Beantin

James Royal-Lawson

Usability

13 Articles worth reading… (Spotted: Week 6-7, 2011)

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

Google Search Finally Going Fully Social With Shared Twitter Links And Even Quora Data

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.

How To Target Social Tribes On Facebook

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

Erase and rewind

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 This has generated an interesting and worthy debate about historical content and how it should be archived rather than destroyed.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.

Are marketing images damaging your website?

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

Linking Google Analytics to Webmaster Tools

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.

How to read the RSS feed of any Facebook page

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.


Information architecture

Guide to Website Navigation Design Patterns

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

The Social Business Employee Manifesto

Here’s another manifesto – from May last year – outlining the ground rules for the business employee relationship in the era of social business.

Why Yammer Failed

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

Appsumo reveals its A/B testing secret: only 1 out of 8 tests produce results

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 guide to carrying out usability reviews

A DIY usability review kit – including a scorecard template. Have a little play on your own website.

To Track or Not To Track

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.

The value of eye tracking vs. observation and mouse tracking

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.

12 Articles worth reading… (Spotted: Week 42-43, 2010)

Information Architecture 101: Techniques and Best Practices

A great “briefing paper” from Six Revisions, intending to raise awareness of the discipline with designers.

Mental Models

The latest Alertbox post covers what users think they know and how that affects their behaviour. Users, designers and developers all have differing mental models. You need to work with conformity not against it, and gently adjust the mental models of your visitors and users.

10 essential usability guidelines for websites

If every website followed the ten points in this list, i’d suddenly have hardly anything to complain about any more. Well, perhaps not *hardly* anything – more like “less”.

How Yammer Won Over 80% of the Fortune 500

Yammer boasts that 80% of the Fortune 500 use Yammer. I wonder how many of those 400 companies have adopted Yammer as their official, or main, collaboration platform?

How I learnt to stop worrying and love enterprise microblogging

Nice case describing how Yammer took flight at AXA Australia in just the few months since August.

Information flow part 3: Why persistent links are important

I’m really enjoying Kristian’s series of posts about aspects of his work over the last couple with the intranet at Region Västra Götland. This particular post goes into the details of how they’ve tried to deal with managing URLs and links across multiple systems.

How we improved our intranet search experience

Luke describes how they implemented and tweaked their Intranet search (using a Google Search Appliance). Some good lessons-learned and insights that anyone dealing with intranet search can make use of.

Report: iPad Is an Enterprise IT Triple-Threat

The headline talks about iPad (and thereby iSO) but the report concludes that Android and HTML5 should also be prioritised. I’m going one step further than Forrester and saying prioritise HTML5 and Android. Plan for mobile/wireless working and plan soon.

How Google tested Google Instant

An insight into how Google tests it’s products (before launch in this case). What I find interesting is that normally Google uses eye tracking whilst testing. It gives them real data to work with. In this case, Google Instant, they chose not to. Why? I suspect they did try, but realised that far too many people were spending too much time looking down at the keyboard whilst typing – and not looking at their instantly-changing search results.

How Facebook Decides What To Put In Your News Feed – These 10 Secrets Reveal All

Some useful testing into how Facebook decides what to display into your news feed. Would be interested though to know their source for saying “Top News is how a vast majority of Facebook users get their information”

20 Real Tips for Hiring a Social Media Consultant

A good list to help you separate the wheat from the chaff in the world of social media consulting. You don’t need to hold yourself religiously to all 20 points, but there is some really good, honest, to-the-point advice in Pam Moore’s post.

How Google dominates the Web

If you had any doubts about just how dominant Google are in our World of Web Stuff, then this Royal Pingdom posts shows you the stats in easy to consume pie-charts.

8 Articles worth reading… (Spotted: Week 37-38, 2010)

Children’s Websites: Usability Issues in Designing for Kids

9 years on from their first survey, Nielsen have produced a new study into the usability of Children’s websites. “It’s now common for a 7-year-old kid to be a seasoned Internet user with several years’ experience.” – If we think that the millennials are the internet generation – in 10-15 years this wave of 7 year olds will be in the marketplace.

No One Is Looking At Google Instant

A small eye tracking study (14 searches by 7 users) but contains some interesting finding – one such finding was all of their test participants didn’t look at the screen whilst typing their search phrase!

New navigation for our intranet – please help!

More practical advice from The Intranet Professor. A lick of paint for an un-respected, un-loved, un-used intranet, or full renovation?

A Comprehensive Guide Inside Your <head>

Excellent guide to the <head> section of HTML. As technically the head is limitless, there are a number of additional things Alex could have included (but you have to draw the line somewhere!) Nevertheless, one link reference that really should have mentioned is rel=”canonical”.

HTML5: The Facts And The Myths

I Had the pleasure of listening to Opera’s Bruce Lawson evangelise HTML5 at Disruptive Code this week. This Smashing Mag article by him and Remy Sharp is a good primer for those of you who don’t know that much about it.

Internet Explorer Extinct by 2013? 2010 Update

In 2008 web dev & design site Sitepoint predicted that they wouldn’t be receiving any visits from people using an Internet Explorer browser – here’s their 2010 update. Interesting stats and interesting to see the continued trend of browser usage in the dev/design world.

Let’s create a neat graphic and pretend that it’s true

Read Jesper’s Churchil-eqsue post, then read Amber Naslund’s post 3 Reasons B2B Social Media Makes So Much Sense. Two boxers each waiting to pounce from their respective corners of the ring? Is one of them half-way up the garden path? Can you apply behaviour analysis and “CRM the living shit out of all the data” to B2B customers in the same way you can B2C consumers?

Japanese Mobile Users Can Sign In to Facebook Using QR Codes

Facebook are experimenting with using QR codes generated whilst you are logged in to the standard site in order to authenticate your log-in to the mobile site. All done in a couple of clicks rather than a load of fiddly typing. Sounds like a usability win to me.

Search-engine friendly country site select boxes

Design often has the final say in a redesign project – or at best, a very powerful voice – which isn’t always a good, or acceptable, situation.

Recently I was part of a project where I needed to preserve an aspect of the old design for SEO reasons. The new design had included a select box, but I needed those “options” to be real links that would pass link-love. So, I offered this search-engine friendly solution.

Country links

Country links on the original website

To give a bit more background, the old site had a footer that contained links to every single country site within the organisation. This was about 26 links. On every page of the site. Most of those country sites had a similar footer, making most of the links reciprocal. That’s quite an international network of inter-linked international top level domains.

I obviously wanted to maintain that network of links after the redesign. It clearly wasn’t going to help the position of any of the sites in SERPs by removing them.

Country select box

Choose your country site select box

The design that was produced had “simplified” the list of countries in the footer to be a select box drop down menu. Although this is not unusual for companies with multiple country sites, it’s not always a good thing for usability (I like populating the select box using geolocation as a solution – but that would be another blog post!) and it’s really not a good thing for search engines.

No link-love for select boxes

Although Google has indexed text in select boxes for a number of years, and also indexes (new) URLs that is discovers within those lists, it doesn’t pass any pagerank to those links. Neither does it attribute the anchor text (or more correctly in this case: option text) to the destination link.

This obviously meant that the international network of inter-linked top level domains would come crashing down to the ground. Not really something that was on the list of requirements…

Country sites as a linked list

So in order to preserve the link network, and to honour the design decision, I decided to re-introduce the <a> link list of countries, and in order to not make this visible to (most) end-users, I set it to “display:none”.

Now hold on I can hear you say. Doesn’t Google (and other search engines) consider adding “display:none” to things as cloaking? Well, not necessarily. The key is whether there is a mechanism for making the content visible to visitors or not.

So in order to keep both the search engines and users happy what I did was add the “display:none” only if javascript is enabled. That way we are always serving the same HTML content to all visitors and search-engines, but making parts of it invisible when viewed in the browser by most visitors. Importantly, we are letting the search engines see and index all the links to the countries.

Adding a class

Add a js class to the country link list, or whatever element of the page you want to be hidden when javascript is enabled.

<div class="js">

Include an external js file

Add a link to an external script directly after your CSS styles (you may already have such an external file already)

<script type="text/javascript" src="/script/functions.js">

</script>

Document.write

in that script add a document write to write the additional css style link

document.write('<link rel="stylesheet" 

href="/styles/js-enabled.css"
type="text/css" media="screen" />');

Display:none

Finally, your js css file. Add the “js” class styling with display:none there.

.js {
display: none;
}

There are other ways you could achieve the same result; especially if you’re already using an Ajax library such as jquery, but I thought it was good to share with you an example that didn’t force the introduction of that overhead.

Cloaking

Yes, you could argue that this is technically cloaking, but it is better to say that we are offering enhanced content to those with javascript disabled. By doing this we are cloaking in a way that is helping Google and visitors who find long lists within select boxes difficult to use.

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