Userfocus Usability Newsletter, July 2009

Welcome to the July edition of the Userfocus usability newsletter.

Message from the Editor

Expert reviews have a long history in usability, mainly because they are an extremely cost effective way of spotting usability problems. But what distinguishes an expert review from someone's personal opinion? One important criteria is consistency: if a problem exists, then different reviewers should be able to find it independently. One problem is that common sets of guidelines — like Nielsen's 10 heuristics or Shneiderman's 'Golden Rules' — are too high level for specific platforms, like the web. Re-interpreting guidelines like these in the form of specific design advice helps remove ambiguity and should encourage more consistency between reviewers.

This month we're publishing an extensive set of web usability guidelines that enables anyone to carry out a systematic review of a web site. And if you're interested in this general approach, you'll love the course we're running next month on expert reviews. I hope to see you there!

247 Web Usability Guidelines

Although designing usable systems requires far more than simply applying guidelines, guidelines can still make a significant contribution to usability by promoting consistency and good practice. This article contains a list of guidelines we use for expert reviews in our consultancy work. The article includes 20 guidelines to evaluate the usability of home pages, 44 guidelines to evaluate how well a web site supports the users tasks, 29 guidelines to evaluate navigation and information architecture, 23 guidelines to evaluate forms and data entry, 13 guidelines to evaluate trust and credibility, 23 guidelines to evaluate writing and content quality, 38 guidelines to evaluate page layout and visual design, 20 guidelines to evaluate search and 37 guidelines to evaluate help, feedback and error tolerance. You can also download the guidelines as an Excel workbook. Read the article in full: 247 Web Usability Guidelines.

Usability Training: Now Booking

Our trainers take a Summer break in July, but our courses return in August. Here's what's coming up.

How to carry out an expert review, August 6, London

For people in design teams who need to spot usability problems in prototypes and finished products, "How to carry out a usability expert review" is a 1-day seminar that teaches delegates cost-effective methods to evaluate designs. Unlike courses in usability testing, this seminar teaches delegates how to find and fix usability problems without involving end users. 2 places remaining. More information about this training course: How to carry out an expert review.

Contextual Inquiry, September 30, London

For people in design teams who need to base their designs on reality, not assumptions, "Contextual inquiry: how to plan, execute and analyse a site visit" is a 1-day seminar that teaches delegates how to get the most from a field visit to a customer location. Unlike academic courses, delegates on this seminar carry out their own study and so learn the practicalities of contextual inquiry on the job. More information about this training course: Contextual Inquiry training.

Web Usability, October 20-21, London

For web designers who want hands-on experience with usability tools and techniques, "Web Usability" is a 2-day immersion seminar that shows delegates how to boost sales and conversion rates, increase usage and improve customer satisfaction. Unlike shorter introductory courses, this in-depth workshop covers the entire design and development lifecycle. More information about this training course: Web Usability training.

User Experience quotation of the month

"The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair." — Douglas Adams.

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