Usability Clinic

Aug 10, 2005 • 8:24 pm | comments (3) by twitter | Filed Under Search Engine Strategies 2005 San Jose
 

Moderator Elisabeth Osmeloski

Site reviewers: Shari Thurow and Mathew Bailey

Came in fairly late…had to catch the rest of the exhibits in the expo before it closed. Sites are being analyzed for usability issues. Walked in on the discussion as the site actuate.com was being reviewed. Issues include using a drop down menu on top bar “tabs.” Shari feels that these bars can sometimes make people less satisfied, since they clicked on “Corporate” for example, in order to find out about corporate, they now have to make another choice. Instead , the sub-menu should be presented on the corporate “home page.” Recommends breadcrumbs in order to know where they are on the site. Someone in the audience mentioned that the use of capitals in the menus…

Tableandhome.com. Asked what the target audience is, and the owner wasn’t exactly sure. Drilled down to the toys>cool animal stuff>stuffed animals>sea life found “stop lights” and asked why? Those indicate in stock if green, legend is on bottom. Note that may be better to just put “in stock” instead of making the puzzle. Calls to action are good. “Add to registry” is excellent idea too. You can only buy one item at a time? The add to cart button at the bottom gives the choice of numbers. Once again something at the bottom that should be closer to top. If did a visual affordance test to find out what looks clickable, left nav bar doesn’t seem clickable. If you have to mousse over something to tell that it is a link, then it is NOT user friendly. Some pages seem better than others…the ones that have more info above the fold, primarily. Check out page. Should be using a 1, 2, 3, 4 idea to let people know what the process will be. Good thing is that first page doesn’t ask for personal info too soon. Shari noticed with a client that they had a large abandonment rate due to the fact that they asked for too much info right away instead of letting them place the order and then give payment info. Overall there is not enough color differentiation, which makes it difficult to see what is happening. Next stage in checkout asks for sign-in or create an account. Elisabeth asks the room how many people would leave now, and approx 90% raise their hands. This is bad because now you are asking them to go through all this stuff. The people were ready to buy, but no longer. Why do you have to enter info in order to find out shipping cost. The problem according to Shari is that the shipping does vary based on location. Shari feels that they need to hire a pro usability firm to analyze site using a heuristic process. Needs more color differentiation too. Landsend.com is Shari’s favorite example of a shopping cart page. Another point made by audience that once name and address is captured, the person should never have to fill that out during the rest of the process. ? Says people buy based on emotions, and if you make them stop to think, the feeling could go away. MPABS rule from Shari mentioned a couple of times: “Most people are basically stupid.” Remember this when working on usability.

Edgewisemedia, a Yahoo store site. Shop.store.yahoo.com/edwisemedia/index.html. Too many links. Good headings, not using the word products anywhere, which is something he likes. Shari recommends a three column layout, and feels that the products are not categorized as well as landsend, for example. No “Sony mini DV” heading on that page when drilled-down to, and also needs to use more keywords on page. That sales page also looks like the DV costs $290.00 since that is on the same line as “add to cart” and the rest of the sentence is the line prior (says 100 for 290.00.

Cisco-eagle.com Products page: categorize the products differently, the A through B idea makes it tough to navigate. People do nto search alphabetically. Usually people expect the products to be categorized. This would be a good candidate for a “card sort test” and a “reverse card sort.” This takes a while, but will be able to see how people would categorize your content based on one product per card. Detailed assistance on navigating is cool, but sounds a little ominous. Also, the “all” or “any” above the search button but well below the box is confusing. Needs breadcrumbs. No “mental model,” once again - bread crumbs make this much better. Navigation becomes difficult once in the shopping area…Shari says when she goes to the online catalog, she loses her “friggin ladder.” (laughs) Long term plan: find an commerce solution that is search-friendly.

Govisitcostarica.com. Google ads are too dominant. Distracting from calls to action of the site. This gives people four unique calls to action before they even see the content. They are off the site almost immediately. Need to get people to make a reservation, if that makes more money than the AdSense revenue. The comment made by the owner was he is having conversion issues. He then seems reluctant to want to move the AdSense. Shari says “that is the type of client that makes me crazy: ‘I am having conversion issues but I don’t want to change anything.’” Further…too many drop downs. Shari: “To put it politely, this is a navigation disaster.” Card sort and visual affordance test. Check and see if people click on drop downs in menu’s, if they do, keep them. Logo is nice, but the whole site needs potentially a few color changes. First fix nav, then determine what you want somebody to do, and call them to action.

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Comments:

Kim (cre8pc)

08/11/2005 07:14 pm

"Most people are basically stupid." How sad to hear this at a usability clinic :( They're not stupid. They're new to the site and learning it for the first time. What might be "stupid" is making it impossible or frustrating for them to perform a task and making them feel stupid. (sigh)

Mugshot

08/11/2005 11:30 pm

About the "stupid" comment. Should one expect users to immediately understand the site upon arrival? Is there not even a slight opportunity for a learning curve? A site cannot and will not be "usable" by 100% of your visitors (I don't think is can) from the day it launches. Isn't usability about minimizing the learning curve for web users?

Chris B

08/17/2005 08:12 pm

In regards to the "stupid" comment. I think that this may have been taken out of context when I blogged it. There wasn't enough time to ask or to explain what she meant by it, but what she was getting at is what mugshot is hinting at: keeping it simple helps everyone involved. I think that Shari was saying that designers should K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, stupid). You can contact Shari directly at her site with further questions, probably.

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