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Web Usability Bloopers: Let's Hear Your Favorites!

Brain Katz approaches my desk – smiling lightly, shaking his head in disbelief. I know what this means: He's come across a woefully unusable website and is dying to share it with me...

"Go ahead. Make my day."

He does. This time, it's www.oakley.com. The sunglasses people. Here is Oakley's home page:


ConceptFeedback.com: New Expert Reviews Make a Great Service Even Better

"You're doing it WRONG!"

Earlier this year, I posted a review of ConceptFeedback.com. I noted that it was a great place to get free advice on the viability of your concepts, design quality, etc. (Here's my former review .)

It's still a great place to get free advice from community members. But the site owners have added a new paid service, in which you get in-depth reviews from bona fide experts.

You can have your site reviewed by up to five experts in any or all of these three categories:

  1. Design. Typography, layout, imagery, aesthetics... how visitors see your site.
  2. [More]

Verify: Low Cost Usability Testing Done Right

I just love it finding new user experience testing tools. And I especially like ones that are simple, fast, affordable, versatile, and provide actionable data.

Verify is just such a tool. And unlike tools that are limited to live websites, Verify can be used to test and compare mockups.

Here are the types of tests you can run:

Click Test

In this test, users are asked where they'd click on an upcoming screenshot, then shown the page. The system records where and how quickly they clicked. (Results are returned as a heatmap.) A great test for determining whether your call to action is prominent enough.


Online Dating: Why the User Experience Sucks... And Where the Future Lies

The term "online dating" is misleading. On existing dating sites (LavaLife, Plenty of Fish, Match.com, etc) you don't date online at all. Rather, you search and email (and possibly IM) online. The date, if it happens at all, takes place in the real world... and is usually unsuccessful.*

The problem is, you simply can't know whether you're compatible with someone until you've actually met and shared some experiences. Yet online dating sites don't allow you to share experiences online. Rather, they simply grant you access to a database.

The Current (Pathetic) State of Online Dating

Dating sites gather basic data and allow users to sort potential matches by criteria such as:


Jakob Nielsen Agrees: Alphabetical Sorting Rarely Works

Jakob Nielsen just posted that "Alphabetical sorting must (mostly) die". I was happy to see this, as it backs up my earlier plea to "Let users sort by meaningful criteria".

As Nielsen points out, where users know exactly what they're looking for (e.g. their country or state), alphabetical systems make sense.*

But for the most part, alphabetical systems are just the result of lazy development. It's the easiest system to implement, so it's done. Never mind that for users, it's frustrating.

What are the ideal sorting criteria?

The ideal sorting criteria will vary tremendously, depending on the nature of your products. Think how the relevant filtering/sorting criteria would vary between products like:


User Testing of Websites: Leave Your Agenda at Home

I recently reviewed some videos of user testing sessions. I was shocked to see the moderator repeatedly break one of the most fundamental (and common-sense) rules of website usability testing: Don't lead subjects through the tasks.

In this case, the moderator consistently gave the subjects hints. For example, he'd ask, "How would you sort products by price?" A sensible question, perhaps. Except that prominent on the page was a menu labeled "Sort by..." And one of the menu options was "Price".

How could anyone not complete this task?


Persuasive Web Design, Part 13: Fostering Commitment Via Written Public Statements

Persuading customers to take action is one thing. Creating loyal fans — turning customers into committed advocates for our products — is something else.

How do we get lifetime customers? Customers who not only use our products, but feel passionate about them. Customers who can't imagine using your competitors' products... and love to tell their friends?


Persuasive Web Design, Part 11: Three Levels of Trust

In a 2006 study*, Elizabeth Sillence suggested that there are actually three levels of trust.

According to this model, the three levels of trust are as follows:

1. First Impressions and Heuristic Analysis

The first step is a rapid screening of the website, and typically involves factors for rejection:


Persuasive Web Design, Part 10: Using Images of Common People

Months ago, I wrote a post on the importance of looking and acting like your target group. I suggested that in your website's imagery, it's best to avoid using models or celebrities; better to stick with "real people".

Today I'd like to expand on this rule, and discuss where to make exceptions.


The Usability Mindset, Part 4: "Self-Explanatory" is Not Good Enough

The crux of this post is so simple that I wrestled with whether it was too obvious to be a blog topic. But then I thought back to some of the heated discussions I've had with web designers over the years... and remembered that it's not so obvious after all.

The principle is the central tenet of Steve Krug's excellent usability primer, "Don't Make Me Think!" And it deserves repeating, as it's a core concept in web usability. Here it is:


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