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Office workers waste time fixing printers

In a survey of 2,000 UK office workers a quarter said that printers are the products they spend most time trying to fix. Half said they sometimes have to spend up to 10 minutes fixing jams. According to the survey, IT departments are more concerned about the cost of printers than the long term expense of bad usability.


  • Usability is neglected in favour of cost-cutting Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - November 15, 2006 - via Usability In The News

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See also: Cases and Examples (28) 



Label placement in forms

Matteo Penzo has conducted an eyetracking study to evaluate the best solutions for label placement in forms. A number of suggested guidelines arose from their test results:

- Place labels above input fields so that users aren't forced to look separately at the label and the input field
- Be careful to visually separate labels from the previous input field
- If you choose to place labels to the left of input fields, make them right-aligned
- Don't use bold labels - they are a bit more difficult for users to read than plain text
- Use drop-down list with care since they are very eye-catching


  • The article Label Placement in Forms Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - November 12, 2006

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See also: Forms (30)  Eye-tracking (14)  Tips and guidelines (95) 



Motorola users are struggling with usability

According to a poll by the magazine Mobile, more than three quarters of Motorola mobile phone users would not buy another Motorola handset because they are too difficult to use.

"In the survey of 55 Motorola customers, 78% said they wouldn't buy a Motorola handset again, with the majority citing problems with usability. The figure was slightly higher among first-time Motorola users. As many as 85% of the 48 first-time Motorola users in the poll want to switch to another manufacturer."

"The sample survey was dominated by RAZR owners, who made up almost half of all those asked. The survey revealed that 80% of RAZR users wanted to jump ship to another manufacturer with their next purchase."


  • Ease-of-use dogs Moto Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - October 31, 2006 - via Usability in the News

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See also: Bad designs (20) 



Web navigation has changed

A click stream study from 2005 show changes in the way we navigate the web. More forms are submitted, more pages are opened in new windows and, consequently, the use of the back button has decreased.

- Navigation by clicking links has decreased slightly from 45.7% to 43.5% in the past 11 years
- Opening new windows has jumped from 0.2% to 10.5%
- Form submission has increased from 4.4% in 1996 to 15.3%
- With the increase in new windows and form submissions, the use of the back button has dropped from 35.7% in 1994 to 14.3%
- 76.5% of all selected links were visible in the browser window at load time
- 23.1% of all links followed were below the visible area
- Most users didn't utilize their entire screen for their browser window (about 160 horizontal 170 vertical pixels were unused)


  • Clickstream Study Reveals Dynamic Web Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - August 09, 2006

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See also: Navigation (63) 



50% of returned electronics work as designed

A study from the Netherlands found that half of all electronic products returned to the store because of malfunctioning are in full working order. Customers just can't figure out how to use them.


  • Complexity causes 50% of product returns Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 26, 2006

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See also: Bad designs (20) 



Eight usability problems that haven't changed since 1997

Webmonkey has published an excerpt from Jakob Nielsen and Hoa Loranger's new book Prioritizing Web Usability.

In the excerpt, they discuss eight issues that continue to be critical to usable web design:
- Links that don't change color when visited
- Breaking the back button
- Opening new browser windows
- Pop-up windows
- Design elements that look like advertisements
- Violating Web-wide conventions
- Vaporous content and empty hype
- Dense content and unscannable text


  • Excerpt from the book Prioritizing Web Usability Open link in new window
  • The book at Open link in new window
  • The book at Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 20, 2006 - via Usernomics

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See also: Books (47)  Tips and guidelines (95)  Links (19)  Text (24) 



Usability of newsletters and news feeds

In a study, Jakob Nielsen and NN/g have found that the usability of newsletters has increased since their last study in 2004.

Some of their findings:
- The ease of subscribing and unsubscribing newsletters has increased considerably
- Users are extremely fast at processing their inboxes
- In average the participants used 51 seconds reading a newsletter
- 19% of the newsletters where fully read
- 35% of the time, the participants only skimmed a small part of the newsletter
- 67% of the participants had zero eye fixations within the "introductory blah-blah text"
- Participants subscribed to the wrong newsletter format when they had to choose between "HTML" and "Text"
- 82% of the studied users didn't understand the term RSS (Jakob suggest we call them "news feeds").
- Users scan news feeds even more ruthlessly than newsletters

In Jakob Nielsen's opinion e-mail newsletters are still the best way to maintain customer relationships.


  • Email Newsletters: Surviving Inbox Congestion Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 13, 2006

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See also: E-mails (3)  Text (24) 



B2B sites suck

Business-to-business websites have substantially lower usability than mainstream consumer sites. In a usability test, the B2B sites earned a mere 50% success rate. In contrast, mainstream websites have a success rate of 66%.

According to Jakob Nielsen, the major problems with B2B sites are:
- The fail in supporting customers' decision-making process by preventing them from getting the information they need to research solutions
- They use segmentation that don't match the way customers think of themselves
- They require customers to register to get information, which they are very reluctant to do
- They lack pricing information (the users in the study prioritized prices as the most critical type of information)

Most of the test participants said that when they were thinking of doing business with a company, one of their first actions was to check out its website. By being user-hostile, the B2B sites turn away customers without ever knowing how many sales they've lost.


  • B2B Usability Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 30, 2006

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See also: Persuasive design (21)  E-commerce (27) 



Study of breadcrumb navigation

Angela Colter and colleagues have surveyed 4,775 catalog web sites to find out how many implement breadcrumbs and what connector character is used. They then conducted a study with 14 test participants solving tasks at four web-sites that use breadcrumbs.

Some highlights:
- 17% of the web-sites used breadcrumbs
- 47% of those sites used the greater than symbol
- All but one of the participants used the breadcrumbs
- Four used breadcrumbs as a consistent strategy
- Five incorrectly assumed that breadcrumbs indicated either the path they had taken to arrive at the current page or a record of where else on the site they had been
- The users sometimes described the back button as being "safer" to use, because they know what page they came from

They conclude that breadcrumbs are used if a breadcrumb label happens to match what the users is looking for. This suggests that breadcrumbs were not used for orientation or back-tracking, but rather a means of moving forward.


  • Exploring User Mental Models of Breadcrumbs in Web Navigation Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 28, 2006

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See also: Navigation (63) 



People scan content in an F-shaped pattern

In an eyetracking study, Jakob Nielsen found that users often scan content on web pages in an F-shaped pattern:
- First, people scan in a horizontal movement across the upper part of the content area
- Secondly, in a shorter horizontal movement further down the page
- Finally, in a vertical movement along the content's left side

According to Jakob Nielsen the F-pattern behaviour shows that:
- People don't read text thoroughly
- The most important information should be at the top
- Headings and paragraphs must start with information-carrying words that users will notice when they scan down the left side of the content


  • F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 19, 2006

Permanent link Comments (2)

See also: Text (24)  Eye-tracking (14) 


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