Here’s what I stumbled upon this week, on the web, about usability. The reviews are quite brief as this has been a crazy week for me.

  • Jakob Nielsen’s reports usability ROI decline(03/04/2008)
  • Yahoo Automates Usability Consulting (03/03/2008)
  • Study: Introductory Paragraphs and Tabs Don’t Aid Reading Comprehension Online (05/03/2008)
  • Measuring satisfaction: Beyond the usability questionnaire (03/03/2008)

Jakob Nielsen’s reports usability ROI decline

Jakob Nielsen reports that average the usability ROI of web sites declined from 135% (2002) to 83% (2008). Nielson gives a few explanations to the decline. Two of them are :

We have now harvested most of the low-hanging fruit from the truly horrible websites that dominated the lost decade of Web usability (approximately 1993–2003). In those early years, Web design was abominable — think splash screens, search that didn’t find anything, bloated graphics everywhere. The only good thing about these early designs was that they were so bad that it was easy for usability people to be heroes: even the smallest study would inevitably reveal several immense opportunities for improvement.

Via: Little Sprint Design

Yahoo Automates Usability Consulting

A recent Yahoo patent application lists usability factors a search engine could use to determine how usable a web page is. Why would Yahoo be interested in knowing? Quoting the authors of the document :

It can be important to make web pages easy and pleasing to use, which can be particularly important for web pages it is desired to monetize.

This may include, for example, advertisement-containing web pages (of a so-called “web portal,” for example), for which an advertiser pays money when a user views the web page and activates a link of the advertisement.

If such web pages are not easy and pleasing to use, the money-making potential of those web pages can be jeopardized. One conventional indication of whether a web page is easy and pleasing to use is called “clutter.”

I personally crave for a usability test engine to replace my old boring evaluation checklist. Next step would be a Google Analytics module that would analyze the browsing patterns.

Via: SEO by the SEA

Study: Introductory Paragraphs and Tabs Don’t Aid Reading Comprehension Online

A recent study by the University of Washington analyzes the impact of introductory paragraphs (presence of the paragraph, and presence of links in the paragraph), and tabbed navigation.

Cutting to the chase, users apparently like tabs, but introductory text might have no effect on comprehension. Anchored text is helps increasing comprehension — especially on how the concepts relate to each other — but decreases user satisfaction, especially when there’s no tabbed navigation present. I strongly encourage you to spend 5 minutes to read Faithful Web summary.
Via: Faithful Web

Measuring satisfaction: Beyond the usability questionnaire

David Travis from UserFocus describes the criticism-reluctancy problem in rational usability testing, and provides a method to overcome this problem.

This is very similar to a few focus group interview techniques used in marketing research, but applied to usability testing.

Via: UserFocus

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category Usability Friday 7 March 2008 Comment (1)

One Response :

  1. Mark Alves

    Thanks for mentioning my recap of the University of Washington study.

    I also appreciated that you pointed out the new article from Userfocus, which I might have missed otherwise. Their testing spreadsheet is a very handy tool.

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