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Users ignore decorative images

In this article, Jakob Nielsen shows how eyetracking studies reveal that user pay close attention to images on websites that contain relevant information (such as product images), but completely ignore "fluffy pictures" that are purely decorative.

What Jakob forgets to mention is that eyetracking equipment only records eye fixations and not peripheral vision, that is, what we are able to see outside the center of gaze. So the studies don't prove that "feel-good" imagery fail their mission.


  • Photos as Web Content Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - November 01, 2010

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See also: Research (130)  E-commerce (28)  Web page design (41) 



Designing for happiness

Dana Chisnell has done some research into what happiness is and how to design happiness into user experiences. According to Dana, there are three levels of happy user experiences:

- Mindfulness: The feeling of being paid attention to, that the designer is being considerate of our needs and wants.

- Flow: The feeling being of fully focused in a task to the point where we loose track of time.

- Meaning: The feeling of fellowship, making a difference and being involved in something bigger than yourself.

In the article, Dana gives example of sites that have accomplished to build these types of happiness into their designs.


  • Beyond Frustration: Three levels of happy design Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 22, 2010

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Adding fun to the user experience

In this article, Jared Spool looks at how four businesses made their products more fun and engaging by adding elements of play to the user experience.


  • Designing with the Elements of Play Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 19, 2010

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See also: Persuasive design (23)  Cases and Examples (28) 



Don Norman on designs that makes us happy

Donald Norman is always worth listening to. Here, he gives a short talk on how design can make us happy.


  • Don Norman: The three ways that good design makes you happy Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - March 21, 2009

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See also: Talks and presentations (18) 



Is your app an ass-kisser?

If your app was an employee, what kind of employee would it be?

- The Ass-Kisser?
- Clueless Guy?
- The Paper Hat Guy?
- Brilliant but temperamental?
- Anal-retentive Guy?
- The Show-off?
- Just-Trust-Me Guy?
- The Undecider?

People react to computers in the same way they react to other people. Thinking of applications as creatures with personalities - as Kathy Sierra does here and Alan Cooper does in his 14 principles of polite apps - can be quite rewarding.


Henrik Olsen - March 27, 2007

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See also: Misc humor (8) 



Interview with Luke Wroblewski about visual design and usability

UIE has published an interview with Luke Wroblewski, author of the book Site-Seeing: A Visual Approach to Web Usability. In the interview, Luke talks about how visual design can improve a site's usability.

"When properly applied, visual design is all about communication. The better at communicating we are, the easier it is for our users to use and appreciate the web sites we design."


  • Where Visual Design Meets Usability - An Interview with Luke Wroblewski , Part I Open link in new window
  • Where Visual Design Meets Usability - An Interview with Luke Wroblewski , Part II Open link in new window
  • Luke's book at Open link in new window
  • Luke's book at Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - July 02, 2006

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See also: Interviews (30)  Visual design (20) 



The battle between usability and user-experience

To Thomas Baekdal there is a conflict between high usability and great user experiences. Usability is about the ability to use something, while user-experience is about feelings and making people happy.

Freeways are usable, since they take you from A to B in the most effortless way. But they are also utterly boring. A twisting mountain road on the other hand is exiting. But far from usable.

According to Baekdal, we end up with mediocrity if we try to balance usability and user-experience. It's like trying to turn a mountain road into a freeway.

Instead we should focus on creating synergy by "making it easy to be happy."

"The result is that you use usability to take away all the things that distracts you from happiness, and you use the elements of user-experience to empower what people can do."


  • The Battle Between Usability and User-Experience Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 27, 2006

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Usability is more important that aesthetics in the long run

The October 2005 newsletter from HFI is a discussion of how beauty can influence users' overall impression of a product and how to measure the product-emotion relationship.

The newsletter mentions a study by M. Hassenzahl where a MP3 application was evaluated with a variety of different visual designs. They study showed that:
- When participants only looked at the MP3 player, the overall rating of the product was based on its perceived beauty and anticipated usability
- When participants were allowed to use the player, the overall rating of the product was more influenced by participants' experience of using the product

The study suggests that the emotional aspects of a design are important in attracting customers in the first place. However, when the product is judged through usage over time, usability is what matters most.


  • Is Beauty the new usability attribute? Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - November 16, 2005

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See also: Visual design (20)  Usability testing (71)  Research (130) 



Perceived usability and aesthetics

Usability News has tested the correlation between perceived usability and aesthetics.

The results showed that when the test participant where asked to predict the usability of a site, they ranked the site with balanced colours and layout highest.

However, user satisfaction reported after the sessions were related to successful navigation more than aesthetic appearance.


  • The article Aesthetics and Usability: A Look at Color and Balance Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 12, 2003

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See also: Visual design (20)  Research (130) 



Emotion and design:


provides examples of how emotion impacts on our experience (percieved or otherwise) - but of course this does need to be ballanced with usability ;-)


  • the article Open link in new window
  • Interview with Don Norman about emotion and affect Open link in new window
  • Time Pressure and Creativity: Why Time is Not on Your Side Open link in new window
  • Article in Interactions Magazine, ix (4), 36-42 Open link in new window

ben hyde - August 28, 2002

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See also: Visual design (20) 


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