Tag Archive for 'Usability'

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Reading and scanning on the web are not the same thing

Users read left-to-right. Users scan top-to-bottom. This is why it makes sense to left-justify menu labels (list items) and headings.

Jakob Nielsen

Web app personality is essential

Software is media today, particularly consumer software. When people use it [your software] they approach it in the same way they would approach media. When I say media I’m talking about a magazine, or a newspaper, or a TV show.

When you think about The New York Times vs. The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair vs. Vogue, or Fox News vs. CNN: each of these media properties have a voice; they have an attitude; they have a style, and it’s unique, and it’s different.

Mozilla Drumbeat festival: ‘Learning is learning, and learning is good.’

Drumbeat – Mozilla’s flagship festival focusing on net-neutrality, openness, and freedom of learning and expression – begins today in Barcelona, Spain. After spending an evening scoping out the scheduled events, workshops, and folks involved, here are some of my MASSIVELY cool highlights and things to watch out for in 2011:

Universal Subtitles

I was impressed to hear Robin Christopherson, Head of Accessibility Services at AbilityNet, sing the praises of YouTube’s auto-captioning tool at FOWD 2010 earlier this year. Mozilla‘s new open source tool – Universal Subtitles – aims to help translate even more videos into a format capable of being easily consumed by deaf and hard of hearing users, as well as ensuring that popular search engines – like Google – can access and archive important video content for years to come. View a video introduction to the new Universal Subtitles tool in all its HTML5 glory.

All you need to know about web typography in two posts

I hand these links over to other designers and developers time, after time, after time:

  1. http://24ways.org/2006/compose-to-a-vertical-rhythm
  2. http://www.markboulton.co.uk/journal/comments/five-simple-steps-to-better-typography-part-4

Essentially they contain all you need to know about web typography. Timeless articles.

99 (CSS) problems, but liquid ain’t one

Experiments with liquid CSS layouts

Experiments with liquid CSS layouts

We all know liquid is important, right? (Doctors recommend 1.5-3 litres per day :P)

Some of you may have been fooled into thinking liquid and elastic layouts died as soon as browsers deployed native zoom a few years back. I’ll assume you understand – with a fair degree of knowledge – the technical and usability ramifications of implementing fixed-width, liquid, and elastic web layouts. If not, then the following should briefly clear the haze:

Fixed-width layout

Dimensions have a fixed-width pixel (px) measurement.

Responsive Web Design

http://www.alistapart.com/articles/responsive-web-design/

The fold: 5% of users’ total time is spent past the 2,000-pixel mark

Even though 5% of users’ total time is spent past the 2,000-pixel mark, they tend to scan information that far from the top fairly superficially: some pages are very long (often 4,000+ pixels in my sample), and thus this 5% of user attention is spread very thinly. In our study, user viewing time was distributed as follows:

  • Above the fold: 80.3%
  • Below the fold: 19.7%

We used an eye tracker with a resolution of 1,024 × 768 pixels. These days, many users have somewhat bigger screens, and we’ve conducted many (non-ET) usability studies with larger resolutions. Although using a bigger monitor wouldn’t change my conclusions, it would somewhat increase the percentage of user attention spent above the fold simply because more info would be available in the initially viewable space.

Form input labels with (HTML5) placeholder attributes

Update 16/12/2010

I used this jQuery placeholder plugin to do the job today and it worked nicely.

The new HTML5 specification introduces the form input placeholder attribute, which allows us to define a hint to help users fill out input fields. If you’re using a WebKit-based browser right now you should find working examples of the new input placeholder in use on this page.

Working with form elements, especially labels, can present a dilemma for many…

What the 80/20 Rule Tells Us about Reducing HTTP Requests

Most performance optimization today are made on the parts that generate the HTML document (apache, C++, databases, etc.), but those parts only contribute to about 20% of the user’s response time. It’s better to focus on optimizing the parts that contribute to the other 80%.

Yahoo! Interface Blog

What have you been reading recently?

A selection of books I’ve been enjoying recently:

'Universal Principles of Design' is THE BIBLE.

'Universal Principles of Design' is THE BIBLE.

Attention

Have any recommendations of your own? Drop them in the comments. The tenth insightful comment wins my pristine second copy of Handcrafted CSS by Dan Cederholm and Ethan Marcotte (great book BTW)!