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Contest - Usability Best Practices


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147 replies to this topic

#106 deborah2002

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 02:46 PM

Well, then, as long as I'm on a roll.........I can appreciate all sites for themselves as long as they have certain criteria. This thread went in a whole bunch of directions when speaking of "creativity" versus "usability". Got kinda scary there for a while.
Creativity is fine, even welcome, in certain arenas. As stated before, it all depends on your target audience. You can try the fancy stuff on a bunch of IT folks whereas that wouldn't fly if grandma was trying to find an antique clock :learn:
Certain elements are just fundamental (IMO).
1. Keep it simple (the 3 click rule works for me)
2. Keep it uniform (let them know they are still on your site!)
3. Keep it straight (guessing games aren't good for e-commerce)
4. Keep it informative (contact, FAQ, email, phone, address, etc)

Those are the basics for my site because that's what I more or less expect from other sites. I want to know the site KNOWS what they are selling/talking about. I want to have trust they will do the right thing w/my Visa and my email address.

Beyond that, creativity is fine.

You will be overjoyed to know my rambling dissertation is over (only because I have a huge cramp in my hand).

:cheers:
deb

#107 websage

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 01:54 PM

I just printed the Usability Tips posted on KeyRelevance.com and was surprised that we overlooked something very important:

Make sure the site can be used without a mouse -- test if when using TAB all the links are in the proper information flow order. This is particularly important for web forms.

Generally speaking, making a site accessible will make it more usable too . While the initial target audience for accessibility improvements might be people with disabilities, many more people will benefit. Consider the example of the curb on street sitewalks -- initially installed for people on wheelchairs, nowadays they are used much more by fathers and mothers with strollers, bicycle riders, and so on.

To bring home the pain of people with disabilities, check the following:

Inaccessible Website Demonstration -- this requires the Flash plugin.

When adding ALT text for images, keep in mind that overdoing it can be painful. If using tables and transparent GIF files for layout , do the blind visitor a favor and do NOT add anything more than " " for ALT text . If you put "Blank image" throughout the page, when the visitor's JAWS (or any other reading web browser) reads the page, it would be extremely annoying to have "Blank image" repeated over and over.

Last but not least, going back to the question of consistent navigation, try to navigate through this mouse maze!! This should teach us all a lesson :-)

Mitko @ WebSage

#108 deborah2002

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 02:01 PM

Very nice, websage! I hadn't given the lack-of-mouse a thought. That is one to chew on............................ omg



deb

#109 websage

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 02:27 PM

I recall seeing somewhere a suggestion to use color for emphasis. From usability point of view, one should be very careful about this one. The main reason is simple -- there are many people who are color blind (more so males than females -- one our of 12 males have some form of this disability).

See for yourself how things on the web look to color-blind people!

And since we are at a forum dedicated to search engine optimization, seems to me important to recall that search engine crawlers are also color-blind :-)

Beyond the point of color-blindness, we all will one day have a certain disability, whether we like this idea or not, so designing and developing today for the day when we are less able should be a good rule of thumb :-)

Mitko @ WebSage

#110 Mel

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 02:46 PM

I recall seeing somewhere a suggestion to use color for emphasis. From usability point of view, one should be very careful about this one. The main reason is simple -- there are many people  who are color blind  (more so males than females -- one our of 12 males have some form of this disability).

See for yourself how things on the web look to color-blind people!

And since we are at a forum dedicated to search engine optimization, seems to me important to recall that search engine crawlers are also color-blind :-)

Beyond the point of color-blindness, we all will one day have a certain disability, whether we like this idea or not, so designing and developing today for the day when we are less able should be a good rule of thumb :-)

Mitko @ WebSage

Hi Mitko
I believe the spiders are not so color blind, at least Google seems to think that different colored text should rank differently.

#111 websage

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 03:02 PM

Mel, thanks for correcting me. I would like to read more about this -- any hints? Particularly, are there any prefered colors? Do they care if the colors are defined in CSS or in the HTML?
Thanks,
Mitko

#112 Jill

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 03:20 PM

Hi Mitko
I believe the spiders are not so color blind, at least Google seems to think that different colored text should rank differently.

What makes you say that, Mel? Could you elaborate? I've never heard that before, and never really thought about it much. Do you have some proof of this?

Jill

#113 denver

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 11:27 PM

A couple of things have occurred to me:

1. Although text-only browsers and slow links have been mentioned, no-one has specifically mentioned per page download times. Short and sweet is how I like it. Keep an eye on how long it takes to download a page, and be aware of the typical access speed of the bulk of internet users (probably something like 28k8 to 56k? Maybe someone here knows of a good public source for that sort of data?)


2. Someone mentioned contact info. I find it's a bit like the dead links issue; make sure that the contact info works!!

There are few things more frustrating than sending an email to the contact address and getting a bounce - "recipient unknown"!! :)

In this respect, use ROLES (webmaster, postmaster, sales, support, etc) rather than individuals NAMES.

Then, use your email system to do intelligent things with your incoming mail off your website, just like you use unique URL's to track clicks from different sources so you can measure CTR's and conversion rates, use unique roles on your website contact info so you will know when your website is generating incoming email.

Then you can direct that email to the appropriate individual, but do it internally to the mail system, not direct off the website. Cuts down on the workload when an individual leaves and doesn't annoy your customers with contact dead-ends.

You may never get all the information you want, but try to get what you need and remember, in the land of the blind, the man with one eye is King.


As ever :P

Edited by denver, 05 August 2003 - 11:34 PM.


#114 Mel

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 11:30 PM

Hi Jill off the top of my head I can't remember the exact URL, but I will look for it. It was in the context that font size, bolding, positioning and color were all taken into account in the ranking

In the meantime The Google Search Appliance says they consider the font when ranking.

#115 Bill Slawski

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 12:06 AM

Keep an eye on how long it takes to download a page, and be aware of the typical access speed of the bulk of internet users (probably something like 28k8 to 56k? Maybe someone here knows of a good public source for that sort of data?)



If you keep someone waiting too long, they will think your site is broken and go somewhere else. But, there's some interesting data from the Usabilty Interface Engineering group in this article:

The Truth About Download Time
http://www.uie.com/truth.htm


Font colors and SEO?

In the meantime The Google Search Appliance says they consider the font when ranking.


That's sort of cryptic. Arial v. Helvetica? Bold v. italic? Red v. Blue?

For each query,Google factors in 100 variables, including anchor text, URL patterns, fonts and positioning data to calculate relevance.


While I believe that you saw something like that, I'm having difficulty figuring out how the color of a font can have any impact at all upon relevancy except in the instance where it might be the same as a background, rendering it invisible. I mean, is a statement written in red more relevant than one written in blue? If all of the keywords on a page were written in #330000 instead of the same color as the body text at #000000, would they be weighed more heavily?

#116 Mel

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 12:12 AM

I really can'tanswer the question as to why Google does what it does, but then why should bolded text be any more important than regular text?

#117 Jill

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 11:57 AM

It would make sense for bolded text to possibly be given more relevance in a search engine's ranking algorithm, then non-bolded text.

Personally, I'm not convinced that they do. I'd have to see evidence proving it before I would put much stock in it. I'm one of the few SEOs who questions whether H tags are actually given more weight, and I don't use them as a habit on every site.

Colored fonts? Nah, I just can't see it. If you have some proof, I'd love to see it, but otherwise, we're just speculating just like so many other things are speculated on in this industry.

I want to see facts for these kinds of statements. Otherwise rumors get spread through the SEO rumor mill faster than wild fire, and it really doesn't help anyone concentrate on really making their pages be the best they can be. People get too caught up in things like colored fonts, bold fonts, H tags.

In reality, none of those things make a difference if you don't have good content. If you do have good content, you don't need those things at all.

Jill

#118 qwerty

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 12:02 PM

It would make sense for bolded text to possibly be given more relevance in a search engine's ranking algorithm, then non-bolded text. 
Personally, I'm not convinced that they do.  I'd have to see evidence proving it before I would put much stock in it.  I'm one of the few SEOs who questions whether H tags are actually given more weight, and I don't use them as a habit on every site.

Didn't DanO have some research on this? If I remember correctly, he concluded that H1 and H2 are more or less equivalent, they're weighted more heavily than bolded text, and all three are weighted more heavily than normal text.

I've never seen any research that indicated that the color of text made any difference at all.

#119 websage

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 01:58 PM

On download speed -- keep an eye on this page, it used to have a great speed optimization analysis tool:

http://www.websiteop...rvices/analyze/

It goes beyond download speed -- it analyses the page down to its elements to suggest improvements.

Mitko @ WebSage

#120 burgeltz

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 07:52 PM

Denver asked if anyone had stats on typical access speeds. I gave a talk on this at Internet World back in April: about 66% of home internet users are surfing at 56K or slower (note that's home users only). Dial-up users are expected to remain a majority through 2005.

So keeping your pages fast over a narrowband connection is going to be an issue for a long time to come.

Some basic load time tips:
  • Optimize your graphics
  • Use image height/width
  • Set widths for tables
And some of my favorite tips:
  • Use table-layout: fixed (but know what you're doing when you use it!)
  • Put JavaScript and CSS into external files so browsers can cache them.
  • Use weighted optimization on your graphics
  • Use SCRIPT DEFER for your JavaScript if it uses an event trigger
  • Don't overuse nested tables
  • Don't trust your WYSIWYG editor to write smart code
  • Use HTTP compression (if you run your own web server)
And some advanced tips for dynamic web sites:
  • Minimize switching between HTML and ASP/PHP/JSP code
  • Don't request more data than you need from your database
  • Don't store static data (such as whole web pages) in your database
  • Consider reducing the size of the server's output buffer
  • Index your SQL tables
  • Optimize your db queries

Edited by burgeltz, 06 August 2003 - 09:25 PM.





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