Usability & Accessibility

10 ways to improve the usability of your e-commerce websiteWith more and more consumers spending time on the web looking for online bargains (let’s be honest, if I see a game for £27.99 online but £34.99 in shops then I wouldn’t be thinking twice either) instead of shops, companies must ask themselves if their website is not only showing the right prices, but is also usable enough to order items from.

In 2005 there was a huge wave of online shops reworking their ordering processes to make them more usable and accessible to people, which was a sounding success for many companies. These days however more offline stores are trying to expand to the web and are asking for advice. Here are ten ways to improve the usability of your e-commerce site to maximise your conversion rate and help convert ‘browsing your wares’ into ‘placing an order’: Continue Reading

Usability & Accessibility

Usability Heuristics Explained - Whatwasithinking UKI bumped into a former student of mine this evening – pleasant surprise. We had a quick chat about work and life, and he asked me if there was a quick way to explain the Usability Heuristics to someone in his company that would not involve a lot of reference material.

“Heuristic evaluation” means identifying usability problems with your website by checking the website (layout, design, outer template, content) against 10 so-called best-practice guidelines published by Jakob Nielsen. Even after reading these “10 commandments of usability” you may end up a little confused as to what they mean and how to relate to them in the real (web) world. So let’s have a look at them… Continue Reading

Information Architecture, Usability & Accessibility, Web development

FireFox extensions for Usability, Accessibility and SEO expertsMy day to day work consists of a lot of time spending on the internet, looking at web presences of current clients, prospective clients and their (and our) competition. My tool of the trade being FireFox 3 (especially considering that IE seems to have a little problem). I am using a number of addons which really help my work-flow in the fields of usability, accessibility, SEO and occasionally information architecture.

I was asked by a couple of fellow twitter users to divulge my plugin list, and since I keep track of them myself at times I thought this post would come in handy for everyone.

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Information Architecture, Usability & Accessibility, Web Design

On Link usability - the art of keeping call to actions consistent Not so long ago I was asked by a client, if it was possible to change a couple of sections within their site as they just updated their product structure: the client was expanding their products to list two more categories. To make them stand out, their marketing team was thinking of using different colours throughout the main content area so that is looks much more consistent, which included changing all link colours and buttons to these new colours.

As a designer you have probably faced a similar situation before – can I or can I not change the link colours on certain pages to keep a consistent look and feel?

Yes, you can, but you shouldn’t ever. Here is why… Continue Reading

Rants, Usability & Accessibility, Web Design, Web development

Please display PDF links properly! - Whatwasithinking.co.ukOver the last couple of months I have been working on a great number of design, usability and accessibility reports for clients of mine. Some of the sites I worked on are pretty good, and all you can recommend is maybe tightening up their call-to-actions or look at a couple of points of Section 508 to validate properly. Then there are some that need a bit more help than that. That is natural, some of the sites have been up for years and could do with a new design or will need some more development work.

But what gets me going of late is the inability of some websites to display their PDFs properly…

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Information Architecture, Usability & Accessibility, Web Design, Web development

Alexander Rehm on Information ArchitectureA friend of mine has just gotten his first freelance project: working on a website for a friend of his: the website is about guided tours around Pembrokeshire and the Carmarthen (Wales). Effectively the requirements for him were as follows:

We need to design and build as website for a small company offering guided tours for families or groups going to Wales. The idea is to sell the beauty of Wales as well as the services for either pre-set tours or tailor-made tours based on the client’s wishes.

So in effect he had a very good brief in front of him already. He is a very good designer, and he knows a lot about coding, so he was confident in producing a very good website. The first drafts he made are looking very promising, nice graphics and use of fonts. When I asked him how he was setting the site up and link products and information together he looked a bit stumped. “You know, I haven’t thought of that really, I wanted to come to that when times arises.”… Continue Reading