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Top Ten Web Design Mistakes 2005

It's time for Jakob Nielsen's Top Ten Web Design Mistakes. In 2005 Jakob has asked his readers about their opinion. Here's the result:

#1 Legibility problems due to small fonts and low contrast
#2 Non-standard links that violate common expectations
#3 Flash with no purpose beyond annoying people
#4 Content that is not written for the web
#5 Bad search
#6 Browser incompatibility
#7 Cumbersome forms
#8 No contact information or other company information
#9 Layouts with fixed width
#10 Photo enlargements that doesn't show the users the details they expect


  • The article Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 2005

Henrik Olsen - October 03, 2005

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See also: Forms (11)  Text (14)  Links (10)  Search (21)  Flash (6)  Browsers (2) 



Server side usability - How to make web servers behave

Most usability professionals don't have a driver's licence to servers and are not aware of the step that can be taken to make them behave in a user-friendly way. The GUUUI Q4 2004 issue takes a look at how to avoid that server technology becomes an obstacle to usability.

The article suggests that we should:

- Make the "www" prefix optional
- Support "www" prefix typos
- Support domain name typos and spelling errors
- Support erroneous country codes
- Use tidy URLs
- Don't leave users in a dead end when a page cannot be found
- Alert users when a server error occurs
- Have a "We are updating" page ready

Henrik Olsen - October 01, 2004

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See also: GUUUI articles (7)  Tips and guidelines (63)  URLs (3)  Error handling (5) 



Accessible pop-ups

Pop-up windows are prohibited by the WCAG accessibility standards. To quote:

"Until user agents allow users to turn off spawned windows, do not cause pop-ups or other windows to appear…"

Also, Javascript, which is often used to open pop-ups, is forbidden: Quote:

"Ensure that pages are usable when scripts, applets, or other programmatic objects are turned off or not supported…"

If you for some reason are forced to use pop-ups, the least you can do is to make sure they are accessible for people without Javascript. Caio Chassot shows you how.


  • The article Accessible Pop-up Links

Henrik Olsen - June 15, 2004

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See also: Accessibility (10)  Javascript (3) 



Speed Up Your Site

Jennifer Alvin from Digital Web Magazine reviews Andrew King's book Speed Up Your Site: Web Site Optimization:

"Andrew King offers a variety of ways to trim the fat in common design elements, as well as tips for increasing server performance. No other book I've seen covers so many types of optimization in one place with such a thorough investigation of why the tricks work. The extensive technical explanations alone are worth the list price, and each is backed up with a step-by-step approach to making your site a speedy champion."


  • The review at Digital Web Magazine
  • Sample chapters at
  • The book at
  • The book at

Henrik Olsen - August 17, 2003 - via Digital Web Magazine's newsletter

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See also: Books (32)  Download time (2) 



User-friendly URLs

Often URLs are hard to type, remember and preserve, because they are littered with punctuation and identifiers that are irrelevant to us. Thomas A. Powell and Joe Lima show us how to design well-formed and user-friendly URLs.

Some highlights:
- Keep them short and sweet
- Use lower case
- Do not expose technology via directory names (e.g. /cgi-bin/)
- Avoid punctuation in file names (e.g. product_spec.html)
- Plan for host name typos (e.g. or
- Allow omission of the www prefix (e.g.
- Add guessable entry point URLs (e.g.
- Remove or rewrite query strings (e.g. posting.asp?postingID=313 to posting313.asp)


Henrik Olsen - April 13, 2003

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See also: Tips and guidelines (63)  URLs (3) 



User-Centered URL Design

Jesse James Garrett looks at the readability of URLs and some techniques to improve human guess-ability.


  • The Essay
  • Jesse's IA resources

ben hyde - January 27, 2003

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See also: Tips and guidelines (63)  URLs (3) 



iHotelier: Demonstrating the Potential of Flash for Web App Design

From a design perspective, creating a successful hotel reservation system can be one of the more complex user experiences.

Christine Perfetti (UIE) wrote about a Flash-based hotel reservation system that has recently caught attention: iHotelier.

It demonstrates how Flash-based applications can deliver users positive experiences, where HTML, DHTML and even sophisticated JavaScripting leave off.


Pieter-Jan Pruuost - December 12, 2002

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See also: Cases and Examples (12)  Flash (6) 



How to create the best user experiences with Macromedia Flash

Flash is a very powerful tool, but is of no added value if the designer does not master the tool or the medium. Macromedia has the Usability Guidelines you've been looking for. Designed for the 21st Century Flash Designer q;)


  • Macromedia's Flash Usability Guidelines, Tips & Tricks, Examples, Cases, and Whitepapers

Pieter-Jan Pruuost - October 17, 2002

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See also: Tips and guidelines (63)  Flash (6) 



The truth about download time

When UIE did a study on how visitors perceived download time on 10 different sites over a 56 kbps modem, they found that there was no correlation between the actual download time and the perceived speed reported by the users. Instead they found a strong correlation between perceived download time and whether users successfully completed their task, suggesting that if people can’t find what they want on a site, they will regard it as a waste of time. This suggests that download time might not be as important, as many usability experts assert.


  • The article The Truth About Download Time

Henrik Olsen - October 10, 2002

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See also: Research (88)  Download time (2) 



Creating better web interfaces with Flash MX

According to Christine Perfetti from UIE, Flash MX and its improved backend integration gives us the ability to build better and more sophisticated web applications.

Compared with HTML, Flash has the advantages of:
- Immediate responses to user interactions, without having to wait for new pages to load
- More sophisticated client-side interactions, such as drag-and-drop and zoom
- The ability to integrate a workflow in one visual display

In the article, Perfetti reviews some examples of product configuration applications build in Flash. You should also take a look at the BMW Virtual Center. Especially its model selection step, which would be very difficult to build in HTML without reloading all the time.


  • The article Flash Strikes Back: Creating Powerful Web Applications
  • BMW Virtual Center

Henrik Olsen - September 26, 2002

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See also: Flash (6) 

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