Tag Archives: ux

Designing for users completely unfamiliar with computers

Following an article in which a 60-year-old man who had never used a computer was asked to locate a restaurant, Stack Exchange UX has a post on tips or guidelines for designing for such users: What are some best practices to follow when designing for users completely unfamiliar with computers?

There are a handful of ideas presented, such as:

Instead of saying “right click”, we might show a picture of the mouse with the right button highlighted, with a “clicking” animation indicating the action to be performed.

Makes sense, right? To someone who’s never used a computer, the term “right-click” isn’t really going to mean anything.

But I have a question.

Isn’t this kind of a waste of time?

How many people are there like this? It’s currently 2011. Half-way through 2011. Computers were introduced to the mainstream decades ago. Certainly not everyone is a tech guru, but computers aren’t exactly a rarity today. They’re everywhere. Most low-end cellphones today have more computing power than NASA had available to put a man on the moon.

While we should certainly consider the needs of people who are less familiar with computers than we nerds, and people who may have challenges – whether mental, visual, physical or otherwise – do we really need to go to the absolute base level of assuming they’ve never so much as used a mouse?

It strikes me that designers, developers, UX strategists and the like can make better use of their time than trying to accommodate the needs of a theoretical user that’s never once used a computer. We don’t put animated labels on car doors showing how to manipulate the handle – even if you’re not able to drive or have some sort of handicap, you can still figure out a door handle. Why are computers any different?

Obviously this is more of a rant than anything, and I fully expect to get some kind of flaming responses calling me insensitive or something. But really. The guy has never used a computer so we need to rethink UX?

How Fun is Your Website?

The core mechanic of pretty much any game is completing a set of tasks in order to achieve a reward. A website already has half of this in place in that every site has a set of tasks that they would love their users to take. This is often called a call to action. What most websites are missing is the other half of the mechanic: a reward for the end user when they successfully take the call to action.

How Fun is Your Website?

Except that I’m not visiting most websites to have fun. I’m visiting them to get information and/or accomplish a task. If I’m on the site for American Airlines, I just want to find flight schedules and costs. There’s no expectation of, or need for, “rewards.” It’s silly. There is, however, an expectation that the information I’m seeking will be available, accurate, and actionable.

There’s no web-based reward for me booking my flight. The reward is the company confirming that my flight has actually been booked, at the correct time, for the correct price, and providing me proof of this.

The “game” concept of websites is going too far lately, I think. Focus less on the “game” experience and more on actually providing usefulness to your users, please.

Notes from the September mkeUX meetup: Search

Last night’s mkeUX was all about search – both SEO and paid search. Ross Monaghan and Jordon Meyer were great presenters and obviously have the background to back up their claims (and, after having a drink with the guys beforehand, not such bad guys in general). Twitter is a pretty good place to follow the action — search the hashtag #mkeUX — but I took some notes along the way, presented here for your amusement.

Ross Monaghan — “SEO & UX. WTF?”

Accessibility! There are already search engine optimization standards established by companies and groups like Google and the W3C. They’re designed to help you make sure your content is accessible. So… use them!

Search engines are essentially heavily disabled users. They have extremely limited ability to process Javascript, they can’t see your images, they won’t watch your Flash, and they won’t listen to your audio. If you don’t provide alternate means of consuming this content, it’s essentially invisible to search. The same goes for things that require user interaction – dropdown forms, etc. Search engines won’t jump through the hoops that human users may be willing to tolerate.

Keep it clean!

Keeping your URLs clean and human-friendly, and making good use of canonical URLs, will go a long way toward improving your search engine performance. Excessive use of querystring parameters, or extensive tagging without proper compensating techniques like using robots.txt to exclude “tag overview” pages, will inevitably start to dilute the value of the other links throughout your site. So be careful how you implement those “features.”

If I can read your page and immediately tell you what keywords you’re targeting, you’re doing it wrong.

Architecture. Sometimes you have to take a step back and ask yourself (or your client), “Why the hell are we building this website to begin with?” If there’s no clear answer, STOP. If there is a clear answer, then… great! Now what? You need to ensure a consistent and reliable strategy — taxonomies, structure, labeling, and organizational themes.

Jordon Meyer — “Paid Search Usability”

Paid search gets a bad rap.

— Jordan

In 2009, Google got $23 billion in revenue selling paid search ads and had 37 billion clicks on those ads. However, only around 2% of those clicks ever turned into an actual conversion. 98% of the ads ended up meaning absolutely nothing. Why? (Possible answer: people just distrust paid search results?)

Five opportunities to lose customers:

  • Irrelevant keywords – buying every conceivable keyword just in hopes of getting someone to click? Bad!
  • Misleading copy – “office chairs under $50!” when none of your office chairs are under $100
  • Generic keywords
  • Poor choice of destination – don’t send every click to your homepage! Take into account what the user is searching for, why they clicked, and where they expect to land.
  • Low quality of destination – if you have no calls to action, too much (or not enough) copy, high load times, etc… people will leave. And they may not come back.

You got the click to your site, now do something with it! Standards exist and evolve for a reason. Use them to your advantage.