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1.
#37049

The $300 Million Button

It's hard to imagine a form that could be simpler: two fields, two buttons, and one link. Yet, it turns out this form was preventing customers from purchasing products from a major e-commerce site, to the tune of $300,000,000 a year. What was even worse: the designers of the site had no clue there was even a problem.

Spool, Jared M. User Interface Engineering (2009). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Forms

2.
#33458

About Us Information on Websites

We found a 9% improvement in the usability of About Us information on websites over the past 5 years. But companies and organizations still can't explain what they do in one paragraph.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2008). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Writing

3.
#20624

"About Us" -- Presenting Information About an Organization on Its Website

Study participants searched websites for background information ranging from company history to management biographies and contact details. Their success rate was 70%, leaving much room for usability improvements in the 'About Us' designs.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2003). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Writing

4.
#19263

Accessibility Meets Usability: A Plea for a Paramount and Concurrent User-Centered Design Approach to Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility for All   (PDF)

This paper identifies challenges for a user–centered design process with respect to infusing accessible design practices into electronic and information technology product development. Initially, it emphasizes that when user–centered design is paramount and concurrent with accessible design, electronic and information technology can be accessible for all. Next, it provides an overview of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Section 508. Last, it provides basic accessible design heuristics that can be integrated into the design process. It concludes with recommendations for a paramount and concurrent user–centered design approach to product development.

Reece, Gloria A. STC Proceedings (2002). Articles>User Centered Design>Accessibility>Usability

5.
#33131

Accessible Forms

This document is concerned with what the user of a Website form "sees" and interacts with. It outlines how you can create forms for the Web that are more accessible and describes the appropriate use of.

Hudson, William. Webusability (2004). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Forms

6.
#24578

Afraid So: Horrible Web Monstrosities

Here they come. Nightmare web sites that, from a usability perspective, are horrid monsters. When you're tired and in a hurry, you want a web site to quickly and easily provide relevant content to you, so you can solve a problem or perform some task. Discover common hideous impediments to web usability. WARNING: Not for the faint hearted!

Streight, Steven. Blogger.com (2004). Articles>Web Design>Usability>User Centered Design

7.
#13658

The Age of Information Architecture

For the most part, information architects are communicators and strategists. While others merely tolerated the mishmash of responsibilities, they relished it. Designers often put up with having to write HTML but jumped at the chance to 'just do design.' Programmers were forced to meet with clients and work on strategy, but all along probably wanted to just write code. When these two ends of the spectrum split off, the empty middle was a perfect place to be. At the same time, there was an increased (but still hidden) need for information architecture. As the average web project process matured, more problems arose. Formal documentation was needed, business objectives were taking on increased importance, and, as the size increased exponentially, information organization became a much more important role. (The fact that this evolution took place during the 'dot.com fallout' is not insignificant, as this led to the placement of web projects under the same microscope as other business endeavors.) Some of these positions could be filled by existing disciplines; project managers, business analysts, and usability specialists transitioned from 'traditional' work and were added to web teams. Still, there was something missing. The connection between 'the big picture' (business strategy, high-level user tasks, basic structural architecture) and the nitty-gritty (categorization, labeling, bottom-up information hierarchies) often wasn't being made. This is where information architects fit in.

Lash, Jeff. Digital Web Magazine (2002). Articles>Information Design>Usability

8.
#20179

Alertbox #200

Jakob Nielsen has published 200 Alertbox columns on the Web since 1995; in addition to promoting usability, the column's readership statistics validate the practice of archiving content.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2003). Articles>Usability>Web Design

9.
#35397

(Almost) Never Add a Reset Button to a Form

Next time you consider adding a reset button to a form, think it through very carefully first. Does the user really benefit from being able to reset the form? Is being able to reset the form to its initial state so valuable that it is worth the risk of the user losing the data they have entered? Probably not.

456 Berea Street (2009). Articles>Web Design>Forms>Usability

10.
#37627

Alphabetical Sorting Must (Mostly) Die

Ordinal sequences, logical structuring, time lines, or prioritization by importance or frequency are usually better than A–Z listings for presenting options to users.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2010). Articles>Information Design>Web Design>Usability

11.
#24524

Altruistic vs. Narcissistic Web Sites

Users are repulsed by web sites that are narcissistic, egotistic, corporate-speak, hard to understand, and difficult to use. Users are attracted to and enjoy web sites that are altruistic, user-prioritized, user-focused, easy to understand, easy to use, and full of fresh, relevant content.

Streight, Steven. Blogger.com (2004). Articles>Web Design>User Centered Design>Usability

12.
#33354

Apples and Oranges

Usability and design are two fields that collide more often than not. But why is that? Why can’t we all just get along and center our efforts around delivering a better product, a top-notch Web site or a user-friendly interface. Everybody would benefit from an open-minded, reciprocal understanding. Right?

Hilhorst, Didier P. Digital Web Magazine (2004). Articles>Usability>Design>Collaboration

13.
#36193

Are Your Online Forms User-Friendly?

A poorly designed form always reduces your chances for getting a sale or gaining a qualified lead. This article discusses the merits of a good form and the pitfalls of bad forms. It offers advice and tips on how to increase your success rates by making your forms more user friendly.

Raspberry Frog (2007). Articles>Web Design>Usability

14.
#14191

The Art of Being Human

Site visitors crave the sense that someone is there, within and behind your Web pages, your emails and newsletters. Dealing with the bare technology of online interactions is a cold experience for many, or even most of us. It makes us feel anxious. Technology isn't warm. It has no heart. It neither understands us, nor cares for us. For many Web sites, whether for businesses or organizations, we simply plug in and play the bare technology - the super-duper means of information delivery. All the site visitor sees and feels is the design, the interface, the links and the clicks. The experience is about as warm and human as banking with an ATM machine.

Spool, Jared M. User Interface Engineering (2002). Articles>Web Design>User Centered Design>Usability

15.
#19368

As Simple As Possible

The virtues of simplicity are well-known among experienced systems designers. And many of the things that are 'right' with simpler software systems are also applicable to Web pages and site designs.

Sullivan, Terry. All Things Web (1996). Articles>Usability>Web Design

16.
#33230

As the Page Scrolls

Users say they don’t like to scroll. As a result, many designers try to keep their web pages short. But one of the most significant findings of our research on web-site usability is that users are perfectly willing to scroll. However, they’ll only do it if the page gives them strong clues that scrolling will help them find what they’re looking for.

Spool, Jared M. User Interface Engineering (1998). Articles>Web Design>Usability

17.
#37306

Asking Your Users, Part 1

We tech writers need to know what our readers need. One of the simplest ways to find out is to just ask the users. However, the most obvious questions aren’t necessarily the best ones. Today, I look at some questions that don’t work as well as you might think.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2010). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Interviewing

18.
#37307

Asking Your Users, Part 2

To get the most out of a user survey, make sure your users can give you answers which are measurable and actionable. This is, in my experience, the key to a good user survey.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2010). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Surveys

19.
#33455

Aspects of Design Quality

Usability scores for 51 websites show some correlation between navigation, content, and feature quality, but no connections to other usability areas.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2008). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Case Studies

20.
#14994

Assessing Web Site Usability from Server Log Files   (PDF)

White paper on how to glean usability data from web server log files and how to use that data.

Tec-Ed, Inc. (1999). Articles>Web Design>Usability

21.
#37943

Assume an Amorphous User

There are a couple of models that can guide us in dealing with negative scenarios—meaning scenarios that deviate from the happy path and result in user failure. One model, negative scenario testing, comes from quality assurance; the other, negative case analysis, from qualitative research.

Hughes, Michael A. UXmatters (2011). Articles>Usability>User Centered Design>Personas

22.
#30873

Avi Parush

Few usability professionals are as well-rounded as Avi Parush. Avi has worked in industry and academia, testing and design, the Old World and the New, with web applications and airplane cockpits, in operating rooms and on the bridges of ships.

Anderson, Clifford. Usability Professionals Association (2008). Articles>Interviews>Web Design>Usability

23.
#21012

Avoiding Bias from the Survivor Effect

Only a few of the survey sites we analyzed in 2000 are still around. We can safely assume that the surviving sites are not a random sample of the original group, but rather that significant differences exist between the sites that made it and those that died. Survival might be due partly to luck, but it is mainly a result of good management and an understanding of Internet fundamentals. Thus, the surviving sites are likely to be disproportionately clued-in about what it takes to run an online business.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2002). Articles>Usability>Methods>Web Design

24.
#34463

Back To Basics: How Poor Usability Effects Accessibility

In recent user testing with a range of participants including Visually Impaired (VIP) and Blind users we found that the majority of problems were common across all groups. However the effect of poor usability is more severe for users with visual disabilities. Surprisingly all of the issues are very familiar and are easy to fix so we thought we’d revisit some of the basics of accessible web design.

Frontend Infocentre (2009). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Usability

25.
#36414

A Basic Usability Test on Ten Phones

B. is an old friend of mine who owns an old Nokia. And when I say old, I mean really old. It was released somewhere in 2000 or so (the Nokia, not the friendship). It’s not a smartphone, to put it mildly, and B. does not use the mobile Web.

Quirks Mode (2010). Articles>Web Design>Mobile>Usability

 
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