Archive for October, 2006

against all logic

October 30, 2006

I consider myself to fairly IT literate; I do these things as a job, I have an MSc in a computing based subject, so I’d think that poor usability wouldn’t affect me as much. If something doesn’t work as it should I can usually find a way round things to get to where I want to go or get something to work as it should.  

Of course I am affected by poor usability because it is wasting my time, but I can usually achieve my goal. However, I was filling out an electronic form the other week and when I went to submit my form, I could not find the submit button, it just was not there. I spent a short while looking at this form, thinking its got to be here somewhere, may be they have done something stupid with the validation where I’ve not entered something and so the submit button has not been activated. But no everything was entered as it should be. 

I finally discovered that the submit button was there all the time, except it wasn’t at the end of the form where logic would suggest, but at the top of the page! What is the point of that? 

My advice is just don’t do it. There is no logic ever I have come across and would ever expect to come across that would suggest you put the final stage at the starting point. 

This has now been changed due to lots of questions and feedback. The point here is that poor usability has cost the company in support costs. Having to answer and deal with all those enquiries that really didn’t need to happen if they had just positioned the submit button at the end of the form.


usability reviews

October 25, 2006

Usability is simply about good customer service. Having a website that is usable will increase customer loyalty, reduce support costs and help increase sales.

Jakob Nielsen  claims “…with better usability, the average site could increase its current sales by 79%” 

Check out my new website I’m offering expert usability evaluations, which will:

  • Provide a thorough analysis of your website’s usability strengths and weaknesses; and
  • Offer specific recommendations on how to increase its usability.


October 24, 2006

I’ve just read the article on boxes and arrows ‘Real Wireframes Get Real Results’. I have to agree with the point that all too often you show a wireframe to a group of people who will ask, “So, is the new website going to be black and white too?”. It is a fact that people are confused by wireframes, however the point about making it more real using a bit of colour and real form elements etc is not ideal either. In fact we used this approach, which started a huge argument about who has signed these colours off, why has it been done like this. In fact they misunderstood the point more by using this approach.

If you should get one thing right, it’s the checkout process.

October 16, 2006

Frequently, I come across websites that have usability issues on the checkout process. This is an absolute no no, if you want to keep customers.

Many people are already concerned about online security and yet companies keep failing to get this right.

My most recent example was paypal. I infrequently buy things from ebay and so when I bought an item last week and paid via paypal, (I forgot that I had registered before and was in a hurry) I went for the quick checkout option and didn’t sign into paypal. So when I got the error message ‘ this credit card is assigned to another account’  I freaked! what oh no have I been a victim of credit card fraud!

I only figured out that I had registered about a year ago, after 1/2 hour of panic and sheer annoyance.

card sorting

October 9, 2006

I guess I’m looking for some debate here, but how effective is card sorting in helping you to develop an IA.

Personally, I don’t find it that useful. Not as much as all the books and guidance would have you believe. Why? Because: 

  • we rely on using small groups, which are not representative enough.
  • an open card sort does not address any of the issues associated with seeking behaviours such as ‘I don’t know what I’m looking for?’
  • if using this method for an Intranet, staff that took part expect their suggestions used and can affect their expectation when they’re not.

I think that Donna Maurer’s card-based validation technique is far more useful and works well.

Keep it simple

October 5, 2006

I’ve just read an article on the BBC news website ‘Geekspeak still baffles web users‘.  It talks about how Britons are increasingly web savvy but are still confused by tech jargon.

I would say that this extends to any web content – avoid the use of acronyms as much as possible. The problem is getting worse with new terms being created and then being abbreviated. So what we’re getting is one acronym with many meanings!

Consistency, ConSIStency, ConSisTENCY…

October 3, 2006

I have had a few debates lately with my colleagues about consistency. My view is that consistency is incredibly important in helping the user navigate around the website without getting lost, to which they all agree. 

However we have been debating to what extent consistency should be applied. Some have argued that all areas should be consistent throughout the site. However, I’m not convinced. If we look at the diagram, for me the logo and areas A, B and E should be consistent. Whereas, C could/should change to list the content in that section and area E should change to reflect the type of content. For example, if you have a website that has magazine type content it should be styled differently to that type of content that would suit a list if links.

Too much consistency can make you feel lost as everything looks the same. Considering that users scan read web pages and don’t read everything, there should be something visually that will help the user identify one section from the next.