Over the next months, I want to distill UX guiding principles we can use on most projects.
Here is a bookmark to an article.
Here’s an important one:
- Acknowledge that the user is not like you
The Research-Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines
Here’s a nice resource from A List Apart on Usability of Forms: http://www.alistapart.com/articles/sensibleforms
Sections in the article cover:
- Use the right field for the task
- Give them room to type
- Shorten your forms and question “mandatory” fields
- Mark mandatory fields clearly
- Provide descriptive labels for all of your fields
- Let the computer, not the user, handle information formatting
- Use informative error messages
- Don’t return users to an altered form
Also: care should be taken to design forms for a logical path when tabbing from field to field. I thought this practice was gone, until I requested an account on the Trek to Talloire site yesterday. The fields took me from “Home Address” to “Email Address” to “Town/City” to “Confirm Email Address”.
There’s a couple of really good mobile pattern resources on the web:
- Thanks to IXDA for this thread -
I have no idea if Kindles are part of the Tufts landscape, but as we think of mobile, this column offers an interesting insight.
Nielsen’s recommendation: Serve the mobile version for kindles (7-inch) instead of the standard website version.
Sounds like iPad (10-inch) and up get the website version.
At our last meeting, Thom Cox, and Kate Bronstad from the Tisch library and Heather Klish from University Library Technology Services (ULTS), shared insights using card sorting to get user feedback on the redesign of the Tisch library website.
- 1hr sessions with individual participants (so far: 5 students, 3 faculty)
- 1 session leader, 1 note taker
- They used 35 cards, which seemed to be a good amount. Participants didn’t feel overwhelmed, and good information came out of each session
- For their purpose, they found “open card sort” worked better than a “closed card sort”.
- Participants could rename labels / annotate. Cards could also be left out.
- Warm up exercise to help them to think about it
Some of the take-aways of card sort:
- Helps rethink “content strategy”
- The value of card sort is to derive “User Stories”, to help discover paths through information based on different types of users.
- Current site reflects organizational structure. Not helpful to users.
- Users want to access resources, not a gateway to resources
- Assumption that the search box on the site can search all content/resources
Findings we can apply to other sites. (I might be going out on a limb here, but this is in line with other studies I did)
- Keep language simple, conversational.
- Specialized terms don’t always resonate with users (ex: “collections”)
- Make content scannable.
- Simplicity, white space
- Don’t seek full consensus. Lose being effective.
The team also conducted Ethnographic studies: http://www.library.tufts.edu/tisch/staff/webTeam/ethno/index.html
See a description of card sort here.
Card sorting is a user-centered design method for increasing a system’s findability. The process involves sorting a series of cards, each labeled with a piece of content or functionality, into groups that make sense to users or participants.
From Jakob’s Neilsen’s Alerbox, March 19, 2000
Some people think that usability is very costly and complex and that user tests should be reserved for the rare web design project with a huge budget and a lavish time schedule. Not true. Elaborate usability tests are a waste of resources. The best results come from testing no more than 5 users and running as many small tests as you can afford.
Thank you to all who participated in the kick off meeting for the UIT UCD affinity group.
If you would like to be invited to future meetings, please let me know!
Best, Mélanie St.James