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usability 101

If you've never read Jacob Neilsen before, today's edition is an excellent Introduction to Usability. I'm so glad he's just on the earth saying what he says. Everyone who's ever made a website should not only consider Usability, but advocate it... it's the first bit of advice I give to webmasters starting out (before "how to learn HTML", even). This is from today's:

If a website is difficult to use, people leave. If the homepage fails to clearly state what a company offers and what users can do on the site, people leave. If users get lost on a website, they leave. If a website's information is hard to read or doesn't answer users' key questions, they leave. Note a pattern here? There's no such thing as a user reading a website manual or otherwise spending much time trying to figure out an interface.

Sometimes new and interesting interface concepts are cool, but most of the time they're pointless. I guess my opinion is that 99% of websites should have content, not interface, as their main point. And if you have a crazy weird interface, you shouldn't try to have content that competes with it. And 98% of web surfers are in the mood for content, not interface, so if you want visitors that's what you should shoot for.

That said, I failed at usability yesterday when I published my little community info search without really testing it on anyone. Several people in community_quest were mystified as to how to get the code, because I made the box title the link and figured they'd find it. They didn't. So I re-did the code today to add a little "get yours here" at the bottom. Testing things out on people is tough though! I make a new pretty thing, and I want the world to see it right now... sighs.

such is life.

Anyway... had a good day. worked a long time. am enjoying newfound workaholicism in a strange way... staying late is just so productive with no one around, it's not like working extra hours at the same job, it's quiet, like switching offices. have had recent success at home on quest to learn php without really learning it, too. things are coming together.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 25th, 2003 06:42 pm (UTC)
I agree with the idea of making websites easy to use. If I am looking for something specific and am not able to find it with out going through tons of links that I wouldn't expect it to be under I get frustrated fast. But then I don't spend much time going to different websites, so I figured other people would be able to find things easier. The one time that doesn't apply is for the just-for-fun-sites. Like when I look at my friend's pages. Then I just go there and see what they decided to put up.

As internet stupid as I am I could tell that the title was the link for the box you made.
Aug. 25th, 2003 07:13 pm (UTC)
I think the trick to usability though is realizing that you don't have to sacrifice that much of your personal style to "make it work" for 99% of internet users. That's why pages should work in all browsers, and why the opinions of the "internet stupids" are actually very important. Most people are in a higher percentile of computer savvyness than they think they are, I think. But they'll still see a site, think, "Oh, I'm too dumb to figure it out", and not say anything.

So you have to treasure those few people who felt dumb and went ahead and said something instead of just leaving, if that makes sense. Cater to the dumb, so to speak.

It's sort of a thing with me, if something of mine seems unclear to anyone, I'll fix it.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 26th, 2003 04:32 am (UTC)
yeah, it's just a site specifier and adding the words "community info" the query from the box. pretty simple.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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