Thursday, April 22, 2010


Embarrassing fact: the term “web usability” meant about well, nothing, to me a month or so ago

Remedy: as of today, “web usability” means a whole lot to me (and it's all sorts of interesting!)

A happy coincidence has found me in the Windy City this week for some work and a little bit of play. With my employer rather keen on professional development and my day-job involving a fair amount of website design and content creation, it was a given that the Nielsen Norman Group’s Web Usability Week Conference would be ideal for me in this time of (strictly work-related) transition (from our current website to our upcoming “spiffy” new site – keeping in mind that “spiffy” is relative).

One day in... consider me a happy customer. I couldn’t be more pleased after my day-long session. I learned so much and had fun doing so. And since we all find ourselves here, right now, on the web, I thought it’d be fun to share some tips that I gathered today during the “Fundamentals in Web Usability” session that might just apply to you (though, admittedly, if you do website design full-time, this will be old hat):

  • It turns out that users actually will scroll (beyond “the fold” – the first screen that you see on any given monitor)… but only a total of 2.3 pages worth.

  • Less is more! Cluttered (with the wrong images, content, etc.) websites just distract your user from what they came to do in the first place.

  • When writing content for a general audience, do so as if your users have the literacy level of an 8th grader (yes, I'm serious... and no, this doesn't have anything to do with the American education system).

  • Be consistent within your site, whether in link and text colors, placement of navigation on the page, etc.

  • You have a lot more flexibility (i.e. room for error) with a highly motivated or extremely loyal user; do not design with that user in mind.

Now that I've dispensed web design and usability guidelines here (amid this not-so-by-the-book-following-designed if-you-can-call-it-that blog), I will proceed to hide my head and never come out again... or at least not until tomorrow when I'll hopefully have some handy writing for the web tips (and with any luck, written in prose flowing like fine wine).

1 comment:

  1. Even the Wall Street Journal is written on an eighth-grade level, if I remember correctly. Sad, really. Hope you're having fun! Brad is jealous. He asks every year "When are we going to Chicago?"


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