Monday, April 28, 2008

NN/g Group – Fundamentals Guidelines for Web Usability - My Notes

Web use

Goals for the web: Make it easy to use, enjoyable, and don’t make the design stand out

The web is improving, and the user is becoming more knowledgeable.
– Success rates on the web have improved (getting the task competed) – 70% from 60% in 1999

People are using search engines more often (Google is most popular)
– First action: 89% use a search engine
– 3.1 sties are visited per task

People don’t go to one website to get the answer (therefore locking them into your website isn’t a good tactic, but leading with links works)

Interior pages are increasing in importance, people are not always starting at the homepage (search engines lead them to interior pages)
– 25% of people visit the homepage of a site first
– 75% visit an interior page

Time on-site:
The length of time on the final page visited per task is 2 minutes 34 seconds
(1 min 42 sec on the previous sites)

Search Engine Results Page:
52% scroll the first search results page
5% view more than one page in the search results (people are more likely to conduct a new search than look at another results page)
47% choose the first result on the list (organic search – not paid)

Top ads perform better than right ad boxes (‘gaze time increases for the top ads’ – gaze time was testing using eye tracking)

People want CONTROL

People want to be in control, click and get what they expect

The search box = perceived control. Give the user enough space to type in their search (the length of searches/query strings are increasing – the average is 18 characters)

Marketing terms don’t help clarify
– Use key words – don’t be cute, the results page is the most important.

For example people were asked to learn how to tie a bowline knot, after searching ‘bowline knot’ many people avoiding clicking this link:

*Roper's Knot Pages - Single loops
The Bowline Knot is one of the most used loop knots. This variant is most used in the world. Probably due to its simplicity, security, and its relationship ...

*The word ‘Ropers’’ which doesn’t mean anything to them, but if they were to click, this page would have been a good resource)

Video: give the user the controls (stop, replay, play, rewind etc.) Don’t start playing a video without the user making the choice

Too much stuff – is off-putting. For example:

Don’t use rigid forms – do the work on the back-end (users will bail). Use vertical fields (not side by side)

Don’t impose JOY

You can’t impose joy (scary Avatar’s talking, video runs without choices, no control over the video). Make a clear option to skip video.

Provide opportunities for joy. Content is king – sometimes websites are cool because of the content

Make the links clear – for example (where are the links?)

People with ‘low vision’ will use screen magnifiers – this is like looking through a paper towel – if you use hover text or cascading menus they can’t read it

Changing backgrounds can be distracting

Good example: NASA website (people enjoy the content, video, contrast)

WebMD – recommendations for the next article lead people to information they didn’t know they needed – gives more opportunity to educate (see ‘hot topics’). Similar to You Tube, which gives new videos and helps people stay around

Don’t break the FLOW

Installing software interrupts the flow, opening new window’s interrupts flow – people use the back feature and feel lost,

Don’t have the user open a new window unless you want them to close it after completing a task

Too many choices, lowers satisfaction

Cascading menus is not a good idea (expand and collapse instead)

Save the user brain cells – predict the users next steps (give the user what they need when they need it)

Limiting clicks is less important than making each click productive

Give Signposts, Context & Feedback

The more links on a page = more likely that people will click the wrong link

People use bread crumbs (if you use them don’t let it drop –it’s a ‘signpost’)

Get feedback while waiting for something to load (don’t’ show the % progress – just a moving bar OR like

User shouldn’t have to guess ‘what’s clickable’ – make it consistent

Confirm events (give feedback)

Give the user what they expect

Focus on the user – not the organization (don’t use jargon) For example ‘current age’ is a common term for a retirement company – but it’s not common language for a user

World vision – the ‘gift catalog’ confuses users (they want to donate $, gifts seem like items to purchase)

Don’t use templates that create missing text

People don’t like to register – make the privacy policy clear and give them information first (don’t ask for registration before giving the user something)

People ignore the ads and internal promotion

User needs vary

PDF sucks (in all countries) and guidelines are the same in other countries

Don’t call things ‘tools’ – it sounds complicated, users why away from ‘tools’

Consider the complexity of the underlying business rules, which may increase the complexity of the design and have an impact on usability

People REBEL – make faces, write a bad review, leave the website, and don’t look

Forced registration – turns people off

People will look at promotions that fit the style of the site and avoid the ads

Banner blindness is learned

Myth: People over 65 are slow and methodical. Some people over 65 are impatient if asked to wait they keep clicking

When using blurred or big images – think about the real estate on the page, what do you want the image to convey (you I you are having trouble writing the alt-tag, re-think the purpose of the photo/image)

People are stingy with their $ and with looks and clicks

Stock art can be a problem and duplicated in many locations. The same ‘happy woman’ was used on three websites: TruboTax, Xdrive, and Pair Networks

Hot potatoes – look at an ad and look away quickly

Men and woman instinctively look at ‘parts’ (men more frequently than woman)

People don’t look at images that are too small or have low contrast – use simple/clear images

People look at faces – not as frequently look at people turned away (not facing the camera)

Credibility – what makes the site believable?
– Credibility is a feel, using a phone number and contact information helps create a physical presence, which helps
– Google gullibility – higher in search results (increases feeling of credibility)

People read in an “F” pattern
– Front load the content – put the main point first

Skipping vs. Scanning text
– People who read well can scan pages, slow readers skip full sections of content (low literacy will read every word, including privacy or ISI)
– Front load sentences – make link titles work without context (for scanning and reading with magnifiers)

People don’t scroll often – keep important info above the fold

NNg recommends writing at a 6th grade reading level

Scan-ability is improved by breaking up information into bulleted lists

Simple website example:
Another enjoyable site:
Bad website example: (especially considering the audience)

Time on site – increased time-on-site is not always a good measure (exhaustive review with no results, vs. interest in learning or the content) – this measure should be compared/contrasted with usability testing

Follow a convention for search (upper right or left corner) – it’s dangerous to have another box that looks like search but isn’t

Two types of consistency = between site and within site
– Remove the burden from the user – take away the brain power to physically operate the site
– Don’t change the navigation within a site

Allow your content to shine

Know when to innovate – are you ‘special’ enough (why doesn’t everyone do it that new way – that might be a stronger argument)
– Don’t be lazy - innovate on the back-end (hide great programming) like Google maps

Website design is like fashion – people that get exited are not everyday people – wait until after it’s fashionable, don’t be a slave to fashion or a groupie (for example don’t follow

Conclusions –

– Users vary in motivation – levels of engagement are divers
– Can not say ‘we want to show this cools stuff’ (Can’t impose joy or force joy by using aggressive video )
– Help – usually doesn’t
– Users fight back – inherently distrustful, don’t believe list is sorted by what’s best, don’t choose things that look like ads
– Linear information path (not literally linear) – give a recommended next step (this is pleasant and removes the burden from the user)
– Sign Post – tell users where they are (for example use bread crumbs)
– Help people focus on what they want
– Progressive disclosure – show a little then show more
– Meet expectations – don’t break the flow (plug ins or downloads)
– The web is a user-driven environment
– Don’t be too template driven, some things need to be presented in different ways
– Support the users task, details matter, problems accumulate, break flow and lessen the sites credibility
– Don’t let corporate structure shine through (your mental model vs. the customer) – usability testing removes the blindfold
– Registration should not be a barrier – people may rebel (Lead generation – you will get less leads if you ask too early)

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