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Messy interfaces for repeated use and efficiency

Ryan from 37signals has written an interesting post on the trade-off between populating interfaces with many features to improve efficiency versus distributing them over more screens to make them easier to digest.

Referring to Edward Tufte, Ryan explains the dilemma as a question of having information displayed adjacent in space or stacked in time. He concludes that while screens with low complexity gives the eye less to filter through, separating elements onto different screens reduces the need for navigation and makes it easier to move attention from one element to another.


Henrik Olsen - September 01, 2008

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See also: Web page design (40)  Simplicity vs. capability (7) 



Top-10 design mistakes in web applications

According to Jakob Nielsen, these are the 10 most common usability violations found in web applications:

1. Non-standard interface controls, such as home-grown scrollbars
2. Inconsistency in the way things work, appear and are labelled across the app
3. No providing proper affordances that give people visual clues about what they can do with an object (e.g. that they can drag-and-drop an object)
4. Not giving proper feedback about what is happening
5. Bad error messages that don't tell what went wrong and how to fix it
6. Asking for the same information twice
7. Not providing defaults (e.g. in a list of radio buttons)
8. Dumping users into the app without giving them an idea of how it works
9. Not indicating how collected information will be used
10. Offering system-centric features that reflect the system's internal view rather than the users

And generous as Jakob is, he also has a bonus mistake: Reset buttons on web forms.


  • Top-10 Application-Design Mistakes Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 20, 2008

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See also: Web applications (6)  Error handling (7)  Guidelines and Standards (15) 



The ROI of usability is declining

Jakob Nielsen and co. has conducted a study that looks at the benefits of redesigning websites for usability. The study reports an average return of investment (ROI) of 83%. In 2002, the number was 135%.

According to Jakob, the ROI of usability has decreased for two reasons. First, the most obvious usability problems have been eliminated. Second, usability teams haven't been given more funding to challenge the less obvious problems.


  • Usability ROI Declining, But Still Strong Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - January 22, 2008

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See also: E-commerce (27)  Cost-justification and ROI (27) 



Fascinating new way of entering text

Dasher is a really fascinating interface that allows you to write by browsing through letters using a finger, mouse or some other pointing devise.


  • Demonstration of Dasher Open link in new window
  • Try Dasher yourself Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - December 27, 2007

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See also: Cases and Examples (28)  Accessibility (13) 



Free report on accessibility from Jakob Nielsen

As a holiday gift, Jakob Nielsen and co. has made their 148 pages report on online accessibility available for free download.

The report contains:
- Results of usability tests of 19 websites with users with several different types of disabilities who are using a range of assistive technology
- Test data collected mainly in the United States
- 75 detailed design guidelines


  • Beyond ALT Text: Making the Web Easy to Use for Users With Disabilities Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - December 18, 2007

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See also: Tips and guidelines (95)  Accessibility (13) 



Current trends in web design

Ellyssa Kroski has compiled a nice overview of current trends in web design. Besides rounded corners, pastel colors, 3D embossed shiny buttons, floor reflections and large text captions, the latest craze is intuitive, legible, usable, social and rich interfaces that are continuously evolving in response to user needs. It's Jakob Nielsen 2.0.


  • Information Design Principles For Web 2.0 Design: Simple & Social Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - December 12, 2007 - via Usability In The News

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See also: Site design (14)  Visual design (19) 



How usability tests are put together determines the outcome

In this article, Bryan Eisenberg makes an interesting comparison between and According UIE, outperforms Newport News when people are looking for particularly products. But in spite of its lower traffic and reach, Newport News rank higher in terms of revenue.

Why this difference? The answer might be that Newport News relies more on presenting goods within the context of fashion themes and trends, rather than merely classifying them by product categories. This approach might appeal to impulse buyers.

Whether Bryan Eisenberg's analysis is correct or not, the story is a reminder of an important aspect of usability testing: how you test will inevitable influence your results. If UIE had tested people who didn't know in advance what to buy, they may have seen different results.


  • Does Usability Actually Sell Anything? Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - December 10, 2007 - via Usability In The News

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See also: Persuasive design (21)  Usability testing (68) 



100 tips and tools to optimize landing pages has published a list of no less than 100 articles and tools that can help you optimize your landing pages to get visitors to do what you want them to.


  • The Landing Page Design Toolbox: 100 Tools, Tips and Resources Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - December 06, 2007

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See also: Landing pages (5)  Persuasive design (21) 



Create long-term loyalty through experiences that wow

Long-term customer loyalty is achieved by impressing customers again and again. It can't be bought or bottled. It's created though constant moments of "wow," where the product or service pleasantly surprises a customer.

In this essay, Brandon Schauer shows us how the art of the Long Wow is done by immersing ourselves in the customer's world, simulating the experiences though prototyping, and coming up with delights that normally go unfulfilled.


  • The Long Wow Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - October 29, 2007

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See also: Persuasive design (21) 



Use passive voice in headings, blurbs, and lead sentences

"Use active voice" is one of the key web-writing guidelines. But according to Jakob Nielsen, passive voice let us front-load important keywords in headings, blurbs, and lead sentences. This enhances scannability and search engine optimization.


  • Passive Voice Is Redeemed For Web Headings Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - October 23, 2007

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See also: Search engines (7)  Text (24)  Tips and guidelines (95) 


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