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Contest - Usability Best Practices


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147 replies to this topic

#61 market seeker

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Posted 30 July 2003 - 06:33 PM

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

That is one of my biggest pet peeves and will make me leave a site that I would have otherwise purchased something from. :D

#62 Just Learning

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Posted 30 July 2003 - 08:57 PM

Hi! Just got your newsletter, Jill, and had to check out the new forum -- thanks for all the great info. This thread has been very helpful and educational, and when I read this last post about hiding the price it struck a responsive chord with me for sure. That's my biggest pet peeve on the web and fastest way to get me to leave a store. I'm really new at learning about SEO -- and (almost) everything I know is from your newsletter, Jill. I wanted to add that one book I read really helped me get the concept of web usability. Hope it's okay to put a plug for it here -- and I promise I'm not in any way related to Steve Krug or getting any payment or compensation for this -- but Steve Krug's book, "Don't Make Me Think" turned a light on for me as far as what the most important issues are with web usability. For a beginner like me, I think it's a great starting place. The only down side is that after reading Steve's book I get really irritated at sites that make it hard for me to find what I'm looking for. I feel like writing them to say they should read the book & stop making me think!

#63 Paul Hayes

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Posted 30 July 2003 - 09:05 PM

Here are two:

Have whomever takes the customer inquiry telphone calls in a business write down detailed information about anything someone calls up and starts the conversation with "I was looking at your web site and had a question...". If they have a question, either content needs to be updated or the way things link together are not following the buyer's thought process.

Create literature as PDF docs so if someone has to show a superior in the organization something to move a purchasing decison forward, they can present something better looking that a printed out browser window. You only get one chance to make a first impression!

phayes@bannerbooth.com
www.bannerbooth.com

#64 Scottie

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Posted 30 July 2003 - 09:07 PM

"Don't Make Me Think" is an excellent book for learning about usability.

Welcome to the forum! :stout:

#65 njak

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Posted 30 July 2003 - 09:19 PM

Always put the Submit Form button on the left and on the Clear Form button on the right. Never, ever put the Submit Form button on the right and the Clear form button on the left.

I don't know how many times I have filled out a form, went to click the Submit button, ON THE LEFT, and it's been the clear button instead and I've cleared out all my form fill-ins instead of submitting the form.

:stout: omg :D

I just want to scream at the web designer/developer!

Just my .02 worth.

Julie

#66 Kal

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Posted 30 July 2003 - 10:47 PM

Cookie crumbs are good to help visitors know what page/section of your site they are on. You know, the trail that looks like this:

You are currently browsing this page:
Home > Our Services > SEO Services > Pricing

Also good for search engines if you make each crumb a keyword-rich text link :tooth:

<edit>Oops! Just noticed that brag had already posted about crumbs. Sorry B!</edit>

Edited by Kal, 30 July 2003 - 10:53 PM.


#67 Jill

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Posted 30 July 2003 - 10:52 PM

Welcome Just Learning, Paul and njak! :aloha:

I've never read the "Don't Make Me Think" book, but I love the title because it's exactly how I feel when I read stuff. I hate to think. It makes my head hurt. I can tell good writing from bad by that one thing. If I have to think about what I just read, then the writing is bad. If it just gets into my brain as if by osmosis, then the writing is good!

And I agree so much about that clear form button. In fact, why the heck even have that button at all? Who ever needs to clear the form? ;)

Jill

#68 Bill Slawski

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 12:57 AM

You would probably like Steven Krug's book then, Jill.

It's very easy to read. Most of the things he says seem very obvious, even though at least some of them are likely to be new to most readers.


... you spotted the ;) in my original post, I hope. :)


Sometimes subtlety is lost on me. Sorry. :aloha:

I did want to make the point that there are subjective aspects to usabilty that are difficult to measure, and come up with an easily defined metric for, and that user satisfaction is at least as important to plan for as the size of text, or the placement of a search box.


It may be fun, but if it's not usable first I won't be back! All things being equal though, it would be more appealing to visit a site that is fresh and original. It's just that things typically aren't equal and more emphasis is given to novelty than usability


Likeability is an important aspect of usability. But, it's also also more difficult thing to achieve because it can only really be measured during testing. But given two sites where everything else in the user experience was equal, the site that is more enjoyable does stand a chance of getting more traffic.

Have whomever takes the customer inquiry telphone calls in a business write down detailed information about anything someone calls up and starts the conversation with "I was looking at your web site and had a question...".


That's a great time to get some feedback about the site. Definitely have the person on the phone ask a question or two about the site while they are at it. It's as good as talking about the weather (or better) as a conversation opener. It may not be as good as conducting ongoing weekly usability testing, but it can help to get regular input from customers. By all means, count your self fortunate to be in a situation where you can get customer responses about a site. If you get a lot of those questions, consider conducting some usabilty testing.

Create literature as PDF docs...


There's a lot to be said for creating pdf versions and html versions of documents, so that people have a choice. Printable versions of html pages can turn out pretty good if you either have alternative printable versions or use cascading style sheets to make nice looking printed versions.

Here are a couple of articles that help explain how to do that:

CSS Beyond the Browser: Going to Print

and, James Kalbach's Printing the Web

The CSS printable versions are a good user experience if done right.

As for pdf files and usability, here's an article that points out a number of good usability approaches to pdf files. If you use them for documents on your website, it's worth reading.

Duff Johnson offers "PDF Online 101" crash course

A couple of the most important guidelines from that page: include web links in the page that return viewers back to your site, and use bookmarks on longer documents to help people navigate through the pages...

#69 torka

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 12:58 AM

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.

Hi, folks! Jill, I also just read about the forums in your newsletter and had to jump right on over here to check them out. So far, I'm loving them. Great topics! :aloha:

I think a better solution to the "print this" page is to use CSS. By using media-specific styles to specify different background/text colors, typefaces/sizes, etc. for printers versus browsers, you can have the exact same (X)HTML page serve as both your display and your "printer friendly" page. No duplicate content, no separate "printer friendly" pages, no subdirectories to exclude. ;)

There's a great article at A List Apart: www.alistapart.com/stories/goingtoprint/ that explains the "how to" much better than I can.

Hope this proves helpful!

==Torka

#70 Bill Slawski

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 01:01 AM

<edit>Oops! Just noticed that brag had already posted about crumbs. Sorry B!</edit>



Not a problem. There are a lot of really good suggestions throughout this thread. It's easy to miss one or two. :aloha:

#71 dragonlady7

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 07:57 AM

>Cooper Mini S
Cute car. If I were in the market for a car at all... I'd probably get a pickup truck. But that's beside the point.

>PDF
D'oh! Why didn't I think of that?
Y'know, I think making our product spec sheets easily available for download and printing would be a great idea. I'm going to have to run it by my boss, though. As it is the pages will print decently, but the navigation will be on them. The boss mentioned trying to get them to fit onto one page, and i talked him out of it, but i really should have thought about what that meant and suggested PDF versions earlier. He wants to launch this site tomorrow but keeps giving me new content in great quantities that I can't possibly assimilate... Argh.

We don't show prices on our webpage because it's not an e-commerce site-- prices are in the tens of thousands of dollars and it's going to have to involve contact with a salesperson. ;)

By the way, welcome, everybody! I haven't read the High Rankings® Advisor yet-- I'm saving it until I start work. :lol: Then I can start my working day the right way. Much nicer than starting off with, oh, work. :lmao:

#72 HorseCove

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 09:04 AM

Wow, Jill, your forum now has more usability information than just about anywhere else on the web. These tips are some of the most useful ones I have seen.

I'm glad Just Learning mentioned Steve Krug's book. It's one of my all time favorite usability books. Krug strips away all the scary stuff that intimidates people from doing usability tests. It's good useful information, just like your site!

I’ll start grouping the tips into categories (to be more useable) so all of our experts can see if any obvious tips are missing.

#73 mcanerin

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 11:30 PM

Hi All,

I do a lot of work for non-profit organisations and many of them have people who can't view sites the same way most people can - ie vision problems, epilepsy (flashing is bad) and so forth.

I routinely test sites with AnyBrowser.com for compatibility and with good old Lynx for vision impaired people.

When I began doing SEO full time, I kept my old habits and continued to check sites with these programs - and a very interesting thing happened. Lynx looks at a site very much like a spider would - take away the pretty pics and look at the content. I got a LOT better at SEO by doing this.

I also discovered that if I couldn't navigate the site with Lynx, or couldn't understand it, it was probably a good idea to work on Useability. This obviously wouldn't apply to Flash only sites and the like, but I find it very useful.

I guess this would be under the category of "Test the Site" but it's a good way to test it yourself "looking through someone elses eyes"

Ian

PS Has someone mentioned do a SpellCheck yet? That bugs me!

#74 markymark

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 06:31 AM

Have whomever takes the customer inquiry telphone calls in a business write down detailed information about anything someone calls up and starts the conversation with "I was looking at your web site and had a question...". If they have a question, either content needs to be updated or the way things link together are not following the buyer's thought process.


Hmm...with an ecommerce site, I would have to agree with yours and Bragadoccio's points, Paul. However, with a service or B2B site, one of the things you want visitors to do is to call up and ask questions about the service. That way you get a dialogue going and can pitch to the potential client. I am a strong believer in including plenty of information on a website but not so much that the visitor is disincentivised from calling the company.

It is very easy for a business site to get carried away with the technical information and forget that their website is a tool to generate new business. I would say that if someone phones up with a question, in some circumstances the website has done the job very well.

To indicate what I'm talking about, I'd put foward this site : http://www.bchr.com as being an good example of providing the right amount of information to encourage visitors to contact the company (they are an HR consultancy) and discuss things in detail. And yeah, it's one of my clients and I'm damn proud of it !

#75 Jellytott

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 08:41 AM

1.Dont have any dead end pages, regardless of how good your page navigation structure is.
Give the user a suggestion and hyperlink of where else may interest them on the site.
This applies equally to info sites aswell as e-commerce set ups.




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