Jakob Nielsen outlines in his latest alertbox newsletter (http://www.useit.com/alertbox/search-skills.html) the inability of users to search effectively.
My colleague Neal Dinoff, Esri Usability Lab Manager, summarized the article and outlined Jakob Nielsen's core findings:
- People (even highly educated people) have remarkably poor search skills.
- Once they head down a keyword path, no matter how fruitless, they seldom change their search strategy
- Users will enter search terms into any open text field with no understanding of whether they are searching the whole site, the World Wide Web, or only a discreet section of the site.
- Users are overconfident in the reliability of results.
- Almost no one uses Advanced Search. When they do, they use it incorrectly.
Neal continues to conclude lessons for our search design:
- Don't assume that advanced search will help your website; you might build such features, but people will use them only in exceptional cases.
- Spend the vast majority of your resources on improving regular search (simple search).
- Design for the way the world is, not the way we wish it were. This means accepting search dominance, and trying to help users with poor research skills.
I believe more implications can be deducted:
- Curate (make sense of) content (!!!):
- Aggregate (most relevant in one location)
- Distill (more simplistic)
- Elevate (identify and describe trends/insights)
- Mashup (create new points of view based on multiple sources)
- Every page is a potential landing page, so help user to:
- Locate themselves (titles)
- Provide context (the bigger picture)
- Find the content/functions they were originally looking for
- Navigate further (well thought-through navigation architecture + good links + meaningful footer links)
- Create pages so that they can be found through:
- Search Engine Optimization (metatags, headings, etc.)
- Write in the language of your users, that’s how they will search
What are your Experiences?
- Observations versus Recommendations (by Harry Brignull) - use the FOG method, mark your statements Fact, Opinion or Guess
- Top 10 Free Source Code Editors – Reviewed (by hongkiat) - a listing of 11 free editors with their Pros and Cons
- How to Spot and Avoid Web Copy that Kills Websites (by Rick Sloboda) - here some downfalls of the often overlooked but actually really important subject of copy on the web
- Login / Registration Form: Ideas and Beautiful Examples (by bellefoong) - a little login inspiration, nice collection
- Progressive Disclosure in User Interfaces (by Alexander Dawson) - nice intro plus advantages and disadvantages
- The 5 Models Of Content Curation (by Rohit Bhargava) - content curation in its various situations explained
- 9 Ways To A Better Interview (by Mitch Joel) - in my opinion it boils down to caring about the other person and the subject and not getting hung up on standard questions and a script
- Tips for Creating an Excellent E-Commerce Website (by Mathew Carpenter) - some interesting tips here
"Esri Redistricting is a Web-based solution for state and local governments, legislators, and advocacy groups to create political and geographic redistricting plans." The app is hosted by Esri and delivered as software-as-a-service through annual subscriptions (30 days free trial available).
Mockups in MS PowerPoint
First of all I want to mention that the project became a success only for the dedicated and hard work of so many talented people, my part was really only the literal drop on a hot stone.
Very early on I had the feeling that this project would benefit from higher graphical fidelity (maps, charts, colors were important) so I decided to use Microsoft PowerPoint to communicate the designs. Using my wireframe stencils to draw the UI elements we iterated through multiple versions and approaches.
Main Lesson: Use slide master layout as background
My biggest lesson was the need to create a new layout to the Slide Master which would serve as the background. This layout included the banner (logo, user information), the menu (ribbon) and the map area.
- Changes propagated to all slides (e.g. modify a label)
- Easy manipulation of elements on top of static background
- Remove source of errors (forgot to update a slide)
- Cleaner in general
I find the following list really helpful when planning and conducting user testing. I collect and refine it constantly and would greatly appreciate any comments or additions I have missed (and I'm sure I did).
- setup web meeting
- tell secretary to not delete account and associated recordings
- test connection, equipment and recording capabilities
- setup schedule for participants
- send connection info to stakeholders
- remind everybody to mute their phones (or whatever else is necessary)
- prepare necessary data and files
- hide windows toolbar
- close mail program
- enable full screen for all users
- show host cursors to all attendees
- allow access to observers
- share desktop
- clear user generated content from previous user
- reset application
- remove cookies
- start blank application (if that's part of the test)
- take a break/breather for yourself
- prepare your personal notes taking material
- get acquainted with name and capabilities of next participant
- provide water for participant
- start recording
- greet participant and get going
- clarify time line for test results (findings & analysis)
- send thank you emails to participants
I think she has a valid point here... But just to make sure I ask the audience...
Which one is your answer? Why?
Pardon the off-topic, can't stop laughing.
It depends. But mostly bad
John Colby's from Birmingham City University arguments on why pop-ups are bad:
- Because people are warned about them (http://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/guides/about-popups)
- Because of their association with scams, viruses, malware, sites using popups are 'less trustworthy'
- Users with sight or cognitive problems (http://soap.stanford.edu/show.php?contentid=47)
- (And personally) if they insist on using popups I'll go away.
Richard from Userite remembers us that:
with Charles McCathieNevile from Opera adding:
...that many users have pop-ups blocked by default now, so won't actually see it even if they are not blind.
Harry Loots of the IEEE has a point when he says:
If it will supply useful information to the user, then don't kick against it, but make sure that the feedback / information so provided is accessible. For example, if the pop-up is used to confirm the product has been added and the user's browser does not support scripting/popups, a physical line of text may be displayed to confirm the product has been added (which can be hidden in the view seen by users who get the popup)
When a client asks for a specific design element, one needs to wonder where this need came from in the first place.
In the case that the client is not satisfied with visibility of system status. Try
- Improving titles and labels
- Adding non-obstructive instructions
- Providing feedback in an alternative way (as Harry pointed out), additional confirmation page always helps
- Keeping elements and its status (e.g. shopping cart belongs to the top right corner) in its user-anticipated location
- Using visual cues to show what just happened
Jennison Mark Asuncion just posted 4 upcoming accessibility events in North America:
- Ottawa's First Accessibility Unconference, May 6 in Ottawa Ontario (free event) register now at http://www.a11yyow.ca
- John Slatin AccessU 2011, May 17-19, Austin TX http://www.knowbility.org/v/accessu-detail/John-Slatin-AccessU/39/
- Accessibility Camp Seattle, May 20-21 (free event) register now at http://www.AccessibilityCampSeattle.org
- The Guelph Accessibility Conference, May 31-June 1, Guelph ON http://www.accessconf.open.uoguelph.ca/
Missed one? Post it in the comments section.
- Using Lies in Research (by Nate Bolt) - learn from their mistakes to prevent your own
- The Dangers of Design by User (by Demetrius Madrigal and Bryan McClain) - this article shows that the phrase "some research is better than none" doesn't always apply.
- What’s New for Web Designers – Mar 2011 (by Cameron Chapman) - as always a great round-up of new apps for designers.
- User Interface Patterns for Dealing with Interactive Content (by Cameron Chapman) - Cameron is on a roll - another must-read.
- Using Regular Expression: Tools and Resources (by hongkiat) - one must love this little helpers...
- 16 Essential WordPress Plugins Every Blog Must Have (by Karol K.) - more work ahead of me; thx for this compilation Karol.
Here a list of interesting User Experience/Usability Conferences in 2011 (thanks to Sooria for sharing):
- CHI: http://chi2011.org/
- Nielsen Norman: http://www.nngroup.com/
- UIE: http://uiconf.com
- IXDA: http://www.ixda.org/conference
- IA Summit: http://2011.iasummit.org/
- HFES: http://www.hfes.org/web/HFESMeetings/2011annualmeeting.html
- Web 2.0: http://www.web2expo.com/
- Web App Masters Tour: http://www.uie.com/events/web_app_masters/2011/
Do you have any past experiences you'd like to share? Did I miss one? Tell me in the comments!