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Dear clients, partners, colleagues, friends and readers of GUUUI

I wish clients, colleagues, partners, friends and readers of GUUUI a merry Christmas and a happy new year. I thank you all for the year that has passed.

As 2006 draws to a close, it’s time to take a look back at the year that was.

Below you find a fine selection of the best and most popular post on guuui.com in 2006. Please enjoy.

See you all again in the year 2007. Let’s hope that the year to come will bring peace, love, fun, and usability to everybody.

Henrik Olsen

 

   

GUUUI HIGHLIGHTS 2006

     
 

Research on scroll behaviour

ClickTale has researched how people use scroll on websites. Their results show that:

- 76% of the pages were scrolled to some extend
- 22% of the pages were scrolled all the way to the bottom
- The length of the pages had no significant influence on whether people scrolled to the bottom or not
- The location of the page fold (the bottom border of a web page visible in the browser at load time) is located about 430, 600 and 860 pixels from the top of the page depending on peoples screen size
- The most common location of the fold is around 600 to 610 pixels from the top, but only accounts for about than 10% of the folds.

Links:

  • Unfolding the Fold Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - December 29, 2006 - via Usability in the News

Permanent link Comments (4)

See also: Research (101)  Web page design (29) 

 
 
 

It took 43 people to come up with the 15 different ways of shutting down Windows Vista

According to a former worker at Microsoft, 43 persons where involved in designing and implementing the new shut down feature in Windows Vista.

Their work was exceptionally fruitful. On a laptop you get Off, Lock, Switch User, Log Off, Restart, Sleep, Hibernate, and Shut Down. Combined with all the keyboard shortcuts for the various options, plus pressing the power button and closing the lid, this gives us 15 different ways of shutting down a laptop.

In defence of Microsoft, it should noted that you will only see the Off and Lock options, unless you choose the advanced menu.

Links:

  • How many people does it take to turn off a Vista PC? Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - December 05, 2006 - via Usability In The News

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Bad designs (11) 

 
 
 

Visualizations of clicks on web pages

Crazy Egg is a web statistics tool that can track where people click on a web page and visualize the clicks in different ways. Especially their heatmaps are enlightening. They give you a quick view of what people click on and what is popular on a page.

Besides seeing what is popular, you can use the tool for testing different layouts and compare the results. The click visualizations can also reveal that people may click on areas of your pages that are non-clickable (but probably should be clickable), such as headlines and images.

You can sign up for limited free plan at Creazy Egg.

Links:

  • The statistics tool Crazy Egg Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - November 24, 2006 - via 37signals

Permanent link Comments (3)

See also: Tools (60)  Web page design (29)  Web traffic analysis (9) 

 
 
 

Apple interfaces are just...BOOM!

Steve Jobs, the co-founder and CEO of Apple Computer, likes to say BOOM! when he is thrilled about Apple software. Watch this video of BOOM! highlights.

Links:

  • The Steve Jobs video Open link in new window
  • The boom video remixed Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - September 30, 2006 - via Signal vs. Noise

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Audio and video (18)  Fun music and videos (8) 

 
 
 

Jared Spool on why good content must suck

Hear Jared Spool talk about how to design websites that suck people towards the content they want.

Everyone with the slightest interest in website design should listen to this. Jared is the most knowledgeable usability guy of modern time and in his talk he manages to cover most of his pet topics:

- How people need scent (links containing the words they have in mind) to get to what they are looking for
- How the best links are 7-12 words
- How people don't mind clicking through lots of pages if they just get what they want in the end
- How people love to scroll long pages
- How people love link-rich pages
- How people turn to search engines only when navigation fails

Download the two MP3 files and the presentation slides.

Links:

Henrik Olsen - September 27, 2006

Permanent link Comments (5)

See also: Audio and video (18)  Home pages (5)  Navigation (52) 

 
 
 

User experience podcast

Tired of reading about user experience? Then you might enjoy listing to Gerry Gaffney's user experience podcast UXpod.

I can highly recommend the interviews with Jesse James Garrett about "Nine Pillars of Successful Web Teams" and Donna Maurer on card sorting.

Links:

  • UXpod Open link in new window
  • Interview with Jesse James Garrett about "Nine Pillars of Successful Web Teams" Open link in new window
  • Interview with Donna Maurer on card sorting Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - September 17, 2006

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Blogs (12)  Audio and video (18)  Interviews (14)  Card sorting (9)  The design process (17) 

 
 
 

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.

But according to Jared Spool, pages that seem to be cut off at the bottom of the browser window, showing only the top part of the content below the fold, communicate that there is more to see, and makes it more likely that people will scroll for the additional 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 (2)

See also: Home pages (5)  Web page design (29) 

 
 
 

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 (78)  Web page design (29) 

 
 
 

Video about user experience design at Google

Here's a 30 minute video presentation starring Jen Fitzpatrick, manager of the Google user experience team. She shares examples of how Google have improve the design of their products through user studies, log analysis, and feedback from customer support.

Links:

  • The video The Science and Art of User Experience at Google. Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - July 11, 2006 - via Putting People First

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Audio and video (18)  Cases and Examples (20) 

 
 
 

Seth Godin on broken designs

Here's an entertaining video featuring Seth Godin talking about all the bad designs that surround us and why bad designs exist. The talk is from the Gel 2006 conference.

Links:

  • Seth Godin on broken designs Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 13, 2006 - via goodexperinece.com

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Audio and video (18)  Fun music and videos (8)  Bad designs (11) 

 
 
 

Hand-crafting prototypes in Visio

The Q3 2006 issue of GUUUI looks at how to hand-draw prototypes in Visio using a tablet computer or a pen tablet. It's a fun, fast, dirty and dynamic technique, which is most useful early in the design process, when we are trying out lots of alternatives.

Links:

Henrik Olsen - July 02, 2006

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Prototyping and wireframing (45)  Tools (60)  GUUUI articles (11) 

 
 
 

50% of returned electronics work as designed

A study from the Netherlands found that half of all electronic products returned to the store because of malfunctioning are in full working order. Customers just can't figure out how to use them.

Links:

  • Complexity causes 50% of product returns Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 26, 2006

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Research (101)  Cases and Examples (20) 

 
 
 

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

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Books (41)  Tips and guidelines (78)  Research (101)  Links (14)  Text (16) 

 
 
 

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

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Simplicity vs. capability (4)  Home pages (5)  Navigation (52)  Cartoons (10)  Tips and guidelines (78) 

 
 
 

Video lecture about design thinking by Tim Brown from IDEO

Here's a one hour video starring Tim Brown from the design firm IDEO. He talks about how to fuel innovation by studying people and evolve and validate ideas through rapid prototyping and storytelling.

Links:

  • The video lecture Innovation Through Design Thinking Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 08, 2006 - via LukeW

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Requirement Analysis (16)  Prototyping and wireframing (45)  Audio and video (18) 

 
 
 

Hidden settings in Word

Someone found the manufactures' hidden settings in Word.

Links:

  • Screenshot revealing the hidden settings Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 01, 2006

Permanent link Comments (1)

See also: Misc humor (5) 

 
 
 

B2B sites suck

Business-to-business websites have substantially lower usability than mainstream consumer sites. In a usability test, the B2B sites earned a mere 50% success rate. In contrast, mainstream websites have a success rate of 66%.

According to Jakob Nielsen, the major problems with B2B sites are:
- The fail in supporting customers' decision-making process by preventing them from getting the information they need to research solutions
- They use segmentation that don't match the way customers think of themselves
- They require customers to register to get information, which they are very reluctant to do
- They lack pricing information (the users in the study prioritized prices as the most critical type of information)

Most of the test participants said that when they were thinking of doing business with a company, one of their first actions was to check out its website. By being user-hostile, the B2B sites turn away customers without ever knowing how many sales they've lost.

Links:

  • B2B Usability Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 30, 2006

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Research (101)  Persuasive design (14)  E-commerce (22) 

 
 
 

Web navigation is about moving forward

According to Gerry McGovern, the primary purpose of web navigaton is to help people move forward. It's not to tell them where they have been, or where they could have gone.

"The Back button helps us to get back if we want to get back. The global navigation allows us to reach major sections, no matter what part of the website we are on. Your job is not to design for all possible directions someone might want to take. That leads to a cluttered website and it will clutter the mind of and overload the attention of your customers."

Links:

  • Web Navigation is About Moving Forward Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 25, 2006

Permanent link Comments (1)

See also: Tips and guidelines (78)  Navigation (52) 

 
 
 

People scan content in an F-shaped pattern

In an eyetracking study, Jakob Nielsen found that users often scan content on web pages in an F-shaped pattern:
- First, people scan in a horizontal movement across the upper part of the content area
- Secondly, in a shorter horizontal movement further down the page
- Finally, in a vertical movement along the content's left side

According to Jakob Nielsen the F-pattern behaviour shows that:
- People don't read text thoroughly
- The most important information should be at the top
- Headings and paragraphs must start with information-carrying words that users will notice when they scan down the left side of the content

Links:

  • F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 19, 2006

Permanent link Comments (2)

See also: Research (101)  Text (16)  Eye-tracking (13) 

 
 
 

Predefined tasks in usability tests give flawed results

If usability tests are not guided by what real users want to do, they can give misleading results. Instead of using predefined tasks, Jared Spool suggests that we let the users design their own tasks:

"In interview-based tasks, the participants interested are discovered, not assigned. Unlike scavenger-hunt tasks, the test's facilitator and participant negotiate the tasks during the tests, instead of proceeding down a list of predefined tasks."

According to Jared Spool, it starts with recruiting. When conducting interview-based tasks it's important to identify candidates that have a passion for the subject matter we're evaluating.

The method is very similar to Mark Hurst's Listening labs.

Links:

Henrik Olsen - April 09, 2006

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Usability testing (40) 

 
 
 

How to make users abandon forms

5 ways to make sure that users abandon your forms:
- Ask for information the user doesn't have at their finger tips
- Ask for a lot of information, but don't tell why you need it
- Force users to input data according to how the system wants it
- Provide cryptic error messages that tell users to correct their mistakes, but give no information about what they did wrong
- Split forms up into many segments, but don't give any indication of where users are in the process

I you follow these rules, be sure to overstaff your call center. You're going to need the extra help.

Links:

  • 5 Ways To Make Sure That Users Abandon Your Forms Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 01, 2006

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Tips and guidelines (78)  Forms (15) 

 
 
 

Review of Axure RP Pro

The Q2 2006 issue of GUUUI is a review of the prototyping tool Axure RP Pro.

The good:
- Drag and drop widgets onto a grid (as you might know it from Visio)
- Generate prototypes in a format that behaves like real web pages (i.e. you can interact with forms and pages can scroll)
- Save time on repetitive changes by using custom widgets and templates
- Simulate rich interactivity by showing and hiding layers
- Automatically generate user interface specifications

The bad:
- You can't navigate your pages inside Axure by clicking links and buttons
- Somewhat expensive

Links:

Henrik Olsen - April 01, 2006

Permanent link Comments (5)

See also: Prototyping and wireframing (45)  GUUUI articles (11) 

 
 
 

Are ugly sites more trustworthy?

Josh Lehman has published a summary of the discussion about whether users trust a site more if it looks ugly. There seem to be an agreement among designers that it's not the ugliness of the sites that make them successful, but rather their usefulness and ability to provide the features the users want.

Josh concludes:

"I'm sorta relying on a consistant market need for design work in order to feed my family and pay the bills."

"But all that aside... I agree with the overall point that a site's function should always trump it's visual design."

Links:

  • The Ugly Conversation Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - March 30, 2006

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Visual design (16) 

 
 
 

Are ugly sites more successful?

Rumor has it that ugly sites are more successful. What do the usability experts think?

Links:

  • Comic from OK/Cancel Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - March 27, 2006

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Cartoons (10)  Fun with Jakob Nielsen (7) 

 
 
 

Stockholm syndrome in usability tests

The term Stockholm Syndrome describes the situation where a hostage becomes sympathetic to his captors.

When Jensen Harris had to conduct his first usability test at Microsoft, he expected that the participants would let out their rage at Microsoft.

But it turns out that people tend to be less critical than they probably should be. The participants consider themselves guests in the usability lab, don't want to insult the hosts, and are embarrassed when they can't complete a task.

"Whatever the cause, this tendency to not criticize the software is a major risk to the results of standard usability testing."

For this reason, Microsoft supplements standard testing by initiatives in which they watch the software more in the real world.

Links:

  • Usability Stockholm Syndrome Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - March 25, 2006

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Usability testing (40) 

 
 
 

Online video interview with Jakob Nielsen

DevSource has published a nice 8-minute online video interview featuring Dr. Jakob Nielsen.

Nielsen addresses a wide range of topics, such as proper attitude for programmers, the importance of prototyping in design, and the reasons why PDF, Flash, and local search engines can hurt more than they help.

Links:

  • Online video interview with Jakob Nielsen Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - March 17, 2006 - via WebWord

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Interviews (14)  Search (24)  Usability testing (40)  Prototyping and wireframing (45)  Audio and video (18) 

 
 
 

Why don't I like Microsoft's paperclip?

Help, when you don't need it (video clip).

Links:

  • Why don't I like Microsoft's paperclip? Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - March 16, 2006 - via Creating Passionate Users

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Fun music and videos (8)  Audio and video (18) 

 
 
 

Spending on advertising vs. customer experience

What is most profitable? Investing in marketing to drive traffic to a web site or investing in the customer experience of the site?

According to ICE, it's insane to begin anywhere else than improving customer experience. "If you were throwing a party, wouldn't you clean up your house before you invited people over?"

By improving the customer experience, we improve conversion rate and can make more money with fewer people.

To maximize return on investments, the only smart move is to begin with customer experience and spend money on driving traffic to the site later on.

Links:

  • Put Your Money Where The Experience Is Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - March 14, 2006

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Persuasive design (14)  Cost-justification and ROI (22) 

 
 
 

Alphabetized lists are random lists

"Unless you can be absolutely sure that users will know the exact terms in your list, alphabetical order is just random order."

According to Jared Spool, alphabetized lists work for people's name, states, cities, car models, and teams. But they fall apart for things where users don't know the exact wording. Users must resort to the same behavior they need when links are randomly ordered. They must scan every link to make sure they can see what is relevant and what isn't.

Instead, we should use a divide-and-conquer approach by categorizing the items. Once broken up into small groups, it doesn't matter what the order of the links are.

Links:

  • Alphabetized Links are Random Links Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 12, 2006

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Information architecture (12)  Sitemaps (2)  Links (14)  Navigation (52)  Tips and guidelines (78) 

 
 
 

How evil is your site?

Test how evil a site is with the Gematriculator.

For your information:
- Google.com is 41% evil
- Microsoft.com is 8% evil

Links:

  • The Gematriculator Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - January 31, 2006 - via Gizmodo

Permanent link Comments (1)

See also: Funny tools and games (10) 

 
 
 

593 ways of spelling Britney Spears

People often mispel words when using search engines. Google has registered 593 ways of spelling Britney Spears.

Links:

  • 593 ways of spelling Britney Spears Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - January 26, 2006 - via justaddwater.dk

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Misc humor (5)  Search (24) 

 
 
 

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

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Research (101)  Credibility, Trust and Privacy (6)  Visual design (16) 

 
 
 

Visio - the interaction designer's nail gun (2nd edition)

The Q1 2006 issue of GUUUI is a second edition of an article on using Visio for rapid prototyping for the web that was published at GUUUI back in Q3 2002. The new edition includes a new and improved version of the GUUUI Prototyping Tool for Visio 2003.

Links:

Henrik Olsen - January 15, 2006

Permanent link Comments (6)

See also: GUUUI articles (11)  Prototyping and wireframing (45) 

 
 
 

Avoid making wrong conclusions from user analysis

According to Jared Spool, many teams rush the process from user observations to design recommendations. They are so anxious to fix things that they end up making the wrong conclusions and fixing the wrong things.

To make solid recommendations we should state all the alternative inferences we can for the observations we make, collect enough data to prove or disprove a given inference, compare multiple types of data sources, and construct quick prototypes to test our recommendations.

Links:

  • The Road to Recommendation Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - January 10, 2006

Permanent link Comments (0)

See also: Usability testing (40) 

 
 
 

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