A List Apart

Menu

Topic: Usability

  • The Myth of Usability Testing

    ·

    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

    ·

    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.

  • Testing Search for Relevancy and Precision

    ·

    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.

  • Beyond Goals: Site Search Analytics from the Bottom Up

    ·

    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!

    ·

    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.

  • Introduction to RDFa II

    ·

    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

    ·

    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

    ·

    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

    ·

    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

    ·

    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.

  • Return of the Mobile Stylesheet

    ·

    At least 10% of your visitors access your site over a mobile device. They deserve a good experience (and if you provide one, they’ll keep coming back). Converting your multi-column layout to a single, linear flow is a good start. But mobile devices are not created equal, and their disparate handling of CSS is like 1998 all over again. Please your users and tame their devices with handheld style sheets, CSS media queries, and (where necessary) JavaScript or server-side techniques.

  • Getting Real About Agile Design

    ·

    Agile development was made for tough economic times, but does not fit comfortably into the research-heavy, iteration-focused process designers trust to deliver user- and brand-based sites. How can we update our thinking and methods to take advantage of what agile offers?

  • Flexible Fuel: Educating the Client on IA

    ·

    IA is about selling ideas effectively, designing with accuracy, and working with complex interactivity to guide different types of customers through website experiences. The more your client knows about IA’s processes and deliverables, the likelier the project is to succeed.

  • Understanding Progressive Enhancement

    ·

    Steven Champeon turned web development upside down, and created an instant best practice of standards-based design, when he introduced the notion of designing for content and experience instead of browsers. In part one of a series, ALA’s Gustafson refreshes us on the principles of progressive enhancement. Upcoming installments will translate the philosophy into sophisticated, future-focused design and code.

  • Test-Driven Progressive Enhancement

    ·

    Starting with semantic HTML, and layering enhancements using JavaScript and CSS, is supposed to create good experiences for all. Alas, enhancements still find their way to aging browsers and under-featured mobile devices that don’t parse them properly. What’s a developer to do? Scott Jehl makes the case for capabilities testing.

  • Zebra Striping: More Data for the Case

    ·

    As designers or marketers, we share a desire that our tables and forms be easy to scan, read, and use. Does the widely practiced shading of alternate rows help, hurt, or have no effect? A previous study proving inconclusive, designer and researcher Jessica Enders has tackled the conundrum again, coming up with statistically relevant data and a set of recommendations.

  • Look at it Another Way

    ·

    Before you can solve a user’s problems, you must see them as that user sees them. Once you understand what drives people’s behavior, not only do new ideas flow freely, but the ideas that flow are appropriate and useful. Indi Young tells how to get out of your own way and hear what your users are telling you.

  • Deafness and the User Experience

    ·

    Because of limited awareness around Deafness and accessibility in the web community, it seems plausible to many of us that good captioning will fix it all. It won’t. Before we can enhance the user experience for all deaf people, we must understand that the needs of deaf, hard of hearing, and big-D Deaf users are often very different.

  • Zebra Striping: Does it Really Help?

    ·

    Just because a design convention exists doesn’t mean it works. Our field runneth over with design patterns, but is low on evidence of their utility. Jessica Enders drops some science on the widespread belief that zebra stripes aid the reader by guiding the eye along a table row.

  • Sign Up Forms Must Die

    ·

    You load a new web service, eager to dive in and start engaging,  and what’s the first thing that greets you? A sign-up form. We can do better, says Luke Wroblewski, author of Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks. Via a technique of “gradual engagment,” we can get people using and caring about our web services instead of frustrating them (or sending them to a competitor’s site) by forcing them to fill out a sign-up form first.