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2-Day Usability Bootcamp with Christine Perfetti

We are organizing a 2-day usability bootcamp with Christine Perfetti. Here are the details.

Will your website or application be successful when it’s launched? Will people be able to use it easily? Will it meet the business objectives? Will you be able to account for the time, money and effort spent on it? To answer these questions, Perfetti Media’s expert usability professional, Christine Perfetti, has put together a 2-Day Usability Bootcamp to help you learn the skills needed to evaluate and improve your designs, be it for a product, website, web application or intranet.

Web customers crave speed, not emotional experiences

Gerry McGovern has a point here about web customers craving speed:

People don’t want experiences on websites. They don’t want to emotionally bond with a website. When was the last time you felt delighted after you booked a flight? Did you have a great experience booking that cinema ticket or did you have a great experience at the cinema?

25 User Experience Videos That Are Worth Your Time

Nice collection by Smashing Magazine.

“We’re all mostly accustomed to educating ourselves by reading articles. Rare are the opportunities to attend conferences or watch live shows on subjects that we’re interested in. That’s why we are presenting here phenomenal videos and related resources on the topic of user experience (UX) by different presenters at different events. We have focused on current content but have included some older videos that are still relevant. It will take you more than 16 hours to watch all of these videos. So, make some popcorn, turn off the lights and enjoy.”

Scrolling and attention

Big finding from Jakob Nielsen. Now clueless managers are going to sing this mantra and demand that everything be above the fold.

“Web users spend 80% of their time looking at information above the page fold. Although users do scroll, they allocate only 20% of their attention below the fold. “

Why Are Web Sites So Confusing?

Andrei Hagiu assistant professor in the Strategy unit at Harvard Business School tries to rationalize why websites are so confusing:

“Thus, consumers coming to the supermarket to buy daily staples (say, bread and milk) might be induced to also get expensive chocolate if they have to walk past the corresponding aisle anyway. Shoppers visiting a mall for its anchor store (say, Macy’s) may decide to stop by a small design store while walking around the mall. And while flipping through the pages of a magazine in search of the article promised on the cover, readers are exposed to advertising, which produces most of the revenues.”

“In the same way, Google faces a subtle issue in designing its search result pages: consumers are mostly interested in the “objective” (i.e., middle) search results, but all revenues come from the sponsored search ads on the right hand side. The result is a compromise between what users want and what produces more revenues. For any given search, the 11th objective search result might be more relevant than any of the sponsored search results displayed on the right; yet it will be displayed on the second search page only—well beyond the reach of most users.”

The Myth of Usability Testing

Robert Hoekman Jr. discusses the reliability of usability tests in the latest issue of A List Apart.

“Usability teams also have wildly differing experience levels, skill sets, degrees of talent, and knowledge, and although some research and testing methods have been homogenized to the point that anyone should be able to perform them proficiently, a team’s savvy (or lack thereof) can affect the results it gets. That almost anyone can perform a heuristic evaluation doesn’t mean the outcome will always be useful or even accurate. Heuristics are not a checklist, they are guidelines a usability evaluator can use as a baseline from which to apply her expertise. They are a beginning, not an end.”

A Look Behind The Curtain At YouTube’s User Experience Research

Jason Kincaid writes about how YouTube tries to constantly test out and understand how its users are using the website.

“To help gauge the Watch page’s ideal layout, YouTube invited in a number of users and gave them magnets that represented different elements from YouTube and other popular video sites. The results were not surprising, but they present an interesting challenge to YouTube: the vast majority of users chose to streamline their page as much as possible, featuring a large video player, a search box, and a strip of related videos. But the site’s heavy uploaders, who are obviously key to YouTube’s success, tended to favor a more complex site with a greater emphasis on analytics, sharing, and social interaction.

YouTube’s task is to figure out a way to appeal to both sets of users.”

Card Sorting: Pushing Users Beyond Terminology Matches

A very useful article by Jakob Nielsen. His main point in this article is that we need to be wary of how we present usability activities like card sorting to users. If we are not careful, we may be priming them towards an option rather than allowing them to think through the different options. Jakob Nielsen explains his theory by way of an card-sorting exercise. Go ahead and read it.

Internet banner ads ignored

A poll (PDF) by The Harris Poll shows that internet banner ads are ignored while internet search engine ads are not that bad. However, both these types of internet ads fall short of TV ads which are still preferred.

Over one-third of Americans (37%) say that television ads are most helpful in making their purchase decision while 17% say newspaper ads are most helpful and 14% say the same about Internet search engine ads. Radio ads (3%) and Internet banner ads (1%) are not considered helpful by many people. Over one-quarter of Americans (28%), however, say that none of these types of advertisements are helpful to them in the purchase decision making process.

Via Harvard Daily Stat

30 Examples of Attractive Nav

Web Designer Wall has put up a collection of appealing navigation systems:

"Web designers always have to strike a balance between usability and visual appeal when designing a website. Without this balance, a website might be nice to look at or difficult to navigate. Or, it might be easy to navigate, but not easy on the eyes. With this in mind, balancing attractive navigation with usability does not need to be overly difficult. To help you generate new ideas and inspiration for user navigation, here are 30 great examples of attractive and usable navigation."

Donation Usability: Increasing Online Giving to Non-Profits and Charities

Jakob Nielsen's new piece tackles donation usability. I'm not surprised at his findings. We found similar themes when we did the redesign for the National University of Singapore Giving website. We found that there was a need to inform donors on why their gifts were needed and how they will be used (the LEARN section). Also we found that there was a need to pay-back in kind by honouring donors (the HONOUR section). It goes without saying the the DONATE section had to be without flaws. So glad to know that the findings are similar across continents.

Usability testing on the cheap

A friend of mine asked me about doing usability testing on the cheap. Thought I'd share some apps and websites I have bookmarked.

Unfortunately the online testing services can't be used for testing intranets. And not many intranets support Macs or browsers other than IE. So that leaves one with the Classic approach -- 1 video camera 1 PC, and 1 extra LCD monitor. Yes, there is another tool, Morae, that can be used on Windows, but it's pricey.

Usability heuristics for web development teams

A Site Point article that makes the case for a more holistic approach to design heuristics:

If we consider the Information Architect (IA), the ‘JavaScripter’ and the web standards developer, each of these roles has a great deal they can contribute to creating a better, more holistic set of usability heuristics.

Corporate Usability Maturity: Stages 5-8

Jakob Nielsen on his stages of corporate usability. He also advises against the prospect of leapfrogging the stages:

"If your company is currently at a lower maturity level, it might be tempting to try to bootstrap the situation and move directly to one of the higher levels, asking everybody to do everything that's recommended in the full user-centered design process. If you do this, you're doomed. Too many simultaneous changes to an organism will give it a fever. People can't cope with the later stages’ concepts and requirements without time to adjust to the less drastic changes introduced at the earlier stages. A good metaphor is emerging from a deep dive: You can't go directly to the surface without getting the bends."

Corporate Usability Maturity: Stages 1-4

Jakob Nielsen writes about his 8 stages of usability practice in organizations. He details out stages 1-4 in this article:
  1. Hostility Toward Usability
  2. Developer-Centered Usability
  3. Skunkworks Usability
  4. Dedicated Usability Budget

I've found success by incorporating usability studies as part and parcel of an overall design plan, and by not harping on the fact with the management. In the end, getting management to see the benefits of the big picture is more important than getting them lost in the details of our practice.

Case Study: Intranets, Usability, and Value

Nice case-study approach by Jeffery Veen to solicit feedback on some real common intranet situations. I like this case-study approach; it provides more context to understand the 'noise' that Jeff is trying to get across.

What is usability?

An in-depth article about the role of usability in design. "There is some confusion about what usability is and whether businesses are 'doing usability' or not. There are many aspects to usability - more than just running a usability test at the end of a project. This article provides an overview of what usability is (and what it is not)."

It’s Not Just Usability

Very entertaining post by Joel Spolsky on the design of the social interface -- interfaces for social networking, e-mail, discussion boards, etc. "Whereas the goal of user interface design is to help the user succeed, the goal of social interface design is to help the society succeed, even if it means one user has to fail."

Usability News

The current edition of Usability News newsletter has some interesting articles. There was a study on the affect of different layouts on online reading. It was found that "the use of margins affected both reading speed and comprehension in that participants read the Margin text slower, but comprehended more than the No Margin text. Participants were also generally more satisfied with the text with margins. Leading was not shown to impact reading performance but did influence overall user preference.

Usability and listening to customers have limits

Gerry McGovern on balancing usability and real value : "Usability sometimes misses the point. If you

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