User Experience 2004, AmsterdamNielsenNormanGroup User Experience 2004 – Trip Report

Amsterdam, Nov 1-3, 2004

Contents

Web Usability Guidelines Revisited

Jakob Nielsen, talk at Main Event, Nov 3, 2004

Abstract

Ten years have passed since we ran our first Web usability studies in 1994. The Web is now 10,000 times bigger, technology has advanced, users have adapted, and designers know more about which designs actually work. What do these changes mean for Web usability guidelines?

To find out, we conducted a major new series of user research projects that tested how people use individual websites and the Web as a whole, and which design mistakes cause the most problems in today's environment. Nielsen will review 34 of his early guidelines and tell you which ones still hold and which are ready for modification. He'll also reveal data showing the percentage of user failures caused by different categories of design mistakes. Finally, he'll report on five design strategies that proved particularly successful in supporting the way people use websites.

In addition to illustrating his talk with many video clips showing user behavior from the Web 2004 project, Nielsen will answer the frequently asked questions: How many users scroll? How many users search?

Some notes and highlights

*** Guidelines that are still high-impact problems (after 10 years):

  • Links don’t change color when visited
  • Breaking the back button
  • Opening new browser windows
  • Pop-up windows
  • Looking like an advertisement
  • Violating web-wide conventions
  • Vaporous content, non-specific hype
  • Dense content, non-scannable text

There are three reason why problems are less severe than they used to be 10 years ago.

  1. Technology improvements
  2. Behavioral change in users; e.g. adaptions
  3. Designers showing more restraint in use

1. Technology improvements

** Guidelines that are medium severe due to technology improvements:

  • Flash
  • Low-relevancy search listings
  • Frozen layout instead of liquid layout

* Guidelines that are minor issues due to technology improvements:

  • Download time
  • Frames
  • Multimedia, long videos

2. Behavioral change in users; e.g. adaptions

** Guidelines that are medium severe due to behavioral adaptions of the users:

  • Not scrolling, not seeing below the fold
  • Complex URLs (they can break in emails)

* Guidelines that are minor issues due to behavioral adaptions of the users:

  • Not knowing what’s clickable
  • Registration
  • Pull-down menus, cascading menus

Guideline that is no longer a problem due to behavioral adaptions of the users:

  • Blue links

3. Designers showing more restraint in use

** Guidelines that are medium severe due to designers showing restraint:

  • Non-standard GUI widgets
  • Outdated information
  • Consistency within a given website
  • Premature requests for personal information
  • Having a single site, not splitting up

* Guidelines that are minor issues due to designers showing restraint:

  • Plug-ins, bleeding-edge technology
  • 3D
  • Bloated design, overwhelming users
  • Splash pages
  • Moving graphics, scrolling text
  • Not disclosing who’s behind the information
  • Made-up words

Guideline that is no longer a problem due to designers showing restraint:

  • Orphan pages

*** New Guideline

  • Plug-in Icons
    • Some people don’t know what the icons mean
    • People tend to click on the plug-in icon instead of the actual link.
      • Icons look like a button
      • More prominent than surrounding links
      • Multimedia options are meaningless
    • People get routed to the plug-in site