Tag Archives: User Experience

Web design trends come and go the same way like fashion. With businesses and individuals wanting to look better at the eyes of their audiences, many websites change the way their websites look on regular intervals while incorporating new functionality.

The most recent facelift has taken place on Gmail and other sign in pages of Google products.

If you don’t remember, this is how Gmail looked earlier.

The trend today for web layouts is clean and uncluttered. It makes a lot of sense when you consider the information overflow that we are seeing today across many platforms and media.

Research shows that most people scan web pages before settling on an element for further exploration. Therefore, a lot of emphasis is put on optimizing important web elements that a webmaster wants to promote. However, this is a hit or miss thing. Your audiences may like or hate your user interface (UI) elements depending on their preferences, gender, etc. This is not an easy thing to overcome and on top of that, getting UI elements right is a huge affair. Have you ever heard of the $300 million button? If not, that article should be the first thing for you to read after reading this.

One of the biggest challenges in web usability is keeping people on a web page. The balance has to be perfect on content, usability and interactive elements. At the best of times, this is a tough task. Since it is very challenging to strike a good balance, what most designers tend to do is crowd too many elements on a web page. This leads to a web page that looks very busy. A busy web page is not one of the best places for conversions.

The new way of design thinking is driven by wanting to make a website look simple. This involves a lot of things. For example, some web pages have multiple objectives to achieve. In such instances, ‘simple web process’ calls for re-evaluating and prioritizing these objectives. The design process is driven by these re-evaluated objectives.

The Gmail sign in page is a perfect example for the ‘simple web process’. When you compare the two layouts it’s perfectly clear that Google evaluated what’s important for their audiences. In fact, the number of elements on the page has increased; yet it’s hardly noticeable. A good design should be like that. People have to see it only when they want to see it. This design philosophy is something that’s going to drive our web design work in the future. :)

If there are any websites that you like, share those on the comments section. We’d love to see those websites you like and get your feedback.

With Google’s Matt Cutts admitting that Google is using website speed as a minor ranking factor, there had been quite some noise about page speed among the web design community. Now with the latest stats positively showing the page speed as not so significant as many believed it to be, can it actually affect a website negatively?

Not considering any SEO implications, page speed is an extremely important web usability element. Consider the following example originally published on Master New Media .

Gaze plots from two different users: The blue dots indicate where users looked (one fixation per dot).
  • Screen 1 – The first test participant in the top gaze plot fixated a few times within the big empty color block before the content downloaded, then spent the remaining time looking at the rest of the page. This user never looked at the big promotional space after it had rendered.
  • Screen 2- The second user (bottom gaze plot) happened to be looking away from the screen during the eight seconds when the promotional content downloaded. Thus, the first time he looked at the page he saw it as intended, complete with the entire promo.

The slideshow occupies 23% of the page and the user who had to endure the download delay spent only 1% of her total viewing time within this space.

In contrast, the user who in effect received instantaneous page rendering (because he didn’t look until it was done), spent 20% of his viewing time within the slideshow area.

So in essence if the page speed has been optimized, the marketing team would have seen some more traction with their well planned advertisement. But in this case, all that effort was spent in vain.

The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to website speed is “let the audience be in control”. Remember, it’s the audience who interact with the website and it’s them that matters to you or your client. Every second of delay in website speed is a negative impact on the audience and lead them to realize that they are no longer in control. In such case, you or your clients are going to lose credibility which is not helpful at all.

So it might be a good idea to start looking at page speed. There are many free tools to check speed. We use a Firefox plugin called ‘Yslow’. Google is going one step ahead and offering a Page Speed tool for free http://code.google.com/speed/page-speed/

Check out this video from the Google dev team.

 

The South Florida User Experience Group will be celebrating its two year anniversary this month.  This meet-up will be a good mixer for all the new people who have joined the South Florida User Experience Group in the last few months. Attendees are welcome to bring any site to put in front of the group and open it up for comments and suggestions.

This month’s presentation will be on remote automated testing: How to do it, what the benefits are, popular tools etc. This is going to be a great tool for anyone who works freelance or designs websites on their own. Testing can be an invaluable method for inspection into your sites usability. To do this, there will also be a demo of the Loop11 software, a great product for remote automated testing. The Loop11 competition will be launched while the meet-up and the details of the prize worth $1750 will be revealed as well!

Where

Panera Bread
1762 North Federal Hwy
Ft. Lauderdale FL 33305
954-567-5925

When

Thursday, April 29, 2010 7:00 PM

Meet others interested in all aspects of User Experience. Gather to discuss industry standards, Information Architecture, Usability, Interaction Design, deliverables, user testing, user research and more. As well as discussions about upcoming conferences, good books, education, and industry leaders. Open to anyone interested in learning more about user experience!

For more information please visit this page.