Articles

Topic: User Behavior

User Skills Improving, But Only Slightly

February 4, 2008

Users now do basic operations with confidence and perform with skill on sites they use often. But when users try new sites, well-known usability problems still cause failures.

Life-Long Computer Skills

February 26, 2007

Schools should teach deep, strategic computer insights that can't be learned from reading a manual.

Digital Divide: The 3 Stages

November 20, 2006

The economic divide is a non-issue, but the usability and empowerment divides alienate huge population groups who miss out on the Internet's potential.

Variability in User Performance

May 15, 2006

When doing website tasks, the slowest 25% of users take 2.4 times as long as the fastest 25% of users. This difference is much higher than for other types of computer use; only programming shows a greater disparity.

Outliers and Luck in User Performance

March 6, 2006

6% of task attempts are extremely slow and constitute outliers in measured user performance. These sad incidents are caused by bad luck that designers can - and should - eradicate.

Users Interleave Sites and Genres

February 6, 2006

When working on business problems, users flitter among sites, alternating visits to different service genres. No single website defines the user experience on its own.

Talking-Head Video Is Boring Online

December 5, 2005

Eyetracking data show that users are easily distracted when watching video on websites, especially when the video shows a talking head and is optimized for broadcast rather than online viewing.

Durability of Usability Guidelines

January 17, 2005

About 90% of usability guidelines from 1986 are still valid, though several guidelines are less important because they relate to design elements that are rarely used today.

Are Users Stupid?

February 4, 2001

Opponents of the usability movement claim that it focuses on stupid users and that most users can easily overcome complexity. In reality, even smart users prefer pursuing their own goals to navigating idiosyncratic designs. As Web use grows, the price of ignoring usability will only increase.

Content Creation by Average People

October 1, 2000

To take the Internet to the next level, users must begin posting their own material rather than simply consuming content or distributing copyrighted material. Unfortunately most people are poor writers and even worse at authoring other media. Solutions include structured creation, selection-based media, and teaching content creation in schools.

Does the Internet Make Us Lonely?

February 20, 2000

Studies of the social impact of the Internet must consider the changing lifestyle of the new economy and not relate solely to industrial-age concepts.

Novice vs. Expert Users

February 6, 2000

Web usability has focused on ease of learning for the new visitor. While learnability remains important, it is time to also consider expert performance.

Web Research: Believe the Data

July 11, 1999

Much is known about Web user behavior, yet research findings are often ignored in actual projects. Examples: up-front customer registration doesn't work; frequency of use and effectiveness of Web marketing methods are negatively correlated.

Why People Shop on the Web

February 7, 1999

A survey of 1,780 people who have bought something on the Web found that convenience and ease of use are the main reasons to shop on the Web. Non-buying visits (product research) are important to shoppers.

Paradox of the Active User

October 4, 1998

Users never read manuals but start using the software immediately. They are motivated to get started and to get their immediate task done: they don't care about the system as such and don't want to spend time up front on getting established, set up, or going through learning packages.

The Increasing Conservatism of Web Users

March 22, 1998

Users demand compliance with established design conventions. No site can stand out any more; all are part of a single interwoven user experience; the Web as a whole dictates design

Why Advertising Doesn't Work on the Web

September 1, 1997

The Web is a cognitive medium; the user owns the navigation and won't wait for emotional brand messages. Product sites and classifieds have value, but most ads get puny click-through and few customers.

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