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Contest - Usability Best Practices


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147 replies to this topic

#31 Scottie

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Posted 26 July 2003 - 08:24 PM

Welcome market seeker! -_-

Good to have you here~

A lot of the web forms I fill out a) aren't for my personal information or b)are my personal information but usually have a unique e-mail address and may be using one of several real addresses. The Google Toolbar only has my primary info.

I'll have to say, I notice the highlighted fields on forms but I haven't used the autofill feature yet. Maybe if I weren't such a complicated person.... :blink:

#32 wanderer

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Posted 26 July 2003 - 11:37 PM

Don't disable the "Back" button.

Don't force people to "Buy Now" before revealing the price. Why hide the price?

Use alt and title attributes to properly describe images, links, etc.

#33 excell

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 11:17 AM

Be careful of the use of pop up windows, don't try to control the users browser or create multiple open windows.

Take the time to put larger images into a navigatable page on the site instead of just pointing links into your images directory.

Optimise images for fast download without losing quality.

Keep overall page size down in consideration of those on dial up.

Take care when using flash to give those that cannot or will not download a plug in an alternative.

Back up fancy navigation such as java applet, flash DHTML & javascript with appropriate text links & sitemap.

Don't frighten people with the inappropriate use of elements such as unsolicited sound files. (Make it opt in!)

Contact pages should give clear contact details, not just a form to fill out that gives no info on who & where you are.

If using frames make sure that pages indexed in the search engines are navigatable.

Don't use frames unneseccarily :beer:

Check for cross browser compatibility and accesibility via text browsers or voice to text software.

#34 Scottie

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 11:19 AM

Welcome excell! :beer:

Great post!

#35 Jill

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 11:28 AM

Good stuff! Nice to see you here, Excell! :beer:

Jill

#36 excell

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 11:46 AM

:beer: {nice looking forums!}

#37 Bernard

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 05:19 PM

Add an exit option to flash splash movies/animations. Not everyone likes flash.

#38 Matt B

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 05:40 PM

Great one, Bernard. Or even better yet, NO Flash splash!

#39 daniel

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Posted 28 July 2003 - 08:00 AM

Use of H Tags

I want to add something about the use of H Tags beyond SEO - in particular, accessibility. Many screen readers rely on H Tags to interpret the structure of web pages. Even if web pages have a structure, without proper header tags, screen readers can't find it. So it is important to use H Tags - for your visitors.

To quote the W3C:

"A heading element briefly describes the topic of the section it introduces. Heading information may be used by user agents, for example, to construct a table of contents for a document automatically."


If screen readers like H Tags, it makes sense that search engines may also consider H Tags of importance - particularly if they are used correctly.

It makes 'logical' sense for H Tags to have a weighting in SEO. I wouldn't be surprised if the correctly structured use of H Tags was a factor in Google's algo. I'm also sure that any mis-use of H Tags will be frowned upon by search engines.

I'd extend what I've said to cover most HTML tags. Use them properly as they were intended to be used, and I'm sure the search engines will like your site as much as your human visitors.

Cheers,

Daniel

#40 Scottie

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Posted 28 July 2003 - 08:25 AM

Welcome Daniel :aloha:

Excellent point.

Another usability/SEO point is when setting up "Print this page" pages, put them in a separate directory so that you can exclude the robots from spidering them. "Print this" pages can be viewed as duplicate content.

#41 jbelle

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Posted 28 July 2003 - 09:31 AM

Scrolling: keep it one-directional and preferably vertical.

Flash skip buttons: do not put them inside the flash movie. If someone doesn't have flash, that skip button is useless.

Opening new windows or PDFs: warn users.

Home page link: Always have a consistent link to the home page of your site in the same location on every page (I do two: one at the top and one at the bottom). (Similar to consistent nav, but if you have a new small window you're opening, you may want a lighter design, but you should still have a link home, because you never know how someone will get to the site.)

------ Suggested: ------

Validation: run code through a validator; even if you're not going to create perfectly valid code, it will help you catch errors that could cause problems

Images: use at their actual dimensions.

Small pop up windows: don't turn off resizing and scrollbars: one or the other is workable, but preferably just keep resizing available.

Contact info: should be at the bottom of every page (obviously subjective, but almost always a good idea); at the very least a contact link.

#42 Jill

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Posted 28 July 2003 - 09:35 AM

More good stuff, thanks, guys! Welcome to Daniel. :aloha:

A good rule of thumb is to always use HTML tags in the manner that they were intended. That alone can help with usability and also from having to worry about getting banned or penalized by the search engines.

Jill

#43 daniel

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Posted 28 July 2003 - 11:49 AM

Site Search

This one's more for larger sites - but it could apply to smaller sites.

Ensure that every page has a search box, and place it at the top of the page. Make it obvious it is a search box, and try to use the word 'search' or 'go' for the button (I prefer search as it tends to be more intuitive for the user).

Make sure the search box is long enough so that the user can see the search terms they are entering into the box.

Although Jakob Nielsen annoys me a lot of the time, I do agree with a lot of what he says (I also disagree with a lot of what he says - but that's for another time!).

One thing that defnitely makes sense is Jakob's Law of the Internet User Experience that states:

Users spend most of their time on other sites. This means that users prefer your site to work the same way as all the other sites they already know.


This is why certain elements should be the same as they are everywhere else, or at least work in the way the user expects them to.

Going back to the site search. Many sites may get this part right, but then everything falls down when the user carries out a search and they're left with a page of meaningless results. :) Make sure the results page is useful, as your visitors may depend on it.

I think we'd all agree that Google's search interface works fairly well..... :aloha:

Cheers,

Daniel

#44 HorseCove

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Posted 28 July 2003 - 11:57 AM

Wow - These tips are fantastic. Looks like we have a lot of knowledgeable folks out there.

This may end up being a 2 part article! :aloha:

#45 Bill Slawski

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Posted 29 July 2003 - 10:34 PM

One thing that definitely makes sense is Jakob's Law of the Internet User Experience that states:

Users spend most of their time on other sites. This means that users prefer your site to work the same way as all the other sites they already know.


This is why certain elements should be the same as they are everywhere else, or at least work in the way the user expects them to.



This is one of those proclaimations by Dr. Nielsen that I have a difficult time agreeng with. Usability isn't about mindless conformity to guidelines.

He makes a lot of broad proclamations like this one, and while it may possess a scintilla of truth, it overgeneralizes and abandons common sense.

If we treated everything in the world the way that he says we should design websites in this quote, then we should just plow over everything that isn't mass produced, or a chain store, or a prefabricated house based upon a Levittown original. There would be no room for something that possessed regional charms, filled with local color, instead of ubiquitous ones. No individuality.

I'm not ready to abandon all creativity, to snuff out what little imaginative spark I have. I don't want to help build a world that caters to lessened expectations, and unimaginative models of unimaginative models of unimaginative models.

Building web sites isn't like making jello and pouring all of the contents into a mold, and letting it set.

Yes, a web site shouldn't confound or confuse a person, if you can help it.

But it also shouldn't be so much like every other site on the web that it's easy to ignore.

Usability best practice - provide an interesting experience for your site's visitors.




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