, people get confused. Jared concludes:

"We think the visual design element of the underline is not required, but it is cruel to make users work extra hard because you can't decide."

Links:

  • Do Links Need Underlines? Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - July 06, 2006

Permanent link Comments (1)

See also: Tips and guidelines (95)  Links (19) 


 

76

Eight usability problems that haven't changed since 1997

Webmonkey has published an excerpt from Jakob Nielsen and Hoa Loranger's new book Prioritizing Web Usability.

In the excerpt, they discuss eight issues that continue to be critical to usable web design:
- Links that don't change color when visited
- Breaking the back button
- Opening new browser windows
- Pop-up windows
- Design elements that look like advertisements
- Violating Web-wide conventions
- Vaporous content and empty hype
- Dense content and unscannable text

Links:

  • Excerpt from the book Prioritizing Web Usability Open link in new window
  • The book at amazon.com Open link in new window
  • The book at amazon.co.uk Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 20, 2006 - via Usernomics

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See also: Books (47)  Tips and guidelines (95)  Research (129)  Links (19)  Text (24) 


 

77

Users love link-rich home pages

Clients want their home pages to be simple. This is often translated into "has to hold as few links as possible."

Jared Spool from UIE argues that exposing people to the content of a site enhances simplicity. With a good design, the upper limit of links is much higher than one might think. Sites with up to 700 links on the home page have proven to work very well for its audience.

But populating a page with every possible keyword won't do the trick. The secret is clustering:

"Users look at each cluster and quickly decide whether the cluster is likely to contain their content or not. By focusing on just one or two clusters, the user winnows down their choices to just a handful of links."

If we don't make the clusters right, user won't succeed. Learning how users think about the content requires research, iterative design, and testing.

Links:

  • Lifestyles of the Link-Rich Home Pages Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 15, 2006

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See also: Tips and guidelines (95)  Simplicity vs. capability (7)  Home pages (9)  Navigation (63) 


 

78

Usability of newsletters and news feeds

In a study, Jakob Nielsen and NN/g have found that the usability of newsletters has increased since their last study in 2004.

Some of their findings:
- The ease of subscribing and unsubscribing newsletters has increased considerably
- Users are extremely fast at processing their inboxes
- In average the participants used 51 seconds reading a newsletter
- 19% of the newsletters where fully read
- 35% of the time, the participants only skimmed a small part of the newsletter
- 67% of the participants had zero eye fixations within the "introductory blah-blah text"
- Participants subscribed to the wrong newsletter format when they had to choose between "HTML" and "Text"
- 82% of the studied users didn't understand the term RSS (Jakob suggest we call them "news feeds").
- Users scan news feeds even more ruthlessly than newsletters

In Jakob Nielsen's opinion e-mail newsletters are still the best way to maintain customer relationships.

Links:

  • Email Newsletters: Surviving Inbox Congestion Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 13, 2006

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See also: E-mails (3)  Text (24)  Research (129) 


 

79

A conversation about design patterns

Luke Wroblewski has published a series of articles discussing design patterns.

Here are few quotes from the articles:

"Design patterns describe solutions. Solutions that we know can work 'positively' for specific problems in specific contexts."

"When many different design teams work on a single large product of a suite of products, consistency is important. Everyone needs to know the same "design language"."

"They provide a way for people to talk about the concept and a way to recognize the solution when a similar problem context arises in the future."

"...one learns the language, works in it until it becomes second nature, and eventually figures out how to transcend it to do truly original work."

"I use patterns partly because they fulfill users' expectations for layout and behavior; if we try to be so original that we go far beyond those expectations, we risk a total failure to communicate with our users."

Links:

  • Design Patterns Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 03, 2006

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Design patterns (8) 


 

80

Study of breadcrumb navigation

Angela Colter and colleagues have surveyed 4,775 catalog web sites to find out how many implement breadcrumbs and what connector character is used. They then conducted a study with 14 test participants solving tasks at four web-sites that use breadcrumbs.

Some highlights:
- 17% of the web-sites used breadcrumbs
- 47% of those sites used the greater than symbol
- All but one of the participants used the breadcrumbs
- Four used breadcrumbs as a consistent strategy
- Five incorrectly assumed that breadcrumbs indicated either the path they had taken to arrive at the current page or a record of where else on the site they had been
- The users sometimes described the back button as being "safer" to use, because they know what page they came from

They conclude that breadcrumbs are used if a breadcrumb label happens to match what the users is looking for. This suggests that breadcrumbs were not used for orientation or back-tracking, but rather a means of moving forward.

Links:

  • Exploring User Mental Models of Breadcrumbs in Web Navigation Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 28, 2006

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Research (129)  Navigation (63) 


 

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