Topic: Web Usability

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  • Alertbox #200

    September 29, 2003

    I've published 200 Alertbox columns on the Web since 1995; in addition to achieving key victories over multi-million-dollar special interests and enemies of usability, the column's readership statistics validate the practice of archiving content.

    Misconceptions About Usability

    September 8, 2003

    Misconceptions about usability's expense, the time it involves, and its creative impact prevent companies from getting crucial user data, as does the erroneous belief that existing customer-feedback methods are a valid driver for interface design.

    PDF: Unfit for Human Consumption

    July 14, 2003

    Users get lost inside PDF files, which are typically big, linear text blobs that are optimized for print and unpleasant to read and navigate online. PDF is good for printing, but that's it. Don't use it for online presentation.

    Making Web Advertisements Work

    May 5, 2003

    Web users are highly goal-driven, and ads that interfere with their goals will be ignored. To succeed, ads must work with the medium, as well as with the user's aims and mindset.

    Will Plain-Text Ads Continue to Rule?

    April 28, 2003

    Text-only advertisements work far better than banners, but is this only due to their novelty? Search engine text ads will retain their superiority over time, but text ads on other sites will work only if they focus on directly meeting users' needs.

    Recommended Other Websites

    January 1, 2003

    Jakob Nielsen's recommended hotlist of links to online columns, articles, and other websites about Web design, usability, and user interfaces.

    Top 10 Web Design Mistakes of 2002

    December 23, 2002

    Every year brings new mistakes. In 2002, several of the worst mistakes in Web design related to poor email integration. The number one mistake, however, was lack of pricing information, followed by overly literal search engines.

    Ephemeral Web-Based Applications

    November 25, 2002

    Usability tests of 46 Flash applications identified basic issues related to the ephemeral nature of Web-embedded apps. Some findings restate old truths about GUIs; others reflect the Net's new status as nexus of the user experience.

    Making Flash Usable for Users With Disabilities

    October 14, 2002

    Flash designs are easier for users with disabilities to use when designers combine visual and textual presentations, minimize incessant movement, decrease spacing between related objects, and simplify features.

    Let Users Control Font Size

    August 19, 2002

    Tiny text tyrannizes users by dramatically reducing task throughput. IE4 had a great UI that let users easily change font sizes; let's get this design back in the next generation of browsers.

    Improving Usability Guideline Compliance

    June 24, 2002

    Over the last 1.5 years, the average compliance with established usability guidelines increased by 4%. If we can sustain this level of improvement, we'll reach the ideal of 90% guideline compliance in 2017.

    Top 10 Guidelines for Homepage Usability

    May 12, 2002

    A company's homepage is its face to the world and the starting point for most user visits. Improving your homepage multiplies the entire website's business value, so following key guidelines for homepage usability is well worth the investment.

    Site Map Usability, 1st study

    January 6, 2002

    Most site maps fail to convey multiple levels of the site's information architecture. In usability tests, users often overlook site maps or can't find them. Complexity is also a problem: a map should be a map, not a navigational challenge of its own.

    Beyond Accessibility: Treating Users with Disabilities as People

    November 11, 2001

    With current Web design practices, users without disabilities experience three times higher usability than users who are blind or have low vision. Usability guidelines can substantially improve the matter by making websites and intranets support task performance for users with disabilities.

    113 Design Guidelines for Homepage Usability

    October 31, 2001

    These design guidelines are excerpted from our book Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed which contains more details, including copiously annotated screenshots of 50 homepages.

    Tagline Blues: What's the Site About?

    July 22, 2001

    A website's tagline must explain what the company does and what makes it unique among competitors. Two questions can help you assess your own tagline: Would it work just as well for competitors? Would any company ever claim the opposite?

    Helping Users Find Physical Locations

    July 8, 2001

    When we asked users to find a nearby store, office, dealership, or other outlet based on information provided at a parent company's website, users succeeded only 63% of the time. On average, the 10 sites we studied complied with less than half of our 21 usability guidelines for locator design.

    Avoid PDF for On-Screen Reading

    June 10, 2001

    Forcing users to browse PDF files makes usability approximately 300% worse compared to HTML pages. Only use PDF for documents that users are likely to print. In those cases, following six basic guidelines will minimize usability problems.

    Flash: 99% Bad

    October 29, 2000

    Flash reduces usability for three reasons: it makes bad design more likely, it breaks the Web's fundamental interaction style, and it consumes resources that would be better spent enhancing a site's core value.

    End of Web Design

    July 23, 2000

    Websites have to reduce their differences and allow advanced features to either become standard across sites or be extracted from the sites altogether and placed in the browser. Focus on services and content; use a standard design.

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