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Usability

  • Seven design trends for startups in 2011

    Adhering to good design principles is one of the fundamental tenets of success for any startup and the UX associated with the Beatles' initial launch on iTunes should give you a fair indication of what to look forward to in the foreseeable future. Following the current trend, while 2010 may have been the breeding ground for the idea that simpler web design is better, 2011 takes it one step forward by boldly declaring: Keep it simple, unique and creative. Long gone are the days when websites were purely consumer driven and used to drive revenue off advertising and over-emphasize on...

  • Google Instant Preview: What it means for site design

    Google Instant Preview is a relatively new feature on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). When a user hovers over a search result, Instant Preview displays a large image preview of the webpage that a search result will link to. It sounds simple, but it adds a whole new dimension of information for searchers deciding on what search result to click through to, and could have an immense impact on the way sites are designed from this point onward. The first big issue The demise of Flash gathers pace. Google Instant Preview does not currently support Flash, and replaces any...

  • A beginner’s guide to user testing

    User testing (UX) is a fundamental component of the web development process. It is conducted as a matter of course in the US, UK and other developed economies during the development of any large website. In emerging markets, the entire field of Usability is still relatively small, and user testing is infrequently conducted. It doesn’t have to be like this, and it shouldn’t be. Let’s begin by taking a look at the kind of situations that warrant user testing, and then some ways of going about it. Why test? To Plan User testing should first be employed in the planning...

  • Should you be using Seesmic Desktop 2?

    Seesmic Desktop 2 (SD2) is the new social media client on the block. It professes to be a desktop client from which "you can engage with various social media channels and accounts with power and ease". This article will look at three main areas of functionality to judge if it lives up to its promise. The Main Feeds Interface On first impressions the interface appears slick and minimal. Three tabs divide the functionality within the app into ‘All’, ‘Accounts’ and ‘Userlists’. Each of these tabs can be populated with the now expected social media feed columns, and there is a lot...

  • 5 tips on building a landing page you can be proud of

    So you’ve optimised your keywords to ensure your ad appears when people are looking for your product; you’ve ensured your ads are relevant both to the user’s query as well as to your business. Your click-through rates are increasing by the day. But so is your bounce rate and your conversions on site are simply not what they should be. Where’s the problem? Often, it’s the landing page. People can spend...

  • Four usability fails the iPad must get right

    The iPad is in many ways an iconic and revolutionary device, clearly filled with breathtaking potential. But despite the obvious beauty, hype and charm, it's important to keep a firm focus on some "usability fails" of the iPad if it is to fulfill its potential and become a major leap forward in personal computing. Here are four areas where the iPad needs work. Fail #1: Anything can be the UI Partly because of the touch interface, and partly because as a medium the iPad is fairly revolutionary, there are no strict rules and standards in place as to what the User Interface...

  • UX guru Andy Budd warns that websites ignore usability at their peril

    At the Tech4Africa conference in Johannesburg, Clearleft’s Andy Budd spoke at length about why, given the choice, users will always pick easier to use products over better architected products. Using real world examples, Budd explains how this principle should be applied to website design in order for websites to compete effectively. Decide whether you sell a product or an experience Using the coffee industry as an example, Budd spoke about the coffee farmer that makes around 1p for a cup of coffee while a gourmet coffee shop in London sells that same cup for upwards of £2.30 a cup. The...

  • Project war rooms: making the design process visible

    You’ve seen a war room in the movies – frowning generals sticking coloured pins onto a map. That stuff really happened, and for a good reason: when you’re invading another country, everyone has to know exactly what’s going on. Losing bits of important paper under your desk could cost lives. London's Churchill War Rooms , from where the British cabinet ran its WWII operations. A Flow project war room. Software projects are never quite that serious. But there are good reasons why you should have a war room for your project: Project stakeholders can see that something is happening. If it’s visible, people...

  • Sex & UX: Are you doing it right?

    You’re probably not aware that good user experience design and good usability are actually just like great sex. The conditions must be perfect, rhythm and timing are paramount, a bit of kink goes a long way, interruptions are a big no-no, and cuddle time can't be underestimated. Read on. The Conditions Must Be Perfect You know what time it is…that’s right…it’s business time. Just as with the beast with two backs, if you want a user to have an amazing experience on your website, if you want them to come again and again, and tell all their friends about you, then...

  • Five reasons why user experience thinking is essential

    User Experience (UX) analysis and design is a rapidly growing field for good reason. Websites, apps and services are placing a lot of focus on UX to differentiate themselves from competitors. To get a quick taste of how design can be informed by clever UX analysis and thinking, just compare MWEB's ADSL options and sign-up page, with that of Telkom's product offering page. Even (especially, perhaps) if you are not well-versed in web development and design, it is probably clear that the experience you will have when assessing product options and signing up as a customer will be superior...

  • Interview: UX guru Andy Budd on why most websites are ‘leaking buckets’

    User Experience (UX) guru, Andy Budd, says most of today's websites remind him of "leaking buckets". UX, he says, can plug these leaks to "catch people and keep them there". So using a UX designer is a small investment which could result in profit of millions. It's what supermarkets do so well and why they have an almost 100% conversion rate with customers. Budd says it’s because designers guide users through the experience of a supermarket. Memeburn.com stole a few moments with the British-based UX designer to find out more about why UX is important and to find out...

  • Measuring success: Is your website a hotel or a homeless shelter?

    For many inexperienced webmasters, the hallmark of a successful website lies in its popularity or the amount of 'hits' it gets every month. The apparent reasoning behind this fallacy is that if people are visiting the site it must be fulfilling its purpose. People wouldn't be wasting their time on something that doesn't work, right? Think of a website like a 'hotel'. The hotelier (or webmaster) tells you "3000 people slept here last night," and whilst that's an impressive figure, what he has failed to mention is that his 'hotel' is actually a poorly-funded homeless shelter, and it actually costs...

  • The importance of being seamless: From ‘marketing’ to ‘website’ in 3 easy steps

    Much has been written about online marketing, whether it is search engine marketing, social media or viral videos. Much of it is also written about on-site factors -- design, usability, conversion optimisation and so on. But, maybe more should be written about the journey that a user must make from the marketing they interact with to the final destination: the conversion page on the website. This journey must be as seamless as possible, lubricated with carefully strategised copy and design. The more seamless the journey, the higher the conversion rates. Step 1: The Arena Marketing materials have to exist somewhere. When...

  • 5 usability tips for landing pages

    First impressions count, especially online where your landing page is the battleground on which visitors and customers can be won and lost. You have a matter of seconds to make someone feel welcome enough to progress onwards through your website to where you really want them to be. The key theme that runs through each of these five points is: Don’t Make Them Think! Certain designs elements and styles are more cognitively taxing than others. Our brains are lazy, and prefer to do as little work as possible. These five tips will help you make you website a land...

  • Web forms: Get them right and make more money

    A web form is like a solid wall between you and your customer. The customer wants to buy your product. You want to sell your product. But in between there’s the form… and everyone hates filling in forms. Making your forms easier-to-use can have a dramatic effect on your company’s bottom line. Jared Spool has written about a form redesign that increased a company’s annual revenue by $300-million. At Flow Interactive we have seen as much as a 125% increase in conversion rates with better form design. And Google thinks form design projects will have a much larger return-on-investment (ROI)...