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Special eventCreating Customer-Centric Websites Masterclass presented by Gerry McGovern, renowned Web content and usability expert
Gerry McGovern is regarded as a worldwide authority on managing web content and has spoken about web content in 31 countries. In 2006, he was described by The Irish Times as one of five visionaries who had had a major impact on the development of the Web. On November 28-29 he will deliver a Masterclass in Ottawa. It will give you practical ways to achieve your objective of providing great Web content. Neo Insight, in collaboration with the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI) and Canada Business, Industry Canada, will host this rare appearance by Gerry McGovern in Canada.Those who registered before October 26th will receive a complimentary signed copy of Gerry's latest book "Killer Web Content" at the workshop.
In this issue
You may have read our article last month about carewords and are still wondering how to introduce your colleagues to this area of user-centred design. Carewords are the key words your users scan for on your web pages. Carewords are what compel users to stay, read more, and take action on your site. To learn more, join us at the Gerry McGovern Masterclass in November on how to create customer-centric websites using carewords. If you do not know what your clients' carewords are, you may be wondering how to begin. We offer here ten possible ways to begin. Not to short-circuit the process but to prime the pump.
We hope some of these ideas will make it easier for you to take your first steps into defining your customers’ carewords. It may look daunting – that is because there is no quick fix for knowing your users. Call us to plan some further steps.
Users appreciate web pages that have the information or hyperlinks they need, where they can see them. When a web page does not, users find it difficult to complete their tasks. It turns out to be especially true for web pages that require the user to scroll. Even when web authors know what information users want, it is difficult to keep in mind the optimal placement of that information.
In a recent report, ClickTale aggregated data from a broad number of sites to show how users scan pages. Read more about the ClickTale report. (We use ClickTale to monitor for our clients’ what their visitors see and click on). Consider the 91% of web pages that are long enough to have a scroll bar. In 25% of page views, users do not bother to scroll at all. Four out of five users viewing a web page do not even reach the bottom. So if your important information or links are below the primary viewing area, many of your users are missing them.
Take for instance web sites that must conform to CLF2, the new Common Look and Feel Guidelines for Government of Canada websites. CLF2 specifies how pages should be laid out. However, the top banner and generic navigation take up a significant portion of the primary viewing area (about 33% of it when viewed at 1024x768). So, web managers must move important information high on the page in order for users to even see it. Here is an example from the Canada Border Services site.
Now let's consider what terms users will look for as they scan the page. A key search phrase for users that arrive at Canada Border Services’ website, according to Quantcast, is “Canadian customs” or “Canada customs”. The graphic above shows how a user viewing the Canada Border Services site on a typical 1024x768 pixel display would not see any of those keywords, nor would they even see the word “customs”. Moreover, one out of four people would leave before scrolling far enough to see any occurrence of "customs" on the page.
What can you do about it? Keep track of the primary viewing area on your own web pages. Keep this chart from the ClickTale report handy. The chart shows how page views drop off at specific lengths as measured in pixels.
Maintain awareness of what is and is not within the primary viewing area by periodically testing usability throughout your content development cycle. Test whether users are able to scan quickly to the links or information for which they visit your web page. Share the results regarding task-completion with your web development team. Establish guidelines – about words for headlines – about words to use in hyperlinks – about words to start sentences and paragraphs. These will help your authors and developers keep the carewords in mind as they create web content. We recognize these are large activities and your situation is unique – call us to discuss how we can help.
Ottawa usability practitioners will celebrate World Usability Day on November 8th, 2007 at the RA Centre. The conference and exhibition is open to all who are interested in the usability of the products they design, buy, and use. Come see how people design things that are important to life, how to make them easier to access, and how to make them simpler to use. That’s the message: “Making life easy”. The theme this year is healthcare.
Come hear the speakers, view the exhibition, and watch live usability testing demonstrations – all for free. Keep an eye on the preparations by visiting the Ottawa Usability Consoritium web page or by subscribing to this newsletter.
Mocking up a design is a great way to communicate a concept for a user experience. But often our clients struggle with when to plan for it, how detailed to make it, and what is realistic to expect. It comes down to how much you know about user needs, what design decisions you need to make, who you can ask. That tells us how much fidelity is needed to stimulate a response from a user or stakeholder. Here we offer some broad comparisons of prototypes. These are not necessary sequential, but if prototypes are used throughout design, they should successively increase in fidelity.
The secret to prototyping is knowing when to generate lots of ideas in order to find the best, when to evaluate and converge, when to spend more budget to achieve more fidelity, and how to create the right prototype to gather the data you need to make strategic decisions. We would love to discuss how your design process can better prototype the user experience. Call us.
Place your order for Morae usability testing software between November 6th and December 20th, and you will receive a special 25% discount. This includes private sector, public sector, and educational pricing. It also includes upgrades and maintenance renewals. When you place your order please include ‘PROMO’ in the description. Call us to discuss what Morae usability testing software by TechSmith can do for you. The time is right.
Our workshop “Designing usable Web-based applications”, takes place February 21, 2008. Web applications are becoming as powerful as the ones on our desktop. Join this workshop to explore the challenges of designing web applications, and come away with tips, techniques and current best practices for providing high-value services that enable your users to fulfill their goals effectively and efficiently.
Our one-day workshop “Usability challenges of new Web technologies” takes place on February 28, 2008. We will review many live Web 2.0 examples and explore how to adapt traditional usability techniques to design and evaluate the new generation of web user interfaces.
Early registrants save $100. Save even more for group bookings. Take advantage of further discounts and call us to run either workshop at your location for five or more people: (613) 271-3001.
Quote of the month
“Getting people to click on your search result is just the first step…Find out about how people search and you get a window into how they think”
Gerry McGovern, "Killer Web Content", 2006
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