Take the worst first

All sites have usability problems!

All organizations have limited resources to devote to fixing usability problems.

You will always have more problems than resources to fix.

It's easy to get distracted by less serious problems that are easier to solve, which means the worst ones persist.

You must focus ruthlessly on only the most serious problems.

How to determine severity?

Will lots of people experience the problem?

Will it cause a serious problem for the people who experience it or is it just an inconvenience?

Determining severity is always a judgement call. The toughest problems are corner cases (very bad problems for only a few users) and ubiquitous nuisances (affect lots of people but are only minor annoyances).

When fixing problems, try to do the least you can do

What is the smallest change you can make to prevent the problem?

Always tweak your site, and improve the usability one change at a time. Tweaks cost less and require less work. Tweaks don't ruin lives, careers, or families. Small changes are quicker and more likely to happen.

If you make larger changes, you are more likely to break other things.

Most people do not like change. Tweaks are less obvious than redesigns. Redesigns annoy. Redesigns involve a lot of people in a lot of meetings.

Always relate everything back to an ROI.

The typical user of the product may be different than the audience on the web.

Users do not think about site structure at all.

Every search for information is a new guessing game.

Navigation bars at the top and bottom did better. Users looked at the top and bottom for answers.

Need a clearer 'You Are Here' indicator for navigation.

site maps clarify where the links lead.

Many people would return to the home page upon getting lost, even if it had the same navigational links as the page they were on.

Descriptive text links were better, especially if followed by a descriptive blurb.

People pick links based on their expectations of the page the link will take them to.

Avoid ambiguous links.

Too many links on a page cause confusion. Can help people by providing redundant links (different people use different words).

Embedded links can distract people who skim. Make sure the words in the link are clear.

Make sure a site search provides clear search results and the scope of the search is clearly defined.

Websites that sell products should help users make decisions.

People skim; help the skim.

A more white page is not better - less success in finding info.

White space spreads out information and slows skimming.

Users look for the button at the bottom.

Web Usability

Animation makes it hard to concentrate.

Download time was not important. The quality of graphics has little impact on users' ability to find and process information.

Designing for surfing versus designing for information retrieval.

Liking a site is not the same as using a site successfully.

Disliking a site - usability problem.

Ask yourself what are the obstacles to the users accomplishing their goals/ What do we change to remove those obstacles?

The more readable (on a readability scale) the text, the less successful the site was for finding information.

http://www.uie.com (User Interface Engineering)

Web Site Usability: A Designer's Guide
by Jared Spool, ISBN 978-1558605695
1998, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, San Francisco

These are notes I made after reading this book. See more book notes

Just to let you know, this page was last updated Tuesday, May 28 24