Web site usability

De Klerk, W. A.(Willem Abraham) (2001-03)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2001.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: A multitude of factors affects the experience of the user on a specific site. Slow downloading, navigational difficulties and complex designs all play a role in destroying what could be an enjoyable experience to the user. Usability exists when the design of the system matches what the intended end users need and want. Most Web site designers agree that great design essentially has the user as its priority. Companies tend to forget that the user's hand is on the mouse. The most successful Web sites are those that not only respond to user feedback, but actively seek it out. We have to realise that the cost of flipping to another Web site is so low, it doesn't make any sense for people to go back to a site that failed them the first time. Most Web sites fail miserably at their prime directive: usability. The best way to run a user test is one-on-one, writes Fleming (1998:1). You don't need a large quantity of users for the tests to be effective. The costs in user testing are often exaggerated and there is no excuse for not performing some sort of user test on your Web site. When a page comes up Jakob Nielsen says, people look only one place, in the middle, at the content. (Head, 1999:2) If a page does not appear relevant to the user's current goals, then the user will ruthlessly click the Back button after as little as two to three seconds. Users rarely look at logos, mission statements, slogans, or any other elements they consider fluff. Usability is practically guaranteed if you have a solid information architecture at the outset. Make sure information is not more than two clicks away from the homepage. (Radosevich, 1997:3) According to the GVU7 survey, speed is the number one complaint of Web users (76,5 %). (Hamilton, 1997:1) Since users need web pages to load quickly, you should make your image files small. Try to limit the size of individual images to 5k, and try to limit the total size of all the images on any single page to 20k. Generally, a user with a 28.8 modem should have a sense of the page content or be able to navigate off the page within 10 seconds of download. The rest of the page should load within the next 30 seconds. Any site needs a good search feature since even the best navigation support will never be enough. (Nielsen, 1996a: 1) A search function should be provided if the site has more than 100 pages. Even if you haven't created perfect navigation, at least be consistent. (Berst, 1998: 1) The Back button is the lifeline of the Web user and the second-most used navigation feature (after following hypertext links). People rarely read web pages word by word - they scan pages to find the information they want. Make the text scannable with bulleted lists, highlighted keywords, meaningful headings, and short sections of text. The essential purpose of graphics, especially animated graphics, is to set the tone and communicate the company's personality in a unique and fun way. (Heath, 1997:1)

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: 'n Menigte faktore beïnvloed die gebruiker se ondervinding van 'n spesifieke Webblad. Aflaai spoed, navigasie en komplekse bladontwerp kan almal 'n gebruiker se belewenis van 'n Webblad verongeluk. Bruikbaarheid (Usability) bestaan wanneer die ontwerp van die sisteem voldoen aan die behoeftes van die eindgebruiker. Web ontwerpers het dit eens dat goeie ontwerp die gebruiker se behoeftes as prioriteit sien. Maatskappye vergeet dikwels dat die gebruiker se hand die muis beheer. Die mees suksesvolle Webblaaie is nie net die wat reageer op verbruiker terugvoer nie maar dit selfs aanmoedig. Ons moet verstaan dat dit so maklik is om na 'n volgende Webblad te spring dat dit nie sin maak om terug te keer na 'n Webblad wat jou eenkeer in die steek gelaat het nie. Die meeste Webblaaie misluk tragies in hul poging tot bruikbaarheid. Die beste gebruikerstoets metode is een-tot-een, skryf Heming (1998: 1) Die toets lewer betekenisvolle resultate selfs met enkele gebruikers. Nielsen sê gebruikers stel deesdae net in inligting belang. Indien inligting irrelevant voorkom sal die gebruiker nie skroom om die "Back" sleutel te gebruik nie. Gebruikers kyk selde na logos, missie stellings en slagspreuke en beskou dit as onbenullighede. Maak seker dat inligting nie meer as twee klikke vanaf die tuisblad is me. (Radosevich, 1997:3) Die GVU7 studie het bevestig dat aflaaispoed die gebruikers se grootste beswaar is.(Hamilton, 1997: 1) Enige Webblad benodig 'n goeie soek ("search") funksie veral as die Webwerf meer as 100 bladsye het. Die "back" sleutel is die reddingslyn van die gebruiker en die tweede mees gebruikte sleutel op navigasiestelsel. Gebruikers lees selde woord vir woord wat voor hulle staan, maar skandeer eerder 'n blad. Hou dus teks kort, met kort sinsnedes en kort kragtige begrippe. Grafieke se hoofdoel is om Webblad atmosfeer op unieke wyse te skep.(Heath,1997:1)

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