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Current issue

Navigation blindness

How to deal with the fact that people tend to ignore navigation tools

Most web development projects put a lot of effort into the design of navigation tools. But fact is that people tend to ignore these tools. They are fixated on getting what they came for and simply click on links or hit the back button to get there.

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Past issues

Server side usability

ISSUE 11 - JULY 2004
GoLive - the interaction designer's hammer and nail

ISSUE 10 - APRIL 2004
Use Cases and interaction design

Accessibility humanized

Balancing visual and structural complexity in interaction design

ISSUE 07 - JULY 2003
Personas and the customer decision-making process

ISSUE 06 - APRIL 2003
Supporting customers' decision-making process

Business-centred design

InfoRomanticism on the Internet

ISSUE 03 - JULY 2002
Results from a survey of web prototyping tools usage
Visio - the interaction designer's nail gun

ISSUE 02 - APRIL 2002
The Bottom-line of Prototyping and Usability Testing

Competitive Usability

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Latest postings

Cases and Examples

How to use eye-tracking for website redesigns

This case study by Eyetools demonstrates how eye-tracking analysis can be used for guiding a redesign of a website. The before and after heat maps reveal significant improvements to users attention to content and navigation on a home page.


Henrik Olsen - March 24, 2005

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Tips and Guidelines

30% of web users have low literacy

According to Jakob Nielsen 30% of web users have low literacy and the number will probably grow to 40% in the next five years.

Unlike higher-literacy users, lower-literacy users don't scan text. They can't understand a text by glancing at it and must carefully read word for word. Scrolling breaks their visual concentration and they start skipping text as soon as it becomes too dense.

Some recommendations:
- Use text aimed at a 6th grade reading level on important landing pages
- On other pages use an 8th grade reading level
- Place main points at the top of the pages
- Make search tolerant of misspellings
- Simplify navigation
- Streamline the page design
- Avoid text that moves or changes

A study showed that revising the text of a web site for lower-literacy users made it perform significant better for both lower- and higher-literacy users.


  • The article Lower-Literacy Users

Henrik Olsen - March 17, 2005

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Methods and the Design Process

Introduction to Use Case diagramming

Norm Carr and Tim Meehan have written two nice articles on Use Case diagramming. According to the two authors, Use Cases provide a simple and fast means to decide, specify, and communicate the purpose of a project. Use cases are visual maps of all agreed-upon functionality and can be a powerful tool for controlling the scope of the project.


  • The article Use Cases Part II: Taming Scope
  • The article What's the Problem?

Henrik Olsen - March 08, 2005

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Research and Statistics

Sitemap design - alphabetical or categorical?

In this study from 1999 SURL compared search performance with three types of sitemap designs:
1. Alphabetized sitemap
2. Full categorical sitemap
3. Restricted categorical sitemap, where the links of only one category is visible at the time

- Categorical sitemaps had significantly higher numbers of successful searches
- Users were significantly more satisfied with the categorical sitemaps
- The full categorical sitemap was the most preferred

The participants found that it was difficult to find information in alphabetized sitemaps because they had to guess how the links are worded. They also said that the full sitemap design was preferred to the restricted because it was easier to compare information between the categories.


  • The article Sitemap Design: Alphabetical or Categorical?

Henrik Olsen - March 06, 2005

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Research and Statistics

Eye-tracking study of e-commerce sites

Eyetools Inc and MarketingSherpa have published the report "The Landing Page Handbook". The report describes the results of an eye-tracking study of typical e-commerce sites and has design guidelines for improving web page layout.

Some highlights from the report:
- The upper-left corner is always seen
- Most web pages are scanned, not read
- Any text that is underlined or blue get high readership and many people will read only the emphasized text before deciding to read on
- Material underneath images is viewed quite often
- People experience such a strong pull to look at images that they can trump left-to-right reading
- Navigational links or bottoms usually distract visitors from the main purpose of the page


  • The article Are Your Visitors Seeing What You Think?
  • Buy the Landing Page Handbook

Henrik Olsen - March 03, 2005

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