Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A few notes from the web design & usability fronts

RT (retweet) webmaster_refRT @ilkeryoldas202 16 Best Web Design Galleries for Inspiration: (tinyurl translates to, btw)

Nielsen now says some drop-down menus ok – hurrah! Well, we knew they were behind the times. On the other hand, I’m behind the times – he prefers the double-width/extra large drop-downs – he calls them “mega-dropdowns”. (

So in looking at Nielsen, of course, I ended up browsing around again & though it's possible I’ve seen it before, I actually read through & highlighted sections of his: “Do Government Agencies and Non-Profits Get ROI From Usability?” (

(of course, that’s a rhetorical question… and the answer would be a resounding “YES!” But I’ll let you read through it in detail yourself…)

  • “We're currently running an eye-tracking study of the "About Us" pages for various charities, and we frequently hear users say that they don't feel like donating to a particular charity because the site doesn't present itself in a sufficiently credible manner.” (website credibility issue)

  • “Most users clicked on the top link, which is a typical response to an unclear set of choices.”

  • “The previous VA jobs page (above) had told job seekers to "simply" click on the "Agency Search" tab when they arrived on the "new" jobs page. Anytime you find yourself writing such instructions, you know you have a usability problem.”

  • “Notice that the site insists that users have "a special RIN Number," which appears nowhere on the printed renewal notice. The notice does have a "Renewal Identification Number," but not everyone is going to decipher the acronym therein.
    All experience shows that some users will be confused by the mismatched vocabulary, which violates one of the oldest usability guidelines: that of consistency.”

  • What about the many pages on government and non-profit websites that are purely informative? What's the value of improving the public information that organizations present? …”
    1. “Presumably, there's some value to the organization's activities…”
    2. “The value can be approximated by the budget…”
    3. “The organization's website, published reports, and other information thus have a value that should be greater than the money spent creating this information, or the organization is mismanaging its budget.”
    4. “Information has value only when it's being read and understood. In other words, the value we have imputed through steps 1-3 comes from having people read and understand the website.”
    5. “Website use typically doubles when the site is made easier to use. Our studies of simplifying online information show that user understanding increases substantially when websites are rewritten according to usability guidelines. Lower-literacy users should be particularly important to government agencies, given their mandate to serve all citizens. These users' understanding increases the most when content usability is improved.”

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