Usability Overview

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Usability Overview

Kept these Principles in Mind

Usability has many details but the overall principles should be kept in mind at all times. Their interpretation is usually obvious in most contexts – but not always!

Know what you are trying to do – what is the Unique Sales Proposition (USP) that you are trying to sell on this site?

You had better believe that I will not buy from you unless I trust you – or the risk to me is very low.

Of course the KISS principle always applies – Keep it simple! TOC

Think Like a User!

You are designing your site so your prospects can use it – not you!

Try to make your mind go blank – not so hard, eh? – and role play as a customer. TOC

Don’t make Me Think!

Your prospect is looking for a solution to a challenge they have – find me the best or cheapest whatever now!

They are not looking for a litle intellectual game – they can play chess, bridge or Sudoku for that! TOC

Direct and to the Point!

Use direct language – if wanted to play puzzles I would go to the Trivial Pursuit club.

Make sure your tag-line is there in or by the banner. Does it convey your USP – Unique Sales Proposition?

Keep the language level down.

If your product is technical make it clear that a given page is addressed to a technical audience and not a simple surfer. Call it Product Specifications or something similar. TOC

Users may not Know what You Know!

You are an expert in your field! Your customers are not – that is why they come to you to buy!

Hierachial data organisation assumes that the user is familiar with the clasifications – they know that a dolphin is a mammal and not a fish.

So they may not know that the creature they saw in the sea was not a fish. Why does your site not have anything about Dolphins on it? It’s got snapper and tuna on it. I clicked on Fish! What a dumb site!

You will usually need a simple content search and some FAQs. TOC

Stick with What they already Know!

Don’t invent new words for what they already know. If applicable use the common terms for: Home; About Us, Contact Us, Site Map; Search; Register; Submit; Cancel; Site Policies; etc.

Keep navigation to top or left; testimonials and advertisements on the right.

Remember basic HCI (or is that CHI) stuff!

Remember how our ability to line up things visually is amazing. Think of the accuracy of top billiard players or target shooters.

Think left to right – we take alignment from the left – use left justified as a basic. 

We are used to scanning down columns – keep them distinct.

Our eyes can read so much without moving – about 10cm at normal desktop screen distance – not the full width of the screen.

Movement is distracting when we are trying to read – do we want to distract our users from our own content – or do we want to just annoy them? TOC

Confirm that I am Right (Again)!

Whenever I do something confirm that I got that right.

If I click make it obvious that something happened.

If I submitted a form show me that my newly-keyed data has been captured.

Make sure that there is nowhere where I can click and nothing happens (if it has the hand mouse-over). TOC

Tell me what to do next.

Whenever I do sonething suggest what I should do next. Show me my choices; show me the most usual next step for someone who has just done what I just did; show me it is ok to go back to the main menu, Home or Search. TOC

Can I do those standard things anytime or whenever?

Can I do Top, Back, Home, Print, Save, Email, WebMaster, Site Policies, Contact Us – Now, from Here? TOC

Don’t mess me around!

Don’t ask me to put it in my shopping cart when I have not yet seen the price. Show prices early in the dialogue.

Give me a clear path to technical details about more complex products. Show More . . . or “Specifications” or “Fact Sheet”.

But if I know about the product don’t force me to detail I already know or don’t need to know. TOC

Don’t ask for my personal details too early.

Don’t ask for my name and address details too early. Wait until I have made a decision.

But I will give you my email addressif it is worth it – so always provide a good reason to give you just my email address. What have I put at risk by giving you my address and is the prize worth it?

Send me a useful white paper or nice summary of info in this domain or a gift certificate for my first purchase – but PR garbage will annoy me! TOC

Stay with the Conventions.

Stay with the conventions. Do not use underscore for anything but links. Stay with links being blue if not used but purple if used. Is our average surfer past this now? TOC

We all make mistakes!

We evolved to spot the tiger in the jungle – we recognise his stripes – they tell us it is a tiger – we do not remember the pattern of the stripes.

So you will make mistakes – ALWAYS get some-else to read over your work.

But your user also makes mistakes – and sometimes does not read your Help text. Can they readily correct their mistakes and get back on track to ordering your product? TOC


Remember this acronym means – Keep It Simple, STUPID! TOC

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