Good Deeds in Web Design|
Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, October 3, 1999:
Web design, it is easy to identify a large number of mistakes that reduce usability:
It is much harder to say what good things to do since I have never seen a website
that was truly stellar with respect to usability. The best major site was probably
amazon.com as of late 1998, but during 1999 Amazon declined in usability due
to the strategy of blurring the site's focus.
Here's a list of ten additional design elements that will increase the usability
of virtually all sites:
your name and logo on every page and make the logo a link to the home page
(except on the home page itself, where the logo should not be a link: never
have a link that points right back to the current page).
search if the site has more than 100 pages.
straightforward and simple headlines and page titles that clearly explain
what the page is about and that will make sense when read out-of-context in
a search engine results listing.
the page to facilitate scanning and help users ignore large chunks of the
page in a single glance: for example, use grouping and subheadings to break
a long list into several smaller units.
of cramming everything about a product or topic into a single, infinite page,
use hypertext to structure the content space into a starting page that provides
an overview and several secondary pages that each focus on a specific topic.
The goal is to allow users to avoid wasting time on those subtopics that don't
- Use product
photos, but avoid cluttered and bloated product family pages with lots of
photos. Instead have a small photo on each of the individual product pages
and link the photo to one or more bigger ones that show as much detail as
users need. This varies depending on type of product. Some products may even
need zoomable or rotatable photos, but reserve all such advanced features
for the secondary pages. The primary product page must be fast and should
be limited to a thumbnail shot.
- Use relevance-enhanced
image reduction when preparing small photos and images: instead of simply
resizing the original image to a tiny and unreadable thumbnail, zoom in on
the most relevant detail and use a combination of cropping and resizing.
- Use link
titles to provide users with a preview of where each link will take them,
before they have clicked on it.
that all important pages are accessible for users with disabilities, especially
- Do the
same as everybody else: if most big websites do something in a certain way,
then follow along since users will expect things to work the same on your
site. Remember Jakob's Law of the Web User Experience: users spend most of
their time on other sites, so that's where they form their expectations for
how the Web works.
always test your design with real users as a reality check. People do things
in odd and unexpected ways, so even the most carefully planned project will
learn from usability testing.