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Striving for consistency is the wrong approach

According to Jared Spool the problem with striving for consistency is that we focus our thoughts purely on the design. Instead, we should ask ourselves whether the users are able to understand how to use the product.

"When you think about consistency, you're thinking about the product. When you're thinking about current knowledge, you're thinking about the user."

So why do we gravitate to consistency?

"Because it's easier to think about. You don't actually have to know anything about your users to talk about making things consistent."


  • Consistency in Design is the Wrong Approach

Henrik Olsen - September 19, 2005 - via elearningpost

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Minimum requirements for international sites

Jakob Nielsen gives his advice on the minimum requirements for ensuring that international users can use your site:

- Accommodate both common and variable name spellings
- Offer a single field for persons names
- Accept an extended character set that goes beyond plain ASCII
- Refer to "postal code/ZIP code" instead of just ZIP code, which is a U.S.-only term.
- Allow for international phone numbers containing a varying number of digits and a country code
- Give measurements in both meters and inches
- Provide temperatures in both Fahrenheit and Celsius
- If you have a multistandard product, explicitly say so


  • The article International Sites: Minimum Requirements

Henrik Olsen - August 09, 2005

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See also: Tips and guidelines (63) 



Usability of websites for teenagers

Jakob Nielsen and NN/G have studied teenagers using twenty-three 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


  • The article Usability of Websites for Teenagers

Henrik Olsen - February 01, 2005

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See also: Research (88) 



Web sites are secondary to user experience

According to Jakob Nielsen, the Internet user experience is becoming one of dipping a toe into websites rather than truly visiting them to explore and use them in depth. Users view the Internet as an integrated whole, and use search engines to hunt for specific answers.

To attract users and keep them involved, you should:
- Offer fly-trap content to attracts users by providing clear answers to common problems
- Embellish the answers with rich "see also" links to related content and services
- Go beyond pure information and provide analysis and insight for people who want more
- Publish a newsletters to build relationships


  • The article When Search Engines Become Answer Engines

Henrik Olsen - August 23, 2004

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See also: Tips and guidelines (63) 



Web-usability is improving

According to a survey conducted in late 2003 by the Nielsen Norman Group, usability on the web is on the upswing.

Some results from the survey:
- The overall success rate of completing a site-specific task was 66 percent and 60 percent for web-wide tasks. This compares to an overall success rate of 40 percent in a similar survey conducted in 1997.
- For site-specific tasks, the success rates of the less- and more-experienced groups were 59 percent and 72 percent, respectively, while web-wide tasks were completed at a rate of 52 percent and 67 percent, respectively.
- Web users are being more precise in their choice of search terms. In 1994 the mean length of a search query was 1.3 word, in 1997 1.9 word, and in 2003 2.2 words.
- One area in need of improvement is site search. While 56 percent of the searches done using a popular search engine were successful, only 33 percent of searches using a specific site's search tool succeeded.


  • The article Web-User Satisfaction on the Upswing

Henrik Olsen - May 13, 2004

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See also: Research (88)  Search (21)  Navigation (44) 



The ten most violated Jakob Nielsen design guidelines

Jakob Nielsen has made a top ten on usability principles from his book Homepage Usability which are most frequently violated:

1. Emphasize what your site offers that's of value to users and how your services differ from those of key competitors.
2. Use a liquid layout that lets users adjust the homepage size.
3. Use color to distinguish visited and unvisited links.
4. Use graphics to show real content, not just to decorate your homepage.
5. Include a tag line that explicitly summarizes what the site or company does.
6. Make it easy to access anything recently featured on your homepage.
7. Include a short site description in the window title.
8. Don't use a heading to label the search area; instead use a "Search" button to the right of the box.
9. With stock quotes, give the percentage of change, not just the points gained or lost
10. Don't include an active link to the homepage on the homepage.


  • The article The Ten Most Violated Homepage Design Guidelines

Henrik Olsen - November 15, 2003

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See also: Home pages (2)  Guidelines and Standards (10)  Research (88) 



Why websites are getting easier to use

A nice article on BBC online about the tenets of usability.


  • Article

ben hyde - November 05, 2002

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Common design features shared by the Web's top sites

Web Developer's Virtual Library have made some research on what design features the most visited sites in the US have in common. Some of the findings are:

- Verdana as main font (60%)
- White as background colour (90%)
- Default link colours (60%)
- Top navigation (90%)
- Client side JavaScript (100%)
- Style Sheets (70%)
- Page width optimised for 800 pixels width screens
- File size in the 35-35 kb rang with associated files from 30 to 70 kb

In the authors opinion these features define the 'best practice' guidelines for web design, because these are the features that the Web's top sites apply to. Question is if the implementation of these features is the reason why they are the most visited. I doubt it.


  • The article Ten Top Sites Compared

Henrik Olsen - February 01, 2002

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See also: Research (88) 

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