Importance of Web Usability
unlabeled navigation icons you have to mouse-over to get a clue,
as opposed to navigation bars/buttons with symbols can be very annoying.
What are these mystery icons?
First we should
define the term "icons". They are the small pictorial
symbols used on computer menus, windows, and screens. They represent
certain capabilities of the system and can be animated to bring
forth these capabilities for use by the user. It is a synomyn for
any small visual symbol. A good example is the "trash can/bin"
on the desktop.
are used to help the user work smarter, quicker and with ease of
use. It also saves space. A well designed icon says much
in the area of a few pixels. We also, by human nature, recall visually
encoded concepts better than verbally encoded concepts. They are
Icons can even
make a site "global". In that I mean, few words are common
to very many languages, but many visual symbols are, such as the
"no smoking" icon of the picture of the lit cigarette
with a red slash through it.
use of color is also important, and we must observe cultural
conventions when designing icons. Red signifies stop in many cultures
(including the United States). It prohibits action. Don't use red
as a color on a button or link that you want people to click. It
will confuse them. "Should I stop or should I go ahead and
on the other hand, are useful ways to help people navigate
on your website. A metaphor's definition is "a figure of speech
in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object
or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy
other techniques to work, you'll have a site with a user experience
that provides a substantial lead and competitive advantage over
a majority of your competitors:
Buyers Feel Comfortable
Some users are still afraid of shopping online. You have to reduce
their risk if you want them to spend money.
Users to the Goods
If users can't find the products you're selling, then, they won't
be able to buy them.
It Easy to Complete a Purchase
Once users start the buying process, make it easy for them to complete
It's cheaper and easier to have customers return than it is to find
speed so your site loads quickly
Your customers’ time is important. Making speedy access is
an important consideration.
UI design predictable and consistent
Surprises are not welcome on the Web. Inconsistency leads to confusion.
It may bore you to see all of the pages in a section of your site
look the same, but your users will appreciate it. Keep the size,
shape, and position of important elements constant through out a
site or section. If your buttons appear on more than one page, make
sure they function the same way everywhere
The direction of text flow is another natural restraint.
Roman letter text is read in a definite and documented pattern from
top left to right center to lower left to lower right. In text and
image layout, take advantage of your culture's natural conventions.
is one happy conclusion from the fact that most websites are bad
and that users spend most of their time and money at the 10% good
relatively easy to succeed on the Web because most of your competitors
are clueless. In the physical world, it is difficult for large
companies to give good customer service since most of their staff
is unqualified. In contrast, on the Web, good service is a small
matter of programming and can scale to ever more customers and
of web usability may be complex, but it's also well worth the effort.
Remember that you're helping people to accomplish goals —
whether those are finding information, purchasing a book, talking
with friends, or learning a new language. If you can build a website
that supports your users, you will ultimately reap the benefits
in terms of sales, hits, user loyalty, or whatever your personal
definition of success may be.
to beginning of article
by Jakob Nielsen
Sutherland, Copyright © 2003
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