A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Nielsen Norman Group

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Arm-Wrestling the Photoshop Police

Adobe is shipping a 6.0 upgrade to Photoshop that, for many Mac users, proves unusable. We learned back in the 1980s that when you rake your legitimate users over the coals in the hopes of catching the occasional thief, you end up with a lot of really raked off users. Apparently, someone at Adobe has forgotten.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2001). Articles>User Interface>Software>Adobe Photoshop


Context-Specific Design in the Cross-Channel User Experience

Emphasize and leverage each channel’s unique strengths to create usable and helpful context-specific experiences.

Nielsen Norman Group (2014). Articles>Web Design>Writing>Responsive


Core Decisions

Many products are doomed to interaction failure before the design has even begun. Learn just how far your responsibilites as a designer extend.

Nielsen Norman Group (2003). Design>User Interface


Decision Making in the E-Commerce Shopping Cart: 4 Tips For Supporting Users

Many shoppers use the shopping cart to make final purchase decisions. Usable shopping carts provide product detail, allow access to product pages, and let users easily delete items.

Schade, Amy. Nielsen Norman Group (2014). Articles>Web Design>E Commerce>Usability


Designing for Different Types of E-Commerce Shoppers

There are 5 main types of e-commerce shoppers. Knowing the different motivations and habits people have when they come to a site helps designers make decisions that improve overall site usability while supporting different users’ needs.

Schade, Amy. Nielsen Norman Group (2014). Articles>Web Design>E Commerce>Usability


Ecommerce UX Trends: User Research Update

Our latest ecommerce research revealed user-experience improvements to shopping sites such as large product images, robust reviews, and easy discounts. New designs suffer from hidden product information, poor site feedback, and crowded customer-service areas.

Schade, Amy. Nielsen Norman Group (2014). Articles>Web Design>E Commerce>User Experience


Elephants in the Living Room: The Destructive Role of Denial in Web Design

Four of your fellow development team members, all trying to do their specific jobs to the best of their abilities, have the power to sink your best effort at interaction design. As an interaction designer, it is your job to see they don't do so. (If you are not an interaction designer, read on anyway; you may be surprised to learn that you may be part of the problem.)

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2000). Articles>Web Design>User Interface>Collaboration


First Principles

Principles fundamental to the design and implementation of effective interfaces, whether for traditional GUI environments or the web. Of late, many web applications have reflected a lack of understanding of many of these principles of design, to their great detriment. Because an application or service appears on the web, the principles do not change. If anything, applying these principles become even more important.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (1994). Articles>Usability>Assessment


Good Lawyers, Bad Products

Lawyers may know their way around a courtroom, but they have no business designing products. Too often, in their zealous pursuit of zero liability, they end up damaging products, alienating customers, destroying companies, and killing people. It's up to you to stop them.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2002). Design>User Interface>Legal


The High Price of Not Listening

Ever visited the website of a company with a glaring error either on the site or in their product, only to discover that they have successfully sealed themselves off from the world, so you can't report it? Sure you have, and it's not only causing you frustration, it's costing that company real money.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2004). Design>Web Design>User Centered Design>User Experience


How Programmers Stole the Web

In the late 1970s, a great flood of creative talent, drawn from the ranks of people who had never before touched a computer, took to the keyboards of the early microcomputers and started a revolution. The early programming environments and languages were simple, natural, and accessible. Within five years, that group had been disenfranchised by the advent of 'serious' computing environments, such as Pascal and C, and software settled back down to being the business of professionals. With the advent of the web, another even greater flood of talent was unleashed, but this time the end came sooner. Within two years, the originally simple HTML environment had become clouded with hacks on top of hacks, as the C++ boys moved in and took over. The new talent could only continue to produce pretty pictures, while the traditional priesthood again took up the real work of programming. The web has stagnated ever since.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2000). Design>Web Design>History


How to Publish a Great User Manual

When was the last time you curled up in bed with a really good user-manual just for the sheer joy of reading it? Never? Think that is some immutable law of nature, like the one that dictates all textbooks must be dull as dirt? 'Tain't so, McGee.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (1998). Articles>Documentation


How to Write a Report Without Getting Lynched

You put forth your best effort to explain to the stupid sods exactly how and where they screwed up, then they have the temerity to not appreciate your fine efforts. Here's how to write a report that will cause change, instead of uproar.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2001). Articles>Usability>Reports>Technical Writing


If They Don't Test, Don't Hire Them

The single best indicator as to the overall competence of an interaction design team is their plan for user testing. If you are presented with no plan or a sort of vague 'and we'll eventually do some user testing,' you may want to back off and look at other resources. If, on the other hand, you are given a proposal outlining repeated design and test cycles, you are dealing with people who know exactly what they are doing.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2000). Articles>Project Management>Usability


Inclusive Design, Part 1

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be disabled? Well, you better start thinking about it! As my collegue Gregg Vanderheiden is fond of pointing out, 'We all will have disabilities eventually, unless we die first.'

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2009). Articles>Accessibility>Usability>Universal Usability


Inclusive Design, Part 2

Accessibility is not something to be left to specialists hired to clean up our mess at the end. It should be a priority of the entire development team from the beginning. Yes, companies should definitely have accessibility people on-board, but they should act as much as educators and coaches as designers. Everyone on the development team must be aware of and responsive to the full spectrum of identified users if your product is to sell to the widest possible audience. That’s the only way to achieve inclusive design.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2009). Articles>Accessibility>Usability>Universal Usability


Infinite Scrolling is Not for Every Website

Endless scrolling saves people from having to attend to the mechanics of pagination in browsing tasks, but is not a good choice for websites that support goal-oriented finding tasks.

Loranger, Hoa. Nielsen Norman Group (2014). Articles>Web Design>Information Design>Usability


Is the Internet Really Collapsing?

The sky is falling. It has been falling for about a year now, and it feels like it won’t stop falling until every business associated with the Internet is dead, dead, dead.  What is happening now happens with every new explosion of technology. When the sky has finished falling, it will leave behind an industry with far fewer, but much healthier players. And then things will get better than they ever were.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2001). Careers>Web Design>User Interface


Is the Slowing Economy Helping or Hurting Usability?

Seattle attendees felt the slowing economy would underscore the importance of usability practices. They don't see the slow-down in retail sales negatively affecting the usability field: 'In terms of usability, the focus will be the same...If we had to cut something, it wouldn't be usability.' While the slowing economy will force some companies to implement cutbacks and downsize, they believe that it will also show companies that they need usability in order to remain competitive.

Loranger, Hoa. Nielsen Norman Group (2001). Articles>Usability


M-Commerce: Terrible UX (at least for Christmas 2014 sales)

Traffic and sales data collected by IBM show that e-commerce sites had 288% higher conversion rates on desktop than on smartphones during Christmas 2014.

Nielsen, Jakob. Nielsen Norman Group (2014). Articles>Web Design>E Commerce>Mobile


Manufacturer Sites that Sell

The job of a retail site is to attract the consumer, sell the product, and deliver it. In the case of a manufacturer site, the only difference when encountering a retail customer is that, instead of delivering the product, the site may deliver the customer—to an authorized retailer.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2007). Articles>Web Design>E Commerce>Usability


Maps and Location Finders on Mobile Devices

Maps of business locations may be more visually appealing than a simple list view, but they introduce too many usability issues on mobile devices.

Bedford, Aurora. Nielsen Norman Group (2014). Articles>Web Design>Geography>Mobile


Mobile Navigation: Image Grids or Text Lists?

For mobile navigation, image grids should be saved for deeper IA levels where visual differentiation between menu items is critical, as they increase page load times, create longer pages, and cause more scrolling.

Bedford, Aurora. Nielsen Norman Group (2014). Articles>Web Design>Information Design>Mobile


Panic! How it Works and What To Do About It

When we create technologies that are extremely complex and do not provide comprehensive feedback for each and every possible error, such as a seat belt left unbuckled, people have a tendency to drive their aircraft into garden parties. When we create technologies where similar actions produce dissimilar results, such as placing a brake and accelerator pedal side-by-side, to be actuated in the identical manner by the identical limb, people will periodically die.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2004). Design>User Interface>User Centered Design>Emotions


Panther: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

For a long time, people have been writing me, asking that I do an in depth review of OS X. I held off because I really didn't think OS X was ready for prime time. That's all changed. OS X, in the form of the Panther release, is more than ready.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2004). Articles>User Interface>Operating Systems>Macintosh



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