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Topic: Web Usability

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  • 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.

    Alertbox 5 Years Retrospective

    May 28, 2000

    Since 1995, the readership of the Alertbox has grown by 4,800%. Most of the 105 old usability columns remain valid to this day since people change more slowly than the technology. But the Alertbox has encountered some setbacks as well.

    Finally Progress in Internet Client Design

    April 30, 2000

    Napster, IE 5 for the Mac, and Yahoo FinanceVision introduce specialized Internet UIs beyond the standard page viewing that had been unchanged since Mosaic.

    Reset and Cancel Buttons

    April 16, 2000

    Most Web forms would have improved usability if the Reset button was removed. Cancel buttons are also often of little value on the Web.

    Predictions for the Web in Year 2000

    December 26, 1999

    Micropayments will start with value-added content; mobile access; advice and sales become unbundled and physical experience environments may launch.

    10 Good Deeds in Web Design

    October 3, 1999

    Ten design elements that would increase the usability of virtually all websites if only they were employed more widely.

    User-Supportive Internet Architecture

    September 19, 1999

    The basic ideology of the Internet is bit transport; we need a utility-focused human-centered ideology for its fundamental architecture and protocols.

    Metcalfe's Law in Reverse

    July 25, 1999

    Partitioning the Web into N unlinked or otherwise isolated parts will reduce its overall value by a factor of N. A proprietary AOL instant messaging system will be worth only 4% of the full potential, and 1/3 will be completely lost.

    URL as UI

    March 21, 1999

    Users continue to type and guess URLs and domain names, so Web usability can be improved by better URLs. In the long term this machine-level addressing scheme must be hidden.

    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.

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