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Top 10 UX myths

With a little help from his twitter friends, Keith Lang has complied a list of top 10 User Experience Design myths:

- If the Design is a Good One, You Don't Need to Test It
- People Don't Change
- Design to Avoid Clicks
- UX Design Stops at the Edges of the Product
- If you Have Great Search, You Don't Need Great Information Architecture
- Can't Decide? Make it a Preference
- Design Always with Implementation in Mind
- People Know What They Like
- People Read
- The Design Has to be Original


  • Top UX Myths Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 26, 2009

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See also: Simplicity vs. capability (7)  Usability testing (68) 



Web usability has improved, but people are still getting lost

According to Jakob Nielsen, web usability has taken hold in recent years. His tests show that success rates have increased 15% from 2004 to 2009. But people still can find their way around websites. From 2004 to 2009, user failures cased by bad information architecture has only decreased by 4%.


  • IA Task Failures Remain Costly Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 20, 2009

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See also: Navigation (63)  Research (129) 



28% of internet users have tagged or categorized content online

Folksonomies are spreading. A survey from December 2006 has found that 28% of internet users in the US have tagged or categorized content online, such as photos, news stories or blog posts. On a typical day, 7% of the users say they tag or categorize online content.

Taggers are classic early adopters. They are likely to be under 40 and have higher levels of education and income.

The survey was carried out by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.


  • Report on the tagging survey Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - January 31, 2007

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See also: Navigation (63)  Research (129) 



Should we organize things into topics or according to usage?

According to Donald Norman, well-structured organization schemes, where hammers are in the hammer section and nails in the nail section, are practical when we want to find things. But when we engage in an activity, we need an activity-centered design, where the nails are right next to the hammer.

"The best solution is to provide both solutions: taxonomies and taskonomies. Some websites organize all their items logically and sensibly in a taxonomic structure, but once a particular item has been selected, taskonomic information appears. For example, if examining a pair of pants, the website might suggest shoes and shirts that match."

"Activity-centered design organizes according to usage: traditional human-centered design organizes according to topic, in isolation, outside the context of real, everyday use. Both are needed."


  • Logic Versus Usage: The Case for Activity-Centered Design Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - September 25, 2006

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See also: Navigation (63) 



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.


  • Alphabetized Links are Random Links Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 12, 2006

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See also: Sitemaps (2)  Links (19)  Navigation (63)  Tips and guidelines (95) 



Easy site diagramming

Stephen Turbek shows how to save time on site diagramming using either Excel and Visio or Word and Inspiration.

"Use these lazy techniques and spend your time on better and more interesting problems than lining up little boxes!"


  • The Lazy IA's Guide to Making Sitemaps Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 01, 2006

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See also: Site and flow diagramming (6)  Tools (106) 



Categorization doesn't work for large amounts of information

According to Clay Shirky, the ways we apply categorization to the electronic world are based on bad habits. In his opinion tagging (free-form labelling, without regard to categorical constraints) is a better fit for large amounts of information.

Categorization can work for a limited information space that is based on formal and stable entities organized by small number of expert cataloguers. But it doesn't work for a large amount of information that has no formal categories and a non-expert user base.


  • The article Ontology is Overrated: Categories, Links, and Tags Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 22, 2005 - via InfoDesign

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See also: Navigation (63) 



How to make a faceted classification and put it on the web

Faceted classifications are increasingly common on the web, especially on commercial web sites. In this article Willian Denton suggests a seven-step model for the creation of a faceted classification, and gives advice on when to use one, how to make it, how to store it on a computer, and how to design the web interface.


  • How to Make a Faceted Classification and Put It On the Web Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - March 20, 2004

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The myth of 7 +/- 2

Periodically, we hear about the rule of 7 +/- 2 from inexperienced interaction designers: Users can't handle more than 7 bullets on a page, seven items in a form list, or more than seven links in a menu. According to James Kalback, this has no evidence in reality


  • The Myth of Seven, Plus or Minus 2 Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 23, 2003

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See also: Research (129)  Links (19)  Navigation (63) 



The power of metadata-based web content

Brett Lider and Anca Mosoiu have written an eye-opening article on the benefits of using metadata to organize web content and separating the content aspect of web sites from the presentation layer.

One of the big advantages of separating content and presentation is that relations between content entities, for example a product and its related services, isn't trapped a in a proprietary system, such as a traditional content management system (CMS). In traditional CMS, relations between content are created by cross-reference hyperlinks. Using metadata to establish such relations, important relations can be preserved and reused in different contexts.


  • Building a Metadata-Based Website Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 29, 2003

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