Web UsabilityArticles & Videos

  • Popup Problems

    Popups and many kinds of modal dialogs are often intrusive user interface elements that get in the way of users' goals and cause annoyance. Here are some of the worst popup UX sins.

  • User-Experience Quiz: 2020 UX Year in Review

    Test your usability knowledge by taking our quiz. All questions and answers are based on articles published last year.

  • UX Guidelines for Augmented-Reality Shopping Tools

    Ecommerce AR tools are relatively new, so must be highly discoverable and easy to learn. Calibration issues run rampant, and users must dedicate focused attention to interact with this unfamiliar feature.

  • Faculty Pages on University Websites Persuade Prospective Students

    User research with prospective university students, ranging from kids still in high school to Ph.D. level grad students, found that they really want to know about the professors they'll be learning from, so when visiting university websites, these users (and their parents) scrutinized the faculty pages.

  • Information Scent

    Information foraging explains how users behave on the web and why they click certain links and not others. Information scent can be used to analyze how people assess a link and the page context surrounding the link to judge what's on the other end of the link.

  • Augmented Reality for Ecommerce: Is It Useful Yet?

    Augmented reality is an exciting technology, but the experience of using it is underwhelming, which hurts its overall perception of helpfulness.

  • Opening Links in New Browser Windows and Tabs

    Carefully examine the user’s context, task at hand, and next steps when deciding whether to open links to documents and external sites in the same or a new browser tab.

  • Jakob's Law of Internet User Experience

    What are the shortcomings of following Jakob's Law of Internet UX (which states that "users spend most of their time on other sites")?

  • Mask Interaction Delays with Progress Indicators

    In case of slow response times in a user interface, indicate that the wait time will soon be over by showing an animation. For longer delays use a percent-done indicator.

  • PDF: Still Unfit for Human Consumption, 20 Years Later

    Research spanning 20 years proves PDFs are problematic for online reading. Yet they’re still prevalent and users continue to get lost in them. They’re unpleasant to read and navigate and remain unfit for digital-content display.

  • Changes in Important Information-Seeking Behavior on the Internet Over 22 Years

    We studied the most important activities users perform on the internet, repeating an old classic study. Users' most critical behaviors have shifted substantially over 22 years, due to more information available online and the constant presence of mobile devices.

  • Better Forms Through Visual Organization

    如何组织和制定你的表单字段和their labels to make data entry easier for users.

  • Avoid PDF for On-Screen Reading

    Forcing users to browse PDF files causes frustration and slow task completion, compared to standard webpages. Use PDF only for documents that users will print. In those cases, following 10 basic guidelines will minimize usability problems.

  • Biggest Wins and Fails in 25 Years of UX Columns

    From 1995 to 2001 Jakob Nielsen wrote 250 articles with early usability insights that are still true but also contained predictions for aspirational changes that didn’t happen.

  • The Need for Speed, 23 Years Later

    尽管互联网速度的增加,网页上speeds have not improved over time.

  • Listboxes vs. Dropdown Lists

    Listboxes and dropdowns are compact UI controls that allow users to select options. Listboxes expose options right away and support multi-selection while dropdowns require a click to see options and support only single-selection.

  • Passive Information Acquisition on the Increase

    People increasingly discover critical information online without actively searching for it, but such information has poor context and may have credibility issues.

  • Risk of Copying Famous Companies' Designs

    If a website or company is big and famous, should you copy their design for your own site? Likely not, because good UX depends on context, and your situation could be quite different than a world-famous company's circumstances.

  • Stop Counting Clicks: The 3 Click Rule is Nonsense

    Users want to do the least amount of work possible to get to a desired web page. However, "work" is the sum of difficulty presented by each click and not the number of clicks in itself. Here are some tips for making a path easier to navigate.

  • Website Design in High-Context Cultures like China

    The contrast between low-context and high-context cultures has substantial implications for web designs that target users in different countries. Examples from eyetracking research in China (a high-context culture) illustrate this point.

  • Popup Problems

    Popups and many kinds of modal dialogs are often intrusive user interface elements that get in the way of users' goals and cause annoyance. Here are some of the worst popup UX sins.

  • Faculty Pages on University Websites Persuade Prospective Students

    User research with prospective university students, ranging from kids still in high school to Ph.D. level grad students, found that they really want to know about the professors they'll be learning from, so when visiting university websites, these users (and their parents) scrutinized the faculty pages.

  • Information Scent

    Information foraging explains how users behave on the web and why they click certain links and not others. Information scent can be used to analyze how people assess a link and the page context surrounding the link to judge what's on the other end of the link.

  • Jakob's Law of Internet User Experience

    What are the shortcomings of following Jakob's Law of Internet UX (which states that "users spend most of their time on other sites")?

  • Mask Interaction Delays with Progress Indicators

    In case of slow response times in a user interface, indicate that the wait time will soon be over by showing an animation. For longer delays use a percent-done indicator.

  • Changes in Important Information-Seeking Behavior on the Internet Over 22 Years

    We studied the most important activities users perform on the internet, repeating an old classic study. Users' most critical behaviors have shifted substantially over 22 years, due to more information available online and the constant presence of mobile devices.

  • Better Forms Through Visual Organization

    如何组织和制定你的表单字段和their labels to make data entry easier for users.

  • Risk of Copying Famous Companies' Designs

    If a website or company is big and famous, should you copy their design for your own site? Likely not, because good UX depends on context, and your situation could be quite different than a world-famous company's circumstances.

  • Stop Counting Clicks: The 3 Click Rule is Nonsense

    Users want to do the least amount of work possible to get to a desired web page. However, "work" is the sum of difficulty presented by each click and not the number of clicks in itself. Here are some tips for making a path easier to navigate.

  • Website Design in High-Context Cultures like China

    The contrast between low-context and high-context cultures has substantial implications for web designs that target users in different countries. Examples from eyetracking research in China (a high-context culture) illustrate this point.

  • Marking Required Fields in Online Forms

    Do you need to mark fields as "required" in forms on your website or in apps? What if all fields are required? And what is the best way to show that a form field is required?

  • Why Didn't People Scroll? The Illusion of Completeness

    In testing, we often see users who don't scroll a web page even though there is much useful info below the fold. Often, the reason is "the illusion of completeness" which causes users to believe that they are seeing all there is.

  • Better Labels for Website Links: the 4 Ss for Encouraging Clicks

    4 guidelines for writing the link texts on websites to ensure users click the right options. Links should be Specific, Sincere, Substantial, and Succinct.

  • The 3 Response Time Limits in Interaction Design

    User interfaces must be fast, or users will give up. (In the case of websites, they'll leave if pages download too slowly.) The exact maximum response times vary by usage circumstances, and should be either 0.1, 1.0, or 10 seconds.

  • Placeholders in Form Fields are Harmful

    网站上的数据输入表单字段是至关重要的ecommerce and many other applications. Fields need labels and (sometimes) instructions, but placing this text inside the field lowers usability and accessibility and should be avoided.

  • Designing Effective Carousels for Websites and Mobile Apps

    Sliding hero images that rotate through a set of promotions, news, or the like on the top of web pages are often annoying to users and are definitely error prone, unless they are designed according to usability guidelines.

  • Do People Scroll? What Information Foraging Says

    People scroll down web pages only if they have reasons to do so. Information-foraging theory explains for how long people stay on the page and why.

  • Usability Heuristic 1: Visibility of System Status

    No. 1 of the top 10 UX design heuristics is to provide visibility of system status through proper feedback, so that the user knows how commands are being interpreted and what the computer is up to at any time.

  • Why You Should Use a Grid for Designing Layouts

    Grids are a great framework to help designers quickly put together a clean, well-aligned interface, and help users to easily scan, read, and use those interfaces.

  • Designing Search Suggestions

    Useful search suggestions lead to relevant results and are visually distinct from the query text. (This is about how to design the search feature on your own website, whether it's an ecommerce site or not.)

  • Cancel vs Close: Design to Distinguish the Difference

    Distinguishing between these two actions is critical to avoiding losing users’ work. Save changes before closing a view, use text labels rather than an X icon, and provide a confirmation dialog before destructive actions.

  • Popups: 10 Problematic Trends and Alternatives

    Whether modal or not, most overlays appear at the wrong time, interrupt users during critical tasks, use poor language, and contribute to user disorientation.

  • Store Finders: Why People Still Need Locator Links

    In addition to a site-wide store-locator link, location-finder links in key areas anticipate users’ needs and make it easy to find a physical location within the context of their task.

  • Marking Required Fields in Forms

    Using an asterisk to mark required fields is an easy way to improve the usability of your forms. Only marking optional fields makes it difficult for people to fill out the form.

  • Teenager’s UX: Designing for Teens

    Teens are (over)confident in their web abilities, but they perform worse than adults. Lower reading levels, impatience, and undeveloped research skills reduce teens’ task success and require simple, relatable sites.

  • Footers 101: Design Patterns and When to Use Each

    Footers can be found at the bottom of almost every web page, and often take many forms, depending on the type of content on a website. Regardless of the form they take, their presence is critical (and highly underrated).

  • The User Experience of Customer-Service Chat: 20 Guidelines

    Chat is hard to find on many websites; it is often inefficiently designed and supplies too superficial information.

  • User-Experience Quiz: 2018 UX Year in Review

    Test your UX knowledge by taking our quiz. All questions and answers are based on articles that we published last year.

  • Store Finders and Locators

    Finding addresses and location information on company websites has gotten dramatically easier, but users increasingly turn to search engines or native map apps first for this task.

  • UX Guidelines for Ecommerce Homepages, Category Pages, and Product Listing Pages

    Streamline users’ path to products by providing clear, differentiating product information at all levels — from the homepage to product listing pages.

  • Customer-Service Information on Websites: The Hub-and-Spoke Model

    Websites structure and deliver customer-service information in many different ways. We recommend a model for standardized delivery of this content online.

  • Intelligent Assistants Have Poor Usability: A User Study of Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri

    Both voice-only and screen-based intelligent assistants work well only for very limited, simple queries that have fairly simple, short answers.

  • Visibility of System Status (Usability Heuristic #1)

    Communicating the current state allows users to feel in control of the system, take appropriate actions to reach their goal, and ultimately trust the brand.

  • Working Memory and External Memory

    Human working memory holds information relevant to the current task; a physical or virtual external memory can help in tasks with a high working-memory burden.

  • Scrolling and Attention

    People scroll vertically more than they used to, but new eyetracking data shows that they will still look more above the page fold than below it.

  • User-Experience Quiz: 2017 UX Year in Review

    Test your UX knowledge by taking our quiz. All questions and answers are based on articles that we published last year.

  • Zigzag Image–Text Layouts Make Scanning Less Efficient

    In two-column layouts, vertically aligned images support efficient scanning better than images that alternate placement with text.

  • Horizontal Attention Leans Left

    Users spend 80% of the viewing time on the left half of the page vs. 20% on the right half. Standard designs will maximize user efficiency and company profits.

  • Back-to-Top Button Design Guidelines

    9 UX指南回到顶部链接,帮助你sers navigate to the top of long pages. Depending on users’ needs, other techniques may be more appropriate on some sites.

  • "Get Started" Stops Users

    A generic Get Started call-to-action attracts clicks, but also misleads users and acts as a roadblock for those looking to get information about the company.