10 Usability Tips Based on Research and Studies

We heard many tips and techniques of usability and user experience of countless sources. Many of which we take seriously have sound logic, but it is even more true when we find actual data and reports to support their theories and conjectures.

This article discusses the results of usability according to research, such as visual tracking studies, reports, analyzes and surveys of user experience related to web usability. You will find that many of these tips are just common sense usability, but are also compatible with numbers; however, some might surprise you and change your perspective on your current design processes.

1 Forget the “Rule of Three Clicks”click-to-completion      

The idea that users are frustrated if they have to click more than three times to find a piece of content on your website has been broadcast for years. In 2001, Jeffrey Zeldman, a recognized authority in the web design industry, wrote that the three click rule “can help you create sites with intuitive, logical hierarchical structures” in his book, Taking your Talent to the Web.

Logically, it makes sense. Of course, users will be frustrated if you spend a lot of time clicking around to find what they need.

But why the arbitrary limit of three clicks? Is there any indication that Internet users suddenly dén up if it takes three clicks to get to what they want?

In fact, most users will give up just because you have hit the magic number. The number of clicks you have to do, is not related to user frustration.

A study by Joshua Porter published in User Interface Engineering found that users are no more likely to fail to resign after three clicks compared to a higher number like 12 clicks. “Almost no one gave up after three clicks,” Porter said.

The goal, then, should not be to reduce the number of clicks to reach some magic number, but the ease of use. If you can build a user interface that is easy and pleasant to use, but it takes like 15 clicks (for example, 5 times more than the rule of three click) to achieve a particular task – do not let the arbitrary rule of three clicks stop you.

2 Facilitate reading content with an F-shaped pattern

Dr. Jakob Nielsen, a pioneer in the field of user experience, conducted a study of eye tracking in the reading habits of Internet users that included more than 230 participants. What the study showed was that research participants showed an F-shaped pattern when they looked through the web content.


A similar study conducted by search marketing firms Enquiro and Did-it in collaboration with the research firm Eyetools visual tracking, observed a similar result pages of the search engine Google assessed with a follow-up pattern eye, which included 50 participants. It was dubbed the “Google Golden Triangle”, since the concentration of the looks of the eyes tends to be above and to the left, the results are consistent with the F-shaped pattern seen in independent research from Nielsen.

For web designers and editors, these results suggest that the content you want it to be seen to be placed to the left, and also that the use of content that a pattern match in the form of F (such as titles followed by paragraphs or bullets) increases the likelihood that they can be found by a user who is browsing a web page.

3 Do not make your users expect: Speed ​​up your site

We have always said that our users are impatient: they hate waiting. Well, that’s logical – Who likes to wait on purpose? But is there any evidence outside of anecdotal evidence that people really do not like to wait and that the performance of the page affects users of web sites?


Bing, the Microsoft search engine, conducted an analysis to see if there is any correlation between page speed face numerous performance indicators, such as satisfaction, revenue generated by the user, and the rate of clicks. The report showed an increase of less than 2 seconds in the increased response page user satisfaction declined -3.8%, generated a loss of revenue per user of -4.3% and decreased by -4.3 clicks %, among other findings. For a company as big as Microsoft, even a 4.3% drop in revenue may be equivalent to the loss of millions of dollars in profits.

So the users actually are impatient: They are less satisfied and reduce the number of clicks if they wait too long. And if you care about the search engine ranking, the incentive to improve the response time of the page is even greater, because Google considers page speed to your search rankings.

What can be done to improve the performance of the page? Use the tools to help you find performance bottlenecks, use CSS sprites to improve the speed of the page, and uses bench marking tools like YSlow to quickly see where you can make quick front optimizations.

4 Make your content easy to read

Internet users do not actually read online content, at least according to a study by Nielsen Dr. reading behaviors of people on your site. Their analysis shows that people only read 28% of the text on a web page and decrease the more text there on the page.

To increase the likelihood that Your readers get the most out of your content, the first used of techniques to make content easier to read. Highlight keywords: Use headings, write short paragraphs, and use lists.


5 Do not worry about “the fold” and the vertical displacement

Has long been a myth that all important content should be above “the fold,” a term taken from the newspapers that refers to the area of ​​a web page that can be seen without scrolling down – proposed by first by Jakob Nielsen.

So long pages are bad? Should we put everything on top of our web designs because people will never read anything below this fold?

The answer is “No”, according to a report ClickTale, an enterprise web analytics. Their results showed that the length of the page does not have any influence on the probability that a user scrolls down the page.

fold and placement

A study published by Joe Leech of CX Partners, a design agency focused on the user, indicated that less content above the fold even encourages users to explore the content below the fold.

The main point to consider here is that you must not fill in all the important content at the top because you’re afraid that the users are not able to find it. It uses the principles of visual hierarchy and the art of distinction to prioritize and infer the importance of various elements in the content of your pages.

6 Place your important content on the left side of the page

Educated people in cultures that read and write from left to right has been trained from the beginning to start on the left side of the page, either to write or read a book. This may be the reason why many Internet users spend most of their attention on the left side of a web page – as much as 69% of the time, according to an eye-tracking study of Dr. Nielsen involving more 20 users.

left bar of page

The same results were reflected in websites whose language is read from right to left, such as Hebrew and Arabic, with the results reversed (greater attention to the right facing left).

There are two things to consider this outcome. First, the language of the site is important when thinking about the design considerations; in the website design you must consider cultural design considerations. Second, for sites that are traditionally read from left to right, placing major design components on the left is a good idea; opposite for sites whose language is read from right to left.

7 White text space affects readability

Easy reading text improves comprehension and reading speed and improves the likelihood that a user read instead of abandoning the site. There are many factors that influence readability, including font options (serif vs. sans serif), font size, spacing, contrast background / foreground, and the spacing between paragraphs.

effects of margins

A readability study tested the reading performance of 20 participants to present the same blocks of text with different margins surrounding the text, as well as the change in spacing (the distance between lines of text). It was shown that the text is read faster margins, however, reading comprehension decreased. Faster reading when the text had no margins can be explained by the text and paragraphs are closer together, resulting in less time to move eyes from line to line and paragraph by paragraph.

As this particular study sample, the way we design our content can greatly affect user experience. Beware details: color, line spacing, tracking, and so on, and I realize the principles of web typography to make sure you’re not discouraging users from reading your content. Moreover, studies the effective use of negative space in Dubai Web Design.

8 Small details make a huge difference

Too often, we look at the big picture to create a web design and we ignore the small things when we are in a time crunch. We disclaim any thought put into writing something, or the design of a single button on a form if time and resources are limited. There are so many other things we have to think that it is often easy to let go of the little things.

But something as small as a button on a form can affect the success of a site, at least according to the design expert Jared Spool user interface, we wrote about a case on how to remove a button and add a message clear error to avoid user errors on a checkout process increased revenue by $ 300 million in just one year. The first month saw 45% increase in additional sales attributed to the revision of the payment process.

The importance of attention to detail is shared by Flow, a design agency focused on the user experience. They discovered that by reviewing your error page to include helpful tool-tip sales improved by 0.5% per month, which, extrapolated, could mean an additional quarter of a million pounds a year for the site particular.

The message we used? A friendly message from two sentences instead of a cold 404 error: “Sorry, we had a problem processing your order. Your card has not yet been charged with any purchase, please click the checkout to try again … ”

Pay attention to details. Use the A / B testing to test your hypothesis and find out what is the most effective design that achieves better results. Set goals using software analysis results to make design adjustments in relation to the objectives of the site.

9 Do not trust to aid in search for bad navigation

Users expect navigation easy and well organized. Even with an excellent search engine on the site, users will use traditional navigation first. According to an analysis of tasks performed by Gerry McGovern, over 70% of the participants began the task given to them by clicking on a link on the page instead of using the search function.

This result is similar to a test done by IPA monitoring did ecommerce tasks of 30 users. The analysis of the research concluded that “users often gravitated to the search engine when the page links did not meet them in some way.” Therefore, the search is more often used only when the user has not been able to find what I was looking at the current page.

The lesson to be gained here is clear: Do not trust the site search to remedy the poor organization of content find ability problems and poor information architecture. When users can not navigate to what they want, attention should be diverted to the design, navigation and improved content organization, with improved search functionality as a secondary priority.

10 Your home is not as important as you think

Visitors to your site are less likely to land on your homepage. Search engines are an important factor here, as it will link to any page that is relevant to your site. Links from other websites are also likely to link to pages outside your home if that is where the relevant information is.

According to an analysis by Gerry McGovern, visits to the main page of the websites are plummeting. He witnessed a fall of 39% in 2003 to only 2% of visits in 2010 coming from the main page of a site large research. This trend was confirmed twice elsewhere he studied, where home visits were reduced by half in just two years (from 10% in 2008 to only 5% in 2010).

The results indicate that traffic McGovern increasingly comes from outside sources – search engines, social networking sites like Twitter and service content aggregators like Alltop – instead of from the first page of a website . Therefore, focus on landing pages in front of your home can help you in getting more for your money in terms of conversion opportunities and ease of retention. Dubai Branding Agency

Thomas James

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