|calling all Australian web
The Sydney Morning
The organisers of a conference on web design
are encouraging web designers to focus on usability rather than
See PDF attachment below.
Australian Web designers.pdf
gadget firms tackled on usability
BBC News [15/5/2006]
Technology firms are being targeted in a bid
to make hardware and software easier to use for everyone. The
initiative, backed by disability charities and big firms like
BT, aims to make hi-tech firms take usability more seriously.
They want to get companies thinking about how to make goods and
services easy to use while design work is done. Firms signing
up will be expected to make big changes to all the things they
do that customers encounter.
See attached PDF below.
Gadget firms tackled
government sites fail web tests
BBC News [30/3/2006]
Some 60% of UK government websites contain HTML
errors, according to a study by the University of Southampton.
A similar proportion do not comply with guidelines created to
improve web access.
See attached PDF below.
government sites fail
IT drives wedge between workers
A lack of user-friendly technology in the marketplace
is exacerbating a digital divide in the workforce between those
who can use technology effectively and those who can't and is
likely to provoke a backlash among users, according to a new Technology
Predictions for 2007 report from consultancy Deloitte, released
poor usability marks for Australian banking
The Sydney Morning
Four of Australia's largest banks have received
the thumbs down in a review of their online banking systems with
the ANZ emerging as "the best of a bad bunch".
The study, conducted by US research group Forrester,
found that illegible text, poor layouts and missing information
were just some of the major design flaws that forced customers
to turn to more expensive call centres and branches, or even to
seek out alternative offerings from competitors.
"Each of the major banks could save more
than $7 million a year by making their sites easier to use,"
the researcher said.
To come up with its findings, Forrester applied
an international website review methodology to the ANZ, CBA, NAB
and Westpac websites.
The methodology has been created over seven
years and results are based on findings from two individual analysts
who independently test a number of criteria including content,
page layout, navigation, formatting, interactivity, help functions,
security and overall performance.
Each of the banks needed to score a minimum
of 25 out of 50 points to pass the review and meet best practice
ratings. Instead they achieved scores of between -4 and -12.
To test out the sites, reviewers acted on advice
from each of the banks that researching home loans and credit
card deals were the top two reasons for visits to public areas
on their websites. However when they set about the task of finding
out about these products on each of the sites, they encountered
some serious obstacles.
Presentation was cited in the report as being
the most common shortcoming of the websites, all of which were
hampered either by illegible text, missing content or poor page
Forrester said Westpac scored the lowest in
this category with -9 out of a possible 18 points.
"To effectively use its [Westpac's] site,
users need the dexterity of a 15-year-old to accurately use the
rollover menus, a magnifying glass to read the text, and a lot
of patience to made through the material," the report said.
The other banks scored an equal of -4 each in
this area and the NAB site's layout was criticised for being especially
hard to scan.
Each of the banking websites was also marred
by serious design flaws including buried content, site errors
and over-reliance on rollover menus, which can cause "misfires",
CBA scored the lowest at -4 in this category
because its home page gave no indication that visitors could actually
research and apply for a credit card or home loan online, and
it was also missing important data such as key credit card fees.
Since people will only spend an average of eight
seconds looking at a page, it's critical to make an impact with
the home page to convert prospects online," the report said.
ANZ on the other hand, made its customers click
through five pages before they could even get started on a home
loan application after attempts to apply directly from the home
loan page failed.
On a more positive note, providing feedback
on users' actions and helping them recover from errors, proved
to be the strongest elements of the websites, and both CBA and
NAB were praised for allowing users to save some online applications
for later completion.
Westpac was deemed the most robust of all the
sites with no minor or major errors experienced and swift page
downloads, earning it a 7 out of 12 ranking that matched global
best practise standards.
However the report concluded that it was ANZ's
value-added calculators that set it ahead of its competitors.
"Impressively, its site goes out of its
way with user friendly calculators to help visitors understand
and choose the most appropriate ANZ Bank product for their needs,"
It advised the banks to address their shortcomings
by embracing a "design-centric culture" and learning
from international peers such as http://www.bankofamerica.com,
which uses a tab system to present rates and fees without clutter.
the ten most violated homepage design guidelines
Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox [10/11/2003]
A bit dated, but Jakob Nielsen remains the usability
guru. Here he presents ten usability mistakes that he says about
two-thirds of corporate websites make - including sites with significant
investment in usable design.
See attached PDF below.
Ten Most Violated Homepage
top ten mistakes in web design
Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox [updated 2004]
Author's summary: The ten most egregious offenses
against users. Web design disasters and HTML horrors are legion,
though many usability atrocities are less common than they used
to be. Since my first attempt in 1996, I have compiled many top-10
lists of the biggest mistakes in Web design. This article presents
the highlights: the very worst mistakes of Web design.
See attached PDF below.
Top Ten Mistakes in Web
translating the web: web site development for
an Asian audience
The UPA Voice [December 2006]
By: Jacqueline Sinex
In all aspects of marketing, the Eastern world
is breaking through to the West. More and more businesses are
expanding product lines and services into a new market that involves
countries in East Asia. Whether a business forms an alliance with
a Chinese company to use its resources for a project, or it sells
directly to Japanese consumers, it is clear that key media materials
should be appropriate for Asian audiences.
usability is in the details
Peter Abrahams: IT-Director.com [18/8/2006]
The usability, and also the accessibility, of a system can be
greatly improved by small changes to the detail of the user interface.
I have realised this when comparing my response to very similar
looking websites. In particular I use the Royal Bank of Scotland
on-line personal digital banking service and some of the details
of design make my experience attractive and stress free. Based
on examples from this site I have tried to create some general
examples of good practice.
An on-line banking system is about putting information
in and getting limited amounts of information out. It requires
filling out forms of varying complexity and so is a keyboard-intensive
type of activity and my preference in this environment is to keep
my hands on the keyboard and not to have to use the mouse. For
me this improves the user experience, however for people with
visual or motor impairments it may mean the difference between
a site that is practical to use and one that is just too hard.
So what details make this easier for me?
The first screen is obviously a log on screen, which requires
a userid to be typed in. Where should the cursor be when I first
open this page? In the entry field of course; but so many sites
have the cursor in its default position at the top left of the
screen and before you enter any information you either have to
cursor through various menu items or use the mouse.
Having typed in the userid what do you want
to do? Hit enter and go to the next screen of the logon; but many
sites either force you to cursor to the ¡¥next¡¦
button or click on it.
The next step of logging on is putting in some
of the letters of your password. The site randomly requests, say
the first, third and ninth letter of the password. This is obviously
more secure than asking for the whole of the password, but it
is more difficult for the user unless the page is well set out.
Some sites I have seen ask all three questions together and then
have one field for all of them to be entered; this can cause problems
for people with dyslexia and also screen reader users. The RBS
screen has each question on a separate line with an entry box
for a single character. The cursor is automatically positioned
at the first entry field and when an entry is made jumps to the
next (with a screen reader each question is read out at the right
Interestingly I have been playing with a screen
reader and find that for this activity I react faster to the question
being read out aloud than I do to reading the question myself.
Navigating around a well structured website is normally easy with
a mouse, you just click on the required link. Navigating without
a mouse can be much more tedious as the main method is to use
the tab key. The tab key takes you from one link to the next,
unfortunately in nearly all sites the actually content of the
page is at the end of the tab order. Some sites have added help
for screen readers by having the first links hidden (so they do
not appear on the screen) but they do get read aloud by the reader.
These links say things such as ¡¥skip to menus¡¦
or ¡¥skip to content¡¦ so the blind user
can skip straight to what they need to use. If you are a savvy
user who can read the links in the status bar you can work out
that this is happening and take advantage of the short cuts but
it is a bit hit and miss. The RBS site has a better answer¡Xif
you tab to these links a pop up window tells you what it does
so that it becomes easily usable by people who can see.
When entering transactions there is always more
than one screen so after the first screen there is a ¡¥back¡¦
button as well as a ¡¥next¡¦ button. The
obvious positioning is that the ¡¥back¡¦
button should be on the left of the screen and the ¡¥next¡¦
on the right. The problem with this is that the natural tendency
is for tabbing to go left to right, so when you tab out of the
last entry field you go to the ¡¥back¡¦
button, which is generally not what you want. RBS have again got
this right by swapping the tab order so that the ¡¥next¡¦
button comes first.
Some people may think that this is all too detailed, but my experience
suggests that small detailed changes can make a real difference
to the user experience and that can make a real difference to
the loyalty of the users.
I would like to thank RBS for the examples I
I would be very interested to hear, from developers
or users, of similar details that have been put into other user
websites face four-second cut-off
BBC NEWS [09/11/2006]
Shoppers are likely to abandon a website if
it takes longer than four seconds to load, a survey suggests.
The research by Akamai revealed users' dwindling
patience with websites that take time to show up.
It found 75% of the 1,058 people asked would
not return to websites that took longer than four seconds to load.
The time it took a site to appear on screen
came second to high prices and shipping costs in the list of shoppers'
pet-hates, the research revealed.
Akamai consulted those who shop regularly online
to find out what they like and dislike about e-tailing sites.
About half of mature net-shoppers - who have been buying online
for more than two years or who spend more than $1,500 (¢G788)
a year online - ranked page-loading time as a priority.
It found that one-third of those questioned
abandon sites that take time to load, are hard to navigate or
take too long to handle the checkout process.
The four-second threshold is half the time previous
research, conducted during the early days of the web-shopping
boom, suggested that shoppers would wait for a site to finish
To make matters worse, the research found that
the experience shoppers have on a retail site colours their entire
view of the company behind it.
About 30% of those responding said they formed
a "negative perception" of a company with a badly put-together
site or would tell their family and friends about their experiences.
Further research by Akamai found that almost
half of the online stores in the list of the top 500 US shopping
sites take longer than the four-second threshold to finish loading.
The survey questioned 1,058 net shoppers during
the first six months of 2006.
why change hurts
Samar Farah: CIO
Change hurts. That¡¦s not a metaphorical
statement. Change¡Xthe hope of all innovative corporate
leaders¡Xinduces a physiological reaction in the brain that
results in stress, discomfort and pain.
Scientists have known that for years. The news, according to UCLA
research psychiatrist Jeffrey M. Schwartz and leadership guru
David Rock, is that by focusing attention on certain insights
and ideas, humans¡Xand even large, inertia-anguished companies¡Xcan
combat this physical resistance to change.
When a person¡¦s expectations are
challenged, the brain fires a distress signal. But say an employee
comes up with a way to cope with a new demand. Then the Aha!¡Xthe
moment of insight¡Xcreates enough positive energy in the
brain to counter the negative feelings about change. In leadership
lingo, if employees are going to embrace change, they need to
A leader's role, according to
Rock, is to help facilitate insight across the organization. But
that's not all. Individual brains are shaped by
behavior. That means that in the long run, leaders who make a
habit out of change can undo the hardwiring that causes brains
to fight it. "If you can create in your organization a powerful
expectation of change, then you can begin to create a counterbalance
to these physiological reactions," Schwartz says.
The Rock and Schwartz approach has implications
for time-honored leadership techniques:
- Incentives - carrots and sticks - are
ineffective at an individual level.
- Sharing your own solutions and insights
with employees has limited influence on their behavior.
- Constructive criticism tends to focus
too heavily on problems.
Instead, Rock recommends "constructive
creationism": asking employees how they might develop new,
improved habits and how you can help them.
"Once you learn these principles, any other
way of communicating is annoying," says Rock. "You can
see when you're fighting the brain instead of harnessing