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top ten design mistakes of 2005
Nielsen's annual list
amznVibe




msg:335343
 7:19 am on Oct 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

[useit.com...]
1. Legibility Problems
2. Non-Standard Links
3. Flash
4. Content That's Not Written for the Web
5. Bad Search
7. Cumbersome Forms
8. No Contact Information or Other Company Info
9. Frozen Layouts with Fixed Page Widths
10. Inadequate Photo Enlargement

previous years:
2004: [useit.com...]
2003: [useit.com...] - (WW discussion [webmasterworld.com])
2002: [useit.com...] - (WW discussion [webmasterworld.com])

 

hannamyluv




msg:335344
 3:31 pm on Oct 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

5. Bad Search

I know he says this in the article, but this one is a tough, tough one to overcome. People are really bad spellers, which is half of the problem when people talk about bad search. A decent search function is just out of reach (price and complexity wise) for the average web developer/designer.

jomaxx




msg:335345
 5:45 pm on Oct 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

re #10: "When users ask for a big photo, show them a big photo."

Hallelujah! Virtually every retail site has a zoom-in feature. Virtually NO retail site has a zoom-in of sufficient quality to justify a decision to buy - unless the customer has already seen the identical product in real life.

Longhaired Genius




msg:335346
 6:02 pm on Oct 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

The really interesting one is:

6. Browser Incompatibility

I'm an admirer of Nielsen's but I didn't realise he had been actually telling people they didn't need to bother with cross-browser compatibility.

Turns out companies have been spending thousands of dollars to have him tell them to make the number six web-design mistake. I wonder if they'll get a refund.

brandyace




msg:335347
 9:16 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

Since flash is considered not good, what are other suggestions y'all have for "sizzling" up a site?

ken_b




msg:335348
 9:21 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

Lousy navigation didn't even make it into the top 10?

zCat




msg:335349
 10:21 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

My nomination for mistake number 11 is "being a web design guru with a site which doesn't quite pass the w3.org validator" a la:

validator.w3.org [validator.w3.org]

A hopelessly petty comment, I know, but it's good to know the gurus aren't perfect either ;-) It's been months since I stopped worrying about perfect validation.

[edited by: jatar_k at 6:54 pm (utc) on Oct. 6, 2005]
[edit reason] fixed link [/edit]

txbakers




msg:335350
 10:24 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

Mr. Neilsen's site looks like it was written in 1988.

If you want to write to his standards, that's fine, but just remember he is one person and we are all entitled to our opinions.

Still, a lot of what he says I agree with, but don't take it as "truth."

Rosalind




msg:335351
 11:50 am on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

His points about search make valuable reading, I'm off to fix mine up a bit.

Usually I read what he says and think he's just stating the obvious, but this year's list has more to it.

Marketing Guy




msg:335352
 11:55 am on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

4. Content That's Not Written for the Web

I'd add in:

4b. Content that is written for the web. ;)

PCInk




msg:335353
 12:21 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Number 1: Frozen font sizes
I think that is an error with Internet Explorer (certainly Firefox/Opera/Netscape do not suffer this problem).

Number 6: Browser incompatibilty
Something I did years ago: make my site compatible with Netscape. Although only 1% of people were using Netscape, orders went up by almost 10%. Probably because they couldn't order at 99% of other sites!

Number 7: Cumbersome forms
Set the keyboard focus to the first field when the form is displayed. This saves a click.

Do NOT do this unless the form IS THE PAGE.

Follow my examples of good and bad and see if you agree:
Example 1: Google
Home page, focus goes to the search box.
Search pages and the focus does not go to the search box (you can use the page-up, page-down and arrow keys to navigate).

Example 2: MSN (search.msn.com)
Home page, focus goes to the search box.
Search pages and the focus goes to the search box. Now I cannot move about in the page using the keyboard without pressing TAB or clicking outside the search box. This is bad for accessibility and bad for laptop users. It also suggests that the search results will be poor and you will need to search again using different terms.

Take what is said and see if it applies specifically to your site and your pages! Don't think of him as an internet guru because his results and opinions may differ from site to site.

Leosghost




msg:335354
 12:30 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Can someone fix the scroll ..please ..if neilson missed horizontal scrolls off his list .. the most annoying thing after pops and blinks

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:335355
 2:04 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Have a look at this guy's own site and tell me that he is a guru?

Frozen Layouts with Fixed Page Widths

Is this so bad? With the proliferation of hi-res TFT monitors flexible page layouts with single columns can be harder to read than fixed layouts. This is a bit like reading a broadsheet newspaper with a single column.

jomaxx




msg:335356
 3:44 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Set the keyboard focus to the first field when the form is displayed. This saves a click.
Do NOT do this unless the form IS THE PAGE.

I think PCInk is saying "don't do this unless there's no other reason to be on that page and you're certain the visitor wants to fill out the form", in which case I agree wholeheartedly.

Google added this little feature to their home page some time ago and it still appears to be there. But their home page was my start page, and I was usually trying to type an address into the URL bar when the page finished loading and my cursor jumped down to the search box. This was another of Life's Little Annoyances until I finally saved their homepage to my C: drive, removed that Javascript code, and made THAT my start page instead.

P.S. About Nielsen: I love Homepage Usability because of its rigor and its attention to detail. I'd love to see his site subjected to the same detailed analysis. One thing I don't like: text that runs from edge to edge of the screen. When you have to physically turn your head as you read an article, that's too wide.

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:335357
 4:03 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

One thing I don't like: text that runs from edge to edge of the screen.

Which is what you get with many floating layouts.

BradleyT




msg:335358
 4:42 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

CTRL + mouse scroll wheel changes font sizes in IE.

limbo




msg:335359
 5:05 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

No.11 Completely ignore the basics of design theory to produce banal usability-blinkered search fodder ;)

bwelford




msg:335360
 5:56 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

BradleyT, I think you'll find that if font sizes are specified in Internet Explorer, then they are fixed and cannot be changed with a scrolling wheel mouse. OTOH such fixed size fonts do not stay fixed in Firefox, but can always be changed with the scrolling wheel mouse.

On a more fundamental point, I think it is essential to think of different 'personas' who may visit the website. Some may have more or less 'computer', some may have more or less computer-competence. If you've worked hard to get the visitor to your website, it's a shame to lose them because they get irritated or confused. I believe Nielsen is helping to relate to all these different personas.

bwelford




msg:335361
 5:58 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Oops. Sorry, I guess I can't edit what I just wrote, but I intended to say 'font sizes specified in pixels'.

Webwork




msg:335362
 7:53 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Frozen Layouts with Fixed Page Widths

Somone disabuse me, please.

Isn't sourced order content desirable? You know, content first in the page structure and all that other stuff down the page?

Doesn't source ordered content, at least at the moment, require fixed width pages in order to be compatible with x,y & z browsers? So the page actually displays correctly?

Let the dis-abuse begin.

Webwork




msg:335363
 8:39 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Ummm . . source ordered content . .

jomaxx




msg:335364
 9:49 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

It doesn't require fixed width if the navigation goes at the top or at the left side. I do this and it renders fine on all the browsers I have tested it on. [Note to self: get access to a Mac and test site using Safari.]

To place elements at the right side or somewhere in the middle of the page, it might well require fixed width, or at least a more elaborate hack.

RammsteinNicCage




msg:335365
 12:54 am on Oct 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

Frozen Layouts with Fixed Page Widths

Is this so bad? With the proliferation of hi-res TFT monitors flexible page layouts with single columns can be harder to read than fixed layouts. This is a bit like reading a broadsheet newspaper with a single column.

There are a lot more people using hi-res monitors, but there are also a lot more people using handheld devices - how do those cope with 1024x768+ designs?

Also, with a fluid layout, it doesn't mean that everything has to be fluid - some sections shouldn't be, like if you were reading something like newspaper columns, you want those to be small. You can compensate by making something on the left or right fluid.

Jennifer

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:335366
 8:28 am on Oct 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

I appreciate this but I am with Webwork on this one. I'll worry about handheld devices if they ever become widely used by my potential clients, which I doubt because they are not really suitable and using them for browsing is not yet an enjoyable experience.

My point is that many people do not enjoy reading columns of text where, as jomaxx says, they have to turn their heads to do so. In actual fact this forum illustrates this for me. With my resolution I find it difficult to read long posts because they are too wide. If I reduce the width of the window it is much more easy on the eye.

However this is really a matter of opinion and mine is that fixed width websites are not a problem and they are certainly not one of the top ten design mistakes.

He also cites content that is not written for the web stating that it should be short and scannable etc. This is true of some sites but quality, information based sites must provide more content and hence more text. His own site is a good example of this. He also refers to "turning customers away". This assumes that all websites are looking for customers. Making broad generalisations like this is misleading. Not all websites are commercial and the rules are different for different types of website.

While on the subject of Nielsen's site have another look at this and ask yourself if it has been designed by someone whose methods you want to emulate ;o)

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