Friday, 31 July 2009

Click analysis tools

I've been using a click analysis tool - Crazy Egg - for over a year now and find it a useful addition to webstats. There's another notable click analysis provider - Click Density. I suspect that Click Density is a better, more sophisticated tool but I went with Crazy Egg because their free service was much more generous when I was dipping my toe in the water.

For me, Crazy Egg does two things that our webstats package Google Analytics doesn't do:
  • It shows me which links are most popular on a particular page, when the same link appears more than once
  • It breaks down time to click statistics into modal groups (less than 1 sec, less than 2 sec, less than 5 sec, 5-10 sec etc). Google Analytics only provides an average, which is obviously skewed every time a site visitor stops mid-surf and wanders off to make a cuppa.
It's great to stick click analysis on a homepage for a few days to illustrate with a heatmap all the click hotspots, and to show to site manager just how many people click through in a matter of seconds. That's the vast majority, in case you hadn't guessed.

All those carefully crafted welcome messages that just never get read...

Crazy Egg
Click Density

Prototyping with Axure

This week I've been on a course on Axure - a piece of software I've played with in the past but not used in earnest.

I was amazed at how quickly I could knock up prototypes for a range of search interfaces we've been comparing.

I've been using Visio for a good while now, but am definitely an Axure convert.

Axure - "...for rapidly creating wireframes, prototypes and specifications for applications and web sites."
AX Trainers - Axure training delivered by usability professionals

Monday, 27 July 2009

Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug

Absolutely the best book I've read on usability, bar none. Everyone should own a copy.

The book’s tagline reads: “A common sense approach to web usability”. It’s exactly that.

Easily read in a matter of a few hours, it will leave you thinking differently about your website and the ‘obvious’ mistakes we all make.

Religious debates cartoon from Don't Make Me Think by Steve KrugThe chapters on how to conduct usability testing are available to download from Steve Krug’s website:

Steve Krug’s website:

A couple of chapters have also been turned into articles for Adobe. They give a real flavour of what you can expect from the book.

How we really use the web - Scanning, satisficing, and muddling through
Usability as common courtesy

"Religious debates" cartoon from the book. If you've never experienced this as you've worked on a website you're either very fortunate or you work alone.

Checking content scannability: Five second tests

Five second tests are a quick and easy way to check the quality of your content pages.

I use this technique informally all the time when I write content. It's a great way to hone your writing.

Well worth giving this a try.

Five second tests article from

Follow up

I've since discovered and blogged a podcast on 5 second tests, also by Jared Spool:

5 second test podcast - content usability

Prototyping resources

Prototyping - in a nutshell, it's testing new developments out before you either build the website or change an existing one. Saves a lot of pain in the long run. And probably a few heated discussions too.

For those new to the idea of prototyping:

Introductory article on paper prototyping from

Prototyping with MS Visio is pretty quick and easy. Particularly with this tutorial and free templates:

Visio templates for paper prototyping, plus supporting article, from

Monday, 20 July 2009

Nielsen in Edinburgh September 09

Well, not quite.

It doesn't look like Jakob Nielsen himself will be visiting, but his company - Nielsen Norman Group - will be delivering training over five days in the week beginning 14 September.

The sessions cover information architecture, website and application usability.

Agenda for Nielsen Norman Group training in Edinburgh, September 09

Customer opinions vs traditional marketing

This week's article from Gerry McGovern covers ground well known to many these days - online customers place a great deal of value in the opinions of other customers.

A couple of bits of research he quotes:

According to a July article in Revolution magazine, "In the UK 68 per cent of internet users were found to trust online consumer opinions, while only 58 per cent said they trust brand websites."

The article also refers to a Harris Interactive poll which found that "46 per cent of US internet users say they ignore banner ads, with just one per cent finding banner ads helpful in making a purchase decision."

A recent Nielsen study found that, "Personal recommendations and opinions posted online are the most trusted forms of advertising among Internet users around the world."

So while collecting student quotes and graduate profiles may be a bit of a pain, it's probably well worth the effort to keep them relevant and up to date.

Gerry goes on to his usual mantra. No harm in repeating it...

To succeed on the Web we need to change our mentality from seeing ourselves as a master to seeing ourselves as an apprentice. The customer is the master and we need to learn about what they need to do right now, and help them do that.

The web customer is purposeful, directed, action-oriented. They are on a journey and we need first and foremost to help them get to their destination. Then and only then have we any chance of introducing to them the idea of taking a new journey.

Web turns marketing and communications on its head - full article on Gerry McGovern's website

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Edinburgh usability community

Businesses operating in Edinburgh:

Monthly meetings of the Scottish Usability Professionals Association (SUPA) are often worth a look. Usability businesses and a range of people with an active interest in usability get together for presentations, seminars and ale:

Scottish Usability Professionals Association

Steve Krug on the least you can do about usability

"Steve Krug talks about informal usability testing and how the minimum of work can give you extraordinary results."

A great opportunity to see a truly engaging usability expert present for free. The presentation is about 40 minutes.

I love the approach Steve takes to usability. It's easy. It's for everyone - not just usability nerds. Manager, programmers, marketers, content owners - you can't afford to ignore the basics.

Steve Krug' presentation on the least you can do about usability