Online instructions can be a lot of things – tutorials, FAQs, troubleshooting manuals or user guides. Depending on the quality, they can be lifesavers or sources of major frustrations. These tips will help you write instructions that provides a better user experience for your users, which will save both them and you a lot of time and trouble.
After posting about Split Testing a few weeks ago, I found some very nice material about the implementation of Split Testing from the folks at Microsoft’s Experiment Platform. Be sure to check out the slides for a quick and excellent overview with good examples (a lot of interesting stuff about user feedback in there) and if you fancy some academic nitty-gritty, check out the paper as well. Both are excellent resources if you want some inspiration for your Split Testing.
AutoComplete is a really clever little feature that makes automatic suggestions based on previous entries in text fields of web forms. It has excellent browser support, being enabled by default in almost all modern browsers (including even *gasp* IE6+, yay!) . And best of all, it requires almost no effort on your part to make it work!
In this entry, I will cover the basics of enabling AutoComplete for your web forms (it is really simple, trust me) and also provide some examples on how it is used on the web, since following de-facto standards is what makes AutoComplete tick.
Split testing is a cheap and reliable way to test two or more versions of a design against each other and see how they perform under live conditions. When split testing you focus one or a couple of quantitative metrics (such as like revenue, number of completed sales or sign-ups) and use them to judge how each design performs. It is a great method if you want to try out an advertising campaign, a set of rewritten purchase instructions or a new sign-up process. Sure, the method has its flaws (which I will get to later) but it is still a great method for finetuning a web page that every web developer should have in her toolbox.
In this post I will be outlining the basics concepts and list the pros and cons of the two main methods for split testing – A/B Testing and Multivariate Testing.
If you get five usability designers (or usability experts or user experience directors or whatever they want to call themselves) and ask them to describe the meaning of the term user experience, you will probably get five different explanations. In this edition of A List Apart, Sharon Lee tackles the subject of user experience and its application for the web in her article “Human-to-Human design“. It’s an excellent read so be sure to check it out. I would like to share some of my thoughts on the subject with you and provide some good, concise examples of how the user experience mindset that Sharon wrote about can be and is already implemented on the web. Read the entire post…
Time to add some color.
I inspirationgoogled (a verb for the 21th century) for “color” and ended up on a site about color blindness. There I found an illustration for how people with Tritanope (absence of blue retinal receptors) see the colors of the rainbow – all different hues of baby blue and passion pink.
I thought it was kinda neat (even though it was clearly never intended as a color scheme) so that is why the blog currently looks like a battle between two infants with very gender-traditional parents. I’m a bit unsure if it is completely appropiate for the content but for now it will do.
I’m pretty happy with most of the generated code right now and will now start cranking out the css. Right now everything is default grey – perhaps subconsciously inspired by the weather outside my window? It is my own twist of Jason Santa Maria’s Grey Box Method for wireframing web sites, but I do my prototyping in XHTML+CSS instead of Photoshop (a horrible truth just hit me: this probably means that I’m more of a coder than a designer…).
Some design decisions taken along the way:
- Latest article featured – The latest post is probably the most interesting one for most visitors (guesswork obviously, have to back this up with usage statistics later) so it should receive the most screen real estate.
- No sidebar – Allows for nice readable width for the text and big pictures at the same time plus it allows for some cool design solutions, such as…
- Horizontal archives listing – A new approach to archives brought about by the decision of going with no sidebar. This will function more like the WordPress calendar than the regular, vertical archive list.
- About box, no About page – At the moment, I haven’t got enough stuff to write in the About section to warrant a whole page so a box should be enough for now
I thought I would follow-up my last post about game mechanics in social communities with a good (and well-known) example – Linkedin.
It’s all about collecting business connections and recommendations.
Two percentage progress bars display your profile and network completion, coupled with helpful hints on what to do to become a more “complete” Linkedin user. The statistical benefits of completing your profile are also described (this much more likely to become hired etc.).
Linkedin boasts an introduction system for getting in touch with users through other users and ability to ask your network a question and rewarding the best example with trophies (“Best answer in…-tags).
Pretty much everything on your profile can be customized contentwise and the controls for this are embedded into the profile instead of put on a separate “Preferences” page.
Growing and cultivating business connections can appearently feel like playing a game. Good work Linkedin!
I stumbled across this great presentation by Amy Jo Kim titled “Putting the Fun in Functional” where she describes five game mechanics that can be used when build social community sites:
I’ve had some thoughts along these lines myself, being the game addict that I am, but she makes a very structured and accessible presentation of a really interesting subject. If you are interested in this subject at all, this is a must read!