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Back to School: Design Usability

All of us have encountered websites that are painful to use. We know what doesn't work, and we might even have said "This site would work better if..." but how many of us have examined our own websites with these thoughts in mind? Maybe it's time for a fresh look. Eliana Stavrou takes you through the basic issues of design usability.

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By: Eliana Stavrou
Rating: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars / 19
January 05, 2005
  1. · Back to School: Design Usability
  2. · Usability principles
  3. · More usability principles
  4. · Evaluation Questionnaire

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Back to School: Design Usability - More usability principles
(Page 3 of 4 )

Error prevention

You think that your website is error-free? Think again. It is possible that you havenít considered every reasonable or unreasonable action a user might take. After all, users are sometimes unpredictable. Before it goes live, it is a good practice to ask a friend to navigate through your website, fill out forms, or do anything he or she can think of. In this way, you will see the userís perspective and find out if you could prevent a problem you did not foresee.    

Aesthetic and minimalist design

Remember that quality counts, not quantity. Donít make a Web page that people will freak out when they see it. Try to use colors and design elements in a way that makes your website aesthetically pleasant to customers. I have to admit that Iím a demanding customer. When I visit a Web page with black background and blue color text, for example, I leave!

Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors

Have you ever come across an error message that, instead of helping you find the problem and solve it, confused you even more? You really need to avoid such problems in your implementation. Error messages should be presented in language that the user can understand, and clearly indicate the problem. The following is an example to avoid:  

Help and documentation

How many times have you come across an application or website that made you dive for the help manual to find what you needed? If the help manual is absent and the user really needs it to continue using the application or site, then you just lost your user. In many cases we may not use the help manual at all, but its existence reassures the user that it will be there if and when it's needed.

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