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InterfaceFix : Web usability articles, tips, reviews and inspiration

About this Blog

This blog provides web usability articles, tips, reviews and inspiration to help you get the most out of your site by making it easy to use.

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Hello everyone

I just wanted to let you know that this blog will cease to exist very soon (from 2 weeks to 1 month, or even less!), as I’m going to use it for something else that will replace it. Initially, it will be replaced with an Arabic blog revolving around the same concept, but later on this year, it will evolve into something bigger.

The contents of this blog (at least the best topics) will either be migrated to my new personal site, or a sub domain of this site. I haven’t decided yet. So, if you’re interested in an article or two here, you might want to save them now before they’re (temporarily) gone.

Hello everyone

Just wanted to let you know that I now (finally) have a proper personal site located at aldubayan.com.

Since it’s my personal site, it’s not really a replacement for this one, but I will post occassional posts there on usability and user experience if you’re interested. I think that’s going to be the best place for my posts, since I realized I can’t write frequently due to my busy schedule, but I would still like to share my thoughts in this field. So follow me there in case you’re interested. :)

Hi everyone

As you might have noticed, it has been a while since I’ve updated this blog. The reason is I barely have enough time anymore to write anything. Besides, the lack of user feedback was greatly discouraging, so I have absolutely no reason to keep writing (I blame myself for not marketing it well). Also, people interested in web usability tend to trust certain names only in the this field, and ignore the input and thoughts of everyone else.

So, I’ve decided to stop updating this site. I’m directing all my time and efforts to push web usability forward in a different and much more efficient way (no, it won’t be a blog). And this time, I’ll be targeting Arabic-speaking audience, since they have no one to look up to when it comes to web usability. If I had anything else to write about, I’ll do it in another site.

I’ll keep this site up until I find another place to move my articles to (probably my new portfolio site I’m currently working on). Once that’s done, I’ll shut down the blog and utilize the domain for something else.

Thanks for everyone for showing interest in what I’ve been writing, and for the few feedback messages I’ve received. I’ve learned a lot about usability just by writing about it.

It’s time to unsubscribe and move on….

In the late 90’s, when I first started using the internet, I remember that I had to worry about remembering only one log-in credentials: my e-mail’s. Nowadays, most of us have at least a few accounts online. And using the same user name for all sites to make things easier to remember doesn’t always work (unless you’re using an unusual name that no one would ever take like TheEternallyAwesomeMan777), so you end up having to remember multiple passwords and user names.

You will eventually forget either your user name, password or both for one or more of the site’s your using, and most sites online don’t seem to realize this, and show you something like this when you enter incorrect login information:

A Failed attempt to login at media temp account center

Mediatemple’s Account Center login asks for your “Primary Domain”, “Primary e-mail” and “Password”, and assumes that you will always remember the combination. People these days not only use multiple user names, but multiple e-mails for different things online, so relying on their memory at login pages isn’t a good idea.

Rapidshare’s login page handles this better. If you enter a correct user name and an incorrect password, it will inform you that the account does exist, but the password is incorrect:

A failed attempt to login at Rapidshare.com

So, in short: be nice, and remind your site’s users what they’ve forgotten exactly. They’ve got so many accounts to worry about. Sure, this might seem trivial, but trivial stuff add up and eventually frustrate people.

When planning for a web application, people tend to think that the more features their application has, the more competitive it will be. This is not true. In fact, this will probably end up contributing to their application’s failure more than increasing its chances of success.

People use a small percentage of the features in any application they use (we all do). They only use what gets the job done. Trying to pack more features into your web application could potentially complicate your application, force your users to spend more time learning your application rather than using it, and might end up encouraging them to try a competitor’s product.

So how do you avoid that?

Basically don’t develop or include a feature in your application unless it’s directly related to the application’s goal. For example, if you have an image upload application, then any feature that wouldn’t help users upload and share their images easily would be irrelevant here, and would just complicate things for your users.

Web applications like Flickr, Delicious, Basecamp do the same thing, which makes them so successful, since they do one thing and excel at it.

When making web forms for our web sites (i.e: registration forms, contact forms, post-a-new-thread forms…etc), we tend to populate some fields with default values. It’s usually either a random value or the first value in a drop-down list for example.

However, there’s a better way to utilize default values to reduce users’ efforts in filling forms as much as possible, which is using smart default values (not an official term). These values would mostly be at least close to what a user would choose, so that he could do minimal adjustments and fill forms faster.

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The concept of FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) has been around on the web for a long time now. It’s an important page since people tend to resort to it when they can’t find their way around a web site or web application, or can’t understand what you’re doing or how. Its concept is so simple and straight-forward, yet so many web sites don’t know how to make a proper FAQ page.

So, here are some tips that will help you build a helpful FAQ page for your site’s visitors:

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Lavasoft's product viewer

This is the first post in the “Innovative or Confusing?” series that highlights various web sites’ attempts at being innovative or just different, and whether their attempts actually work or end up confusing visitors.

Today we’ve got Lavasoft’s product viewer. But before you continue reading the article, check it out at Lavasoft’s home products page. Try to use it for a few moments to browse through their products, then come back here.

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Book Cover

Scope

The book covers:

  • The qualities that make a web application great (in detail)
  • Which features you should (or should not) include in your web application
  • Explains how people tend to behave when using web applications, how to turn them into frequent users and how to make your application(s) easier for them to use.

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Meet your enemies!!

If you’ve read something about web usability and user experience, you probably already realize how valuable they are, and how much they significantly contribute to a site’s success (which is a lot by the way).

Web usability, however, seems to be fairly new to the average person involved in creating and/or managing sites, especially in businesses. And, unfortunately, the majority still don’t care about it since they can’t see how it could help them succeed. In fact, those people might be against its practices, since they conflicts with how they envision a site should be.

So, in this article, I’ll write about 4 characters (or positions) that are involved in making and managing web sites the most, along with examples of how they tend to think (stereotypically) based on my experience with each one of them, and how to respond to them and hopefully convince them otherwise.

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