Tag Archives: Usability

Jakob Nielsen Slams Windows 8 Usability

I’m not normally one to agree with Jakob Nielsen, but he really hit the nail on the head with his fresh rant panning Windows 8. He has seven main complaints, from the “double desktop” inconsistency and low information density to the overly flat UI making it difficult to determine what is and isn’t an interactive element.

I’ve long thought that the split between the Desktop and Metro UIs would confuse newbies, though perhaps not so badly as the ARM/x86 issue. A lot of the people who ran out and bought the Surface tablet will probably be irritated when they learn that their x86 software won’t run on it, since the binaries are incompatible with the ARM architecture.

It’s an interesting read.

Windows 8 — Disappointing Usability for Both Novice and Power Users [UseIt]

Nielsen Wants Your Passwords to Be Visible to the World

Usability authority Jakob Nielsen recently published a new article suggesting that developers “abandon legacy design” and stop masking password fields with bullets or asterisks, because of “reduced usability to protect against a non-issue.”

Most websites (and many other applications) mask passwords as users type them, and thereby theoretically prevent miscreants from looking over users’ shoulders. Of course, a truly skilled criminal can simply look at the keyboard and note which keys are being pressed. So, password masking doesn’t even protect fully against snoopers.

More importantly, there’s usually nobody looking over your shoulder when you log in to a website.

This is wrong on so many levels.

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What Makes Someone Leave Your Website?

Vandelay Design has a list of some of the most common things that cause people to leave your website. While it’s not a good idea to obsess over keeping people on your site, it’s worth reading up on how to optimize your site to promote staying longer.

Part of having a successful website is attracting visitors. Keeping those visitors on your site, however, is another topic altogether. Of course, once you have the visitor on your site you’ll want to keep them around for a while rather than seeing them quickly leaving to go somewhere else.

In order to do a good job of retaining visitors, increasing pageviews and time on the site, it’s important to think about what could cause visitors to leave. By knowing some of the major reasons that people are leaving your site, you can make adjustments to improve this situation.

The list covers the main areas that you want to pay attention to to successfuly optimize your site in this manner, which pretty much fall into the categories of content, design, and advertisements. Keep in mind though, that if people notice that you are actively trying to keep them on your site, it will be a major turn off. So don’t

  • Be stingy with outgoing links
  • Open external links in pop-up windows
  • Try to disable the Back button

Stay away from little tricks like that that hinder the user experience.

The Usability Post

A new blog has started up over the past month or so, and quickly gained the attention of the design crowd, after a few social media hits, and posts on the front page of Design Float.

The Usability Post covers, well, usability. It’s focus is not the visual aspect of design, but how design works. From the About page:

The Usability Post is a blog about design. Design isn’t what something looks like, design is about how it works. Making something usable means understanding what people expect from your product and thinking of ways to make the use of the product simple and enjoyable.

The blog shows promise, and is worth checking out.

Here are a couple of posts from Usability Post that I enjoyed:

Book Review: Designing the Obvious

I recently came a across a mention online of Designing the Obvious by Robert Hoekman Jr. Being a cheapskate as usual, I checked the local library’s catalog for the book, and checked it out the next time I went there.

Designing the Obvious is a guide to designing highly usable web applications, featuring the idea that simplicity is the key to usability. It covers plenty of bases, and is very thorough with its advice and explanations. The book is easy to understand, and is a good read for anyone who develops web applications, or is involved in the design of any sort of website.

There are plenty of examples, in the form of diagrams screen shots from websites, to illustrate the points, and overall the book strikes me as being very blog-like. The writing style, the assortment of interesting pictures, and the way the type is set all remind me of a blog.

Being an advocate of simplicity in interface design, the author has included several examples from Apple and Google, of course, as well as 37Signals’ Backpack. I found his theory that instead of using a modal prompt when deleting data, you should instead delete it immediately and offer to undo it after (as seen in GMail), particularly enlightening.

Mr. Hoekman strikes me as being very knowledgeable in the area of web app design, and I found myself agreeing with a good portion of his points, and I think I learned a few things as I read the book. If you do a bit of web design, whether it’s related to web apps or not, I would recommend giving the book a try.

Profile of the Most Annoying Site on the Web

What is the most annoying website on the web like? Well, there are a couple of satirical attempts to be the most annoying (view at your own risk), but they’re just trying to be funny (in an odd sort of way), but they’re not realistic.

In my opinion, the most annoying real website ever

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