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How to improve
website usability
Main findings & conclusions
from the MOU seminar
Ivana Doulgerof
Management Organisation Unit
Programming & Communication Unit
INFORM meeting, 27/11/2008
Why we organised the seminar
 Effective O.P. websites
• Design a new portal on NSRF
- with appealing & quality content
- according to the “new” media format
How we organised the seminar
• Usability “gurus”
• Target group: MOU + 38 special services
(120 information + IT officers)
• 3 days - 3 subjects:
– Writing for the web
– Web usability
– Intranet usability
• Planning a website
• Content - information architecture
• Design - useful tips
Source: Norman Nielsen Group
–User Testing
–Eye tracking
–Field Studies
–Diary Studies
–Scoring tasks
Planning a website (1)
– Define your audience / target
group & their goals
– Consider the users’ needs &
balance business and users’
Write for the audience
Planning a website (2)
Always plan the site on paper
Organise / categorise content
Editorial team / content manager
Processes for content review
Content style guidelines
• Concise
• Scannable
• Objective
• Crystal clear
Write, rewrite, edit, proofread,
test with users
Writing for the web (1)
• Time is currency, users do not read, they scan.
– scannable headings / subheadings (they need to
tell the story ) / summaries
– bulleted lists
– white space, large fonts / possibility to resize
– relevant links which look like links with correct
– inverted pyramid for text body (important things at
the beginning)
– short texts = readable
Less is more
Writing for the web (2)
Users read in an Fshaped pattern.
Rule of twos – First 2:
– words
– lines
– paragraphs
1st sentence of the paragraph
must contain the main idea Important words first
Writing for the web (3)
• Simplified writing, less formal, no dialects,
no jargon.
– avoid acronyms, abbreviations, teasers,
– use active voice
– put statements into positive form
– use conventional spelling / words
– be careful with humour
Write content for a 13 year-old child
The designer has to understand the website.
• Apply consistent elements & templates
• Follow standards
• Ensure text legibility
• Avoid many navigation bars / cascading menus
• Provide graphics & other media content
• Avoid banners (banner blindness)
The site is not your art project
Design: guiding the user
• Help, on line documentation, signposts
• Filtering (drilling down approach, progressive
• Suggestion links
• Human contact information (physical address,
tel.) / help desk
• Space targeted to the media
• Reliable search facilities / searchable
Useful tools should be in a prominent position,
don’t hide them
Other findings / tips
• Don’t open new browser windows (except for
PDF, emails, applets)
• Don’t break the “back button”
• Don’t immediately request “log in”
• Installing software may cause stress to the user
& break their workflow
• Collect data: statistic ratings, user feedback
Users want to be in control
Enhance credibility
• Professional, usable design and content
• More objective style, not “marketese”
• Associate with something trusted (i.e. projects,
best practices, real users’ experience, contact
area, photos of employees)
• Supporting evidence
• Update regularly / Change the homepage every
3 years
• Maintain the site at all times
• Register the site / promote
Template 1
Template 2
Our future actions
• Apply recommendations on existing sites
• Create style guidelines
• Design portal according to web guidelines
• Test website usability
• Organise new usability seminars
Thank you
for your attention
[email protected]