Website Interaction and Usability:
Lessons to Learn, by Greg Tingle 24th March 2003
If the world resembled a website, chances are that
life would be pretty confusing.
for instance, would either be very long and narrow
with hardly any staff, or tiny booths with enormous
stock rooms - and hardly any staff. Others would look
great but be impossible to get around.
is the experience of many internet users, and the
internet starts to be a problem rather than a solution.
dotcommer boom was pitched as a revolution that would
leave behind the tired practices of the old world
and create something bright and fresh.
in the process it lost some of the good things about
the old world too, such as 50 years of research into
the best way for people to interact with gadgets,
be it a computer, mobile phone or slot machine.
results of this research are not always obvious. It
is quicker, for instance, to program a microwave to
heat food for one minute 11 seconds than it is for
one minute ten seconds.
about the reasons why can help designers streamline
pages, devices and functions.
of this work gives us the exciting gallery of websites
that we have today, many of which are created with
no goal other than to look flash.
fact that someone might actually want to use them,
or download the pages in a reasonable amount of time,
does not seem to have occurred to many creators.
agencies focussed on HTML (hyper text mark-up language)
know little about human-computer interaction.
design software packages let designers do almost anything
they want to is both a curse and a blessing.
fact that designers can do anything they want does
not mean that they should.
are many gurus of website design, among them Vincent
Flanders, who operates www.webpagesthatsuck.com
. His particular whinge is font that is too small
is also sick of websites that practise what he calls
"mystery meat navigation" which use images
on webpage buttons that give no clue as to where,
or what, they lead to.
many website makers only did research on how easy,
or difficult, a site was to use once it went live.
led to problems for early users who had to teach themselves
how to navigate around it, only to find later that
it had been altered.
companies are now use paper prototypes to find out
what works best before they start building their sites.
also ask potential users to carry out card sorting
exercises to see how they categorise and classify
the subjects on a website.
site adopting this sorting system will find it gives
users what they expect, rather than surprising and
is worth avoiding jargon; the functions of particular
buttons should not change between pages; and give
users an easy way to get back to the start.
should anticipate what people want to do and help
them do it.
click that people make is effectively a decision and
users will be reluctant to click if they either don't
know where it will lead them, or they have been overwhelmed
the future, bad websites will simply not get looked
as what was once revolutionary becomes mainstream,
more and more websites will become easier to use.
this article online at: Australia.Internet.com