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Monthly ArchiveOctober 2007

Usability 23 Oct 2007 07:56 pm

Topic 7: Usability (Last Minute Details)

For our session tomorrow, we have lots of exhibits. I am not sure that that is all that usable, but we will give it a try.

First, here is the main presentation. Whoo is it that long? Yes, but there are lots of pictures, so it goes quickly. It includes material from both Michael Graber and Jason Verlangieri.

Second, thanks to some current work that Jason Verlangieri did with LandSafe, we here are some special exhibits he prepared.

Enough. Enough. More later, after the session tomorrow.

Usability 16 Oct 2007 03:20 pm

Topic 7: Usability (Which one am I?)

Let’s go back to Jakob Nielsen’s site and ask

What is my style?

Fancy Formatting, Fancy Words = Looks Like a Promotion = Ignored

His headlines almost prove the point (if you click on the headlines, it will take you to his posting on Fancy Formatting). The words are so jarring that we tend to look away, which is quite interesting, since you would think it would be the other way around.

We really do ignore most things on websites–even ones that we use everyday, even one’s where we are supposed to do most of our work.

In his eye-tracking research of the website, Jakob Nielsen noticed several different search styles.

  • Search dominant users. No nonsense here. The classic search dominant user looks around briefly, just on the off chance that something will strike them, but really, they go straight to search. He says that about 57% of the users in this test were search dominant users. I think people end up with this strategy out of frustration. They do not expect to be able to find things, so they go straight to search.
  • Navigation dominant users. Navigation is like search, except that it centers on finding the right buttons or links to use. Because it is often not a very successful strategy (websites often do not provide good navigational tools), most people do not adopt this strategy.
  • Tool dominant user. Tool dominant users use drop down menus and other “interactive” features of websites. Because many sites do not have interactive features, this is not always a successful strategy. But when there are good interactive systems, people like them since it gives them some control. (Control is always good.)
  • Successful users. Some users were successful users. They users manage to find the information provided on the site from the resource that the web designer intended. It is sometimes accidental. In the experience, these users were search dominant users who got lucky (which is how most people’s experience with many websites can be–they feel lucky if they find what they want).

[Many people simply do not try to look things up on websites. They use Google instead. How lame is that? What is it that we are doing that people cannot find things on our own websites?]

So, which one are you?

  • Do you recognize your style?
  • What is it that website developers might do to make things easier for you?
  • What are the frustrations you have trying to find things on the web?

It all comes down to “usability”. We don’t use things that are hard to us, unless we have to.

Usability 08 Oct 2007 03:10 pm

Topic 7: Usability (“noticing” again)

What else can we notice?

Keys and cards.

In no particular order

  • Do you have a grocery “affinity club” card? It is even hard to know what to call them, you know, those cards you get from Krogers, Winn-Dixie, Ralphs, Safeway and so on?
    • Why? (Would you carry one if they did not create special “discounts”?)
    • How many do you have?
    • Do you carry the card (or one of this key ring mini versions?) How many is too many to carry?
    • Or, do you just give them your phone number?

Loyalty Cards on Keyring

  • How “usable” is it? Is there any of that “little awkward moment” at the check out line when you are trying to find your affinity club card and your credit card and watch your kids and… what else?
  • Can you scan the card or does the “checker” need to do something?
  • While we are at the grocery store
    • does your grocery store have one of those ATM/credit card readers where you “swipe” your card?
    • when you look at it, do you know which way your card should go?
    • do you have to look at your card to figure it out?


ATM Credit Card Reader

  • Do you have one of those “keyless entry” cards or whatchacallits? Of course you do.
    • What does it unlock?
    • Did you use one the last time you stayed in a hotel room?
      • why do they make sense for hotel rooms?
      • would you rather have a card key or a key?
      • have you ever had one that did not work? What did you do?
  • Finally, Gift Cards
    • Why are gift cards a great invention? Why are they better than gift certificates?
    • Why are gift cards a good example of “affordances and metaphors”? Do you have any confusion about how to use gift cards?
    • Mickey sure doesn’t.
    • Disney Gift Card
  • After a brief trip to the Happiest Place on Earth, we’ll be back to “notice” some more.













Quizzing Ourselves &Usability 08 Oct 2007 01:16 pm

Topic 7: Usability (In the Wild)

Usability in the Wild

For this exercise, let’s take a real live example of a website, and see how “usable” it is.

Go the the US Census Bureau website, and find out the population of the United States. Where did you find it? How long did it take?

For an analysis of this website, visit Jakob Nielsen’s website ( , and see how most people responded to this site, and how they did with that same question. Click here for “fancy formatting”.

Interesting. It seems as if our best instincts may not be the right answer.

What did Jakob Nielsen say the website should do? Do you agree?