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Topic: Usability

  • Designing Web Registration Processes for Kids

    by Debra Levin Gelman · Issue 323 ·

    Designing websites for kids is a fascinating, challenging, rewarding, and exasperating experience: You’re trying to create a digital experience for people who lack the cognitive capacity to understand abstraction; to establish brand loyalty with people who are influenced almost exclusively by their peers; and to communicate subjective value propositions to people who can only see things in black-and-white. Fortunately, it’s possible to create a successful registration process for these folks with an understanding of how their brains work. Debra Levin Gelman explores how to design effective registration forms for kids based on their context, technical skills, and cognitive capabilities.

  • Testing Accordion Forms

    by Luke Wroblewski · Issue 314 ·

    Web forms let people complete important tasks on your site; web form design details can have a big impact on how successful, efficient, and happy with the process they are—especially details like form length. Enter accordion forms, which dynamically hide and reveal sections of related questions as people complete the form, allowing them to focus on what matters and finish quickly. How do your smallest design decisions affect completion speed? Which design choices make these innovative forms feel familiar and easy? Which choices make them feel foreign and complex, leading people to make errors?

  • Good Help is Hard to Find

    by Lyle Mullican · Issue 312 ·

    Help content gets no respect. For one thing, it is content, and our horse-before-cart industry is only now beginning to seriously tackle content strategy. For another, we assume that our site is so usable, nobody will ever need the help content anyway. Typically, no one is in charge of the help content and no strategy exists to keep it up to date. On most sites, help content is hard to find, poorly written, blames the user, and turns a mildly frustrating experience into a lousy one. It's time to rethink how we approach this part of our site. Done well, help content offers tremendous potential to earn customer loyalty. By learning to plan for and create useful help content, we can turn frustrated users into our company's biggest fans.

  • Quick and Dirty Remote User Testing

    by Nate Bolt · Issue 306 ·

    User research doesn’t have to be expensive and time-consuming. With online applications, you can test your designs, wireframes, and prototypes over the phone and your computer with ease and aplomb. Nate Bolt shows the way.

  • Design Patterns: Faceted Navigation

    by Jeffery Callender, Peter Morville · Issue 304 ·

    Faceted navigation may be the most significant search innovation of the past decade. It features an integrated, incremental search and browse experience that lets users begin with a classic keyword search and then scan a list of results. It also serves up a custom map that provides insights into the content and its organization and offers a variety of useful next steps. In keeping with the principles of progressive disclosure and incremental construction, it lets users formulate the equivalent of a sophisticated Boolean query by taking a series of small, simple steps. Learn how it works, why it has become ubiquitous in e-commerce, and why it’s not for every site.

  • Web Standards for E-books

    by Joe Clark · Issue 302 ·

    E-books aren't going to replace books. E-books are books, merely with a different form. More and more often, that form is ePub, a format powered by standard XHTML. As such, ePub can benefit from our nearly ten years’ experience building standards-compliant websites. That's great news for publishers and standards-aware web designers. Great news for readers, too. Our favorite genius, Joe Clark, explains the simple why and how.

  • Accent Folding for Auto-Complete

    by Carlos Bueno · Issue 301 ·

    Another generation of technology has passed and Unicode support is almost everywhere. The next step is to write software that is not just "internationalized" but truly multilingual. In this article we will skip through a bit of history and theory, then illustrate a neat hack called accent-folding. Accent-folding has its limitations but it can help make some important yet overlooked user interactions work better.

  • The Problem with Passwords

    by Lyle Mullican · Issue 300 ·

    Abandoning password masking as Jakob Nielsen suggests could present serious problems, including undermining a user’s trust by failing to meet a basic expectation. But with design patterns gleaned from offline applications, plus a dash of JavaScript, we can provide feedback and reduce password errors without compromising the basic user experience or losing our visitors’ trust.

  • You Can Get There From Here: Websites for Learners

    by Amber Simmons · Issue 295 ·

    "Content-rich" is not enough. Most websites are not learner-friendly. As an industry, we haven't done our best to make our content-rich websites suitable for learning and exploration. Learners require more from us than keywords and killer headlines. They need an environment that is narrative, interactive, and discoverable. Amber Simmons tells how to begin creating rich content sites that invite and repay exploration and discovery.

  • Can You Say That in English? Explaining UX Research to Clients

    by David Sherwin · Issue 295 ·

    It's hard for clients to understand the true value of user experience research. As much as you'd like to tell your clients to go read The Elements of User Experience and call you back when they're done, that won't cut it in a professional services environment. David Sherwin creates a cheat sheet to help you pitch UX research using plain, client-friendly language that focuses on the business value of each exercise.

  • The Myth of Usability Testing

    by Robert Hoekman Jr. · Issue 294 ·

    Usability evaluations are good for many things, but determining a team's priorities is not one of them. The Molich experiment proves a single usability team can't discover all or even most major problems on a site. But usability testing does have value as a shock treatment, trust builder, and part of a triangulation process. Test for the right reasons and achieve a positive outcome.

  • Usability Testing Demystified

    by Dana Chisnell · Issue 293 ·

    The value in usability testing comes from the magic of observing and listening as people use a design. The things you see and the things you hear are often surprising, illuminating, and unpredictable. This unpredictability is tough to capture in any other way. Dana Chisnell shows you how.

  • Beyond Goals: Site Search Analytics from the Bottom Up

    by Lou Rosenfeld · Issue 292 ·

    Top-down analytics are great for creating measurable goals you can use to benchmark and evaluate the performance of your content and designs. But bottom-up analysis teaches you something new and unexpected about your customers, something goal-driven analysis can't show you. Discover the kinds of information users want, and identify your site's most urgent mistakes.

  • Internal Site Search Analysis: Simple, Effective, Life Altering!

    by Avinash Kaushik · Issue 292 ·

    Your search and clickstream data is missing a key ingredient: customer intent. You have all the clicks, the pages people viewed, and where they bailed, but not why they came to the site. Your internal site-search data contains that missing ingredient: intent. Learn five ways to analyze your internal site-search data, data that's easy to get, to understand, and to act on.

  • Testing Search for Relevancy and Precision

    by John Ferrara · Issue 292 ·

    Despite the fact that site search often receives the most traffic, it’s also the place where the user experience designer bears the least influence. Few tools exist to appraise the quality of the search experience, much less strategize ways to improve it. But relevancy testing and precision testing offer hope. These are two tools you can use to analyze and improve the search user experience.

  • Introduction to RDFa II

    by Mark Birbeck · Issue 287 ·

    In part I of this series, we looked at how semantic features normally confined to the head of an HTML document can be used to add semantic richness to the elements of the body. Along the way, we defined six rules of RDFa. In part II, we’ll learn how to add properties to an image, and how to add metadata to any item—and we’ll add a few more rules to that list.

  • Visual Decision Making

    by Patrick Lynch · Issue 286 ·

    If it takes only 50 milliseconds for users to form an aesthetic opinion of your site’s credibility and trustworthiness, are designers who create visually compelling sites simply wasting time and treasure on graphic indulgences? Patrick Lynch doesn't think so.

  • Introduction to RDFa

    by Mark Birbeck · Issue 286 ·

    In part one of a two-part primer on RDFa, learn how semantic features normally confined to the head of an HTML document can be used to add semantic richness to the elements of the body. Mark Birbeck shows us how.

  • Indexing the Web—It’s Not Just Google’s Business

    by Lyle Mullican · Issue 285 ·

    Interface responsiveness is one of many details web developers must consider in their quest to deliver a good user experience. An application that responds quickly enhances the user’s sense of control. In working to maximize application speed, though, one often-overlooked element can affect performance more than almost anything else: database design.

  • The Elements of Social Architecture

    by Christina Wodtke · Issue 279 ·

    While our designs can never control people, they can encourage good behavior and discourage bad. In this excerpt from Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web 2nd Edition, Christina Wodtke tells us how to make products that delight people and change their lives by remembering the social in social architecture.