You know that big automatic rotating banner you ordered for your start page? Yeah, that’s right. It’s rubbish.
Provocative title, yes, but as you can see from the eye tracking heat maps above – when a user lands on a page trying to complete a task, they ignore everything they don’t consider helpful in completing that task.
The left-hand heat map shows 3 people looking at the start page of a Swedish council’s website without a task. They were just told to take in the page – a test I call first impressions. Without a task, people look everywhere – fixating on headlines, menus, and faces across pretty much the entire page – even scrolling to look below the fold.
The right-hand heat map shows where 3 people fixated on the same page, but this time they were given a specific task. Their focus is entirely on the horizontal menu. They presumed the menu to provide the next step in completing their task. Everything else was ignored. Nothing else was expected to be able to help more than the main menu.
This is not a one off. This is what I see every single time I test a web site where the user has a task to complete. The exact places they look varies with the task, but searching the page for keywords almost always begins with what is perceived to be the main navigation.
How much of your start page is irrelevant and ignored?
This time, a collection of links (and summaries) including articles related to: Social media and social search, web strategy and web management, Optimisation, usability testing and Eye tracking.
Social media & social search
More Google (social) search news. Adding “shared” information to SERPs is a sensible way of making use of open data. It’s basically recommendations for search results. As I’ve written about, certain results shared by certain people (or combinations of people) seem to get a bump up your (personalised) search results.
Pressing the right psychological buttons is always centre to marketing, but the ease at which you can tribalise a brand varies a lot from sector to sector and product to product.
Web strategy & web management
The BBC is going to close and remove a number of old websites. This has generated an interesting and worthy debate about historical content and how it should be archived rather than destroyed. The cost (and difficulty) of keeping such archived content is hardly worth mentioning. The similarity has been raised between this wiping policy and the same one the BBC had for video tapes back in the 60s and 70s – resulting in programmes and performances being lost forever.
Banners that don’t match the task a visitor is trying to complete and “filler” marketing images and being shown time and time again to be either ignored, or as Gerry points out there – even detrimental to the trustworthiness of a site and the chances of goal completion. Worth re-reading this Nielsen Alertbox article too
A long awaited improvement. I’m of the opinion now that even if you are running another statistics gathering script on your page, you probably should make sure GA is there too.
Cross-feeding updates from one social media site to another, or back to your corporate website is an increasingly important aspect of a web presence. For some organisations (such as Swedish Councils) archiving these updates is a requirement. Pulling out status updates from a Facebook page as an RSS web feed is possible, but how you do it is not widely known. This post explains how.
A good quick overview of a number of navigation design patterns. Be careful with some of the drawbacks though, as some of them aren’t fundamental drawbacks of the particular navigation type. The Bible for anyone interested in this subject is James Kalbach’s Designing Web Navigation.
Intranet & Collaboration
Here’s another manifesto – from May last year – outlining the ground rules for the business employee relationship in the era of social business.
A little intranet story showing again how important it is to have management buy in. At the end of the day, someone above you can stamp on pretty much anything they want should they want to – no matter how well planned, justified, and implemented.
Optimisation, Usability testing & eye tracking
Not every A/B test will give you a strong result, as this article explains you might end up with an awful lot of non-results. Take-homes – Weekly iterations, patience, persistence, focus on the big.
A DIY usability review kit – including a scorecard template. Have a little play on your own website.
For me, it’s a no-brainer. Eye tracking combined with retrospective think aloud interviews gives you data and insight that other usability testing can’t. Make sure you read the comments on this post.
Tommy expands on his comment to the “To Track of Not To Track” blog post above by showing the extra value that eye tracking can give compared to traditional usability testing (or mouse tracking). The post is quite technical in places, but ultimately what it explains is that eye tracking testing in this case highlighted issues that otherwise wouldn’t have been spotted.
This edition’s collection of links includes posts related to: Eye tracking and user testing, Intranets, UX, usability and web strategy, SEO, and web development.
User experience, usability & web strategy
This one quote from the article pretty much says enough: “Usability testing is no longer a nice to have but essential to the success of any website.” – if anything, design is the “nice to have” if you are forced to choose.
From a usability perspective, we’ve been trying to get web editors to avoid “read more” and “click here” for years. But, for sales links (rather than “resource links”) you get more clicks – which means potentially more conversions.
Via his blog post and the comments Harry Brignull has, in effect, crowd-sourced the improvement of not only Flattr’s website (their tactics), but also the entire way they are going about building their business (their strategy). This blog post could be the point where Flattr’s tide turned….
Forget your big-bang entire-site redesigns. Let’s tinker more. Small changes can make massive differences; with often very little cost or negative impact on other aspects of your site. In this example, just the wording on a button was changed.
There are some really bad examples of how to highlight a new feature, but this example from LinkedIn is one of the good one; as Erin explains in blog post.
If a question is frequently asked, then obviously it’s important to your users and deserves more loving care than to be consigned to the depths of a FAQ dumped in a lonely corner of your site.
This blog post in Swedish by Helen Alfvegren is an excellent and exhaustive guide to Twitter. If you are Swedish and thinking of diving in (as a company or an individual), or if you have dabbled but not really got into it – then take a look at this guide.
Some pros and cons with merging a Facebook Place with a Facebook Page. Note that we’re talking about merging here, not associating. You should associate all of your places with your business – but not necessarily merge them.
Search engine optimisation
Although lots of SEO is aimed at optimising for machines, you’ve got to remember the human side too – the search experience.
Ok, I know the writer is just trying to practice what he’s preaching, but “post-Google age” and “SEO is fading away”. Oh please. If you ignore silliness, this article is a good read. SEO isn’t going away, neither is Google any time soon – and SMO (Social media optimisation) and SEO are partners, not enemies.
A 25% cut is never fun, lots of things will have to disappear… But let’s focus on the positives. Buried away at the bottom of this article is the gem: “The corporation also said it wanted to double the number of referrals to external websites to 22 million each month by 2013/14.” The more link-love available from the BBC the better for the rest of us I say!
Kristian has kicked-off a collaborative project to write a book that gives you an introduction to intranets. The list of topics suggested would take the book well beyond an introduction, but refined and produced in multiple languages it could be a really good resource. Plenty of internationally respected names within the world of Intranets have commented on the post. The introduction to intranets site officially launches tomorrow.
Some common sense thrown onto the social intranet hype. Quote: “Forget the word social intranet or intranet 2.0. It’s an intranet. Period. The place where the whole organization can meet, exchange, work.”
An amusing insight into Ragan’s first day of using Yammer. I don’t agree with all of the “tips”. What you see here is a reflection of their company culture; not Yammer/whatever social collaboration platform you fancy. Too many rules will kill it off. It’s a cultural change; manage that change – don’t write a rule book.
Yes it’s a Yammer survey of Yammer users – but if you can just replace “Yammer” with “Social collaboration” and the figures will still ring true. Yammer is just an example of how such collaborative tools and features as part of a company’s intranet can change behaviour and, ultimately, how effective an organisation is.
James points out that mobile devices are personal devices – in the context of intranets this not only gives us a whole load of exciting (and useful) opportunities, but also a few challenges – the way we deal with content and services internally needs to change (you even could say “grow up”) in order to make the most of what mobile intranets can offer.
Printing in the work-place isn’t going to vanish any time soon – QR Codes though could really help link the paper world with the digital work. There’s lots of potential uses in a working environment, many of them outlines in this post.
Geek-heaven. A periodic table of Google API and developer products. You could lose yourself in this for years. Even non-geeks can do nothing to help be impressed by the sheer range and quantity of what Google offers.
Eye tracking & user testing
Recruiting people to take part in testing is an art-form. One of my least favourite tasks. Here’s some tips from James Breeze and the objective Digital crew down under.
A partcularly useful post this one – some tips from Simple Usability on how to go about including usability testing (and Eye tracking in particular) in your projects – and some tips on how to sell it in to clients.
This edition’s collection of links includes posts related to: Intranets, UX, Web design and web development, web strategy and web tactics, Analysis and eye tracking.
To save you visiting several blogs to get a grip of what’s hot within the world of Intranets, this article conveniently groups it all together for you in one post.
Just before Christmas the BBC has launched a new enhanced site search. This is a detailed write up of what they’ve done and why. There’s a lot of useful information here that could be applied to intranet and enterprise search solutions.
A blog post talking about mobiles, intranet, QR codes, and location based services was bound to get my juices flowing. Kristian outlines a number of interesting possible applications for the enhanced mobile intranet of the not too distant future.
Jane starts a discussion about breaking down Silos by using customization. This sparked a great discussion in the comments between Kristian Norling (featured in my previous recommendation above), myself, and Martin Risgaard on how to break down the geographical silo.
User experience, Web design, and web development
Long post about the death of RSS. I don’t agree. Completely. Yes, RSS and the browser is a dying combination – but with tablets and the age of curation, RSS has a healthy future as part of the wiring beneath the scenes. Non-techies/non-curators can blissfully ignore it but still reap the benefits. This week Kroc followed up his post with this constructive reply.
If you haven’t yet heard about responsive web design, then this article on Smashing Magazine is a good and information-rich place to start. We’re rapidly moving away from the one-size-fits-all website.
I love this example of QR codes. It’s a wonderful example of an application of technology that benefits everyone involved. The teacher has more time for teaching (rather than just making sure everyone has typed in the right URL), the kids take to it like fish to water. It also gives a use for QR codes without using mobile phones.
James gives some calm and thoughtful analysis of fixed position footer toolbars from the viewpoint of web navigation.
Web strategy and web tactics
Yet more wise words from Johan. Even though there are many of us that bang on about how a web site needs to be focused and task based, the corporate world at large is a number of years behind in it’s thinking. We’ll get there. I’d expand upon Johan’s recommendation of moving 10% of your media budget to content by clarifying “content” to include web management – you content needs to be lovingly dealt with.
Detailed post from Diana, and especially worth reading on the back of Johan’s post above on integrated communication.
Niche walled gardened channels are forming – from Apps to Gaming worlds – but one thing will remain – the web is where people will go to complain.
I often try to explain to people that the web isn’t simple. Yes, some tools make aspects of the web accessible and easy – but building and running a successfull web presence involves a huge list of competences. There’s hardly a discipline that isn’t touched. This post features a (non-exhausive) list and diagram of skills needed for a marketing technologist (you can switch that term for your web-title of preference)
Why your company’s website will never be finished. Something worth saving and remembering from this Swedish post is Magnus’s three focus areas he recommends spitting idea’s up into: improvements that bring more visitors, improvements that convert more visits, improvements to your products and services.
Mobile search is another aspect that we need to consider and work with. Here are some trends from SEOmoz. Don’t agree with the “single set of SERPs” claim. I don’t see, and I don’t see it being a trend either. Quite the opposite.
Analysis and eye tracking
If any of you have heard me talk about usability testing with eye tracking, you may also have heard me say how worthless mouse tracking is as a substitute for real eye tracking. Here’s an article that backs that up.