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Business owners can make their sites more practical and efficient by applying usability heuristics.

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Introduction

"One of the most important aspects of Nielsen's usability wisdom is that's not static, but dynamically changes through testing and research. Precepts of usability will continually change as people learn." Karen Minton, web professional Business owners can make their sites more practical and efficient by applying usability heuristics. Heuristics are "a relatively small number of concepts that inspectors apply to help find usability defects and are also referred to as usability principles." (Kahn and Prail: Formal Usability Inspections: 1993, pg 170) These usability principles can help web designers create a site around user interests or find errors in currently existing sites that may hinder a user's navigation experience. (www.iorg.com) For my assignment I chose the most popular men for usability questions Jakob Nielsen who developed 10 usability heuristics, which I will use to evaluate different websites in the second assignment. Nielsen lists ten usability heuristics on his website, www.useit.com. Developed in 1990, and revised in 1994, these principles apply to any online or software system. ...read more.

Middle

(2002, pg 155) 4. Consistency and standards Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform conventions. (Nielsen, 1994) Web designers must conform to standard language and design conventions to maximize familiarity for users. (Greenberg, 2003) 5. Error prevention Even better than good error messages is a careful design which prevents a problem from occurring in the first place. (Nielsen, 1994) Nothing turns a user off faster than annoying pop-up dialog boxes. These can be especially off-putting when they occur in the middle of a purchase. (Greenberg, 2003) 6. Recognition rather than recall Make objects, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the dialogue to another. Instructions for use of the system should be visible or easily retrievable whenever appropriate. (Nielsen, 1994) Web designers should not force users to remember information from one screen to another. Rather, each page should subtly instruct the user on their options. Designers have to make subsequent actions clear and intuitive. ...read more.

Conclusion

(Nielsen, 1994) The website must give users clear instructions on how to use the system. These instructions should be subtle and non-intrusive. For instance, a site map is a useful function that allows users to navigate a web site efficiently according to what he might be looking for. There has to be an integrate instructions on using a particular function into the same page and not in a separate place. A customer is more likely to get lost if he is jumping from page to page looking for help. (Dykstra, 1993) The usability of a web site is the most important aspect of any online business, yet is often also the most neglected. Jakob Nielsen, usability expert, asserts, "...it's easy to turn to another supplier in the face of even a minor hiccup. Only if a website is extremely easy to use will anybody bother staying around." (Nielsen, 2000) Usability ensures that the people who surf your web site can use it easily, effectively, and efficiently. Web sites must be easy to navigate and contain intuitive interfaces, or users will simply leave. Efficient and usable web sites are especially important because the cost of leaving for an online customer is so low. ...read more.

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