Confusion around sorting and filtering lists

“… many of the participants [in a usability study] said, “I am filtering by price,” while manipulating [the] Sort By control. After observing this phenomenon numerous times, it became clear to me that this was not merely a matter of a simple confusion of terms between filtering and sorting. Instead, it revealed a strong mental model of filtering by sorting that blurred the difference between these two modes of search results’ refinement.”

Greg Nudelman: The Mystery of Filtering by Sorting

10 Killer Ways to Boost Your Site’s Usability

  1. Make the most important links large and easy to read.
  2. Create multiple access points to important content like subscription options.
  3. Eliminate unnecessary obstacles like captcha systems or mandatory logins.
  4. Move your advertisements so that they don’t get in the way of the content.
  5. Place a link to the home page on every page in case a user gets lost.
  6. Provide a clear and complete about page and contact page.
  7. Don’t clutter your sidebar with unnecessary links or widgets.
  8. Provide targeted content and links in the post footers.
  9. Use a large, comfortable font and provide space between each paragraph.
  10. Conduct simple, old-fashioned usability testing.

by Nicholas Z. Cardot

How to craft clear interfaces

For the user, the interface IS the product!

    ‘Usable’ is

  • not a compliment
  • not sexy
  • not very meaningful.
    Applications should

  • be clear
  • be easy
  • be fast
  • be fun
  • have a feelgood factor.
    Interaction designers should take care of three domains:

  • Screen
  • Flow
  • Language

Clarity rules! Focus on most important things; use three levels of emphasis: strong, normal, weak; have an opinion on what matters (emphasize by position, colour, size etc.) and what is less important (de-emphasize, fade back, put aside etc.).

Think about what 80% of people will be doing and facilitate this process; skip unnecessary clicks and steps; what’s next?

Interface design is copy-writing; data input and output is like a converstation, use appropriate style; long labels are ok if they are meaningful; Be explicit with actions (don’t use just ‘submit’)

Ryan Singer of 37signals at FOWD New York 2008 [Video]

Jacob Nielsen on Intranets

    Jacob Nielsen on Intranets:

  • When Intranet information architectures are structured according to the org chart, employees have a hard time finding their way around. It’s better to structure information according to how people use it, rather than what department owns it.
  • Role-based personalization lets portals bring information to users in centralized views, rather than forcing users to navigate an immense information space to find individual (and dispersed) locations.