Toronto skyline

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like, design is how it works. - Steve Jobs

Recently attended the Toronto session of the Usability Week 2011 training seminar organised by Nielsen Norman Group. I was able to attend the Web Design class and it was quite fascinating to learn about all the research findings pertaining to how people view pages.

  • People tend to scan through web pages till they find what they are looking for
  • Use text with narrow paragraphs, so readers can easily move from one line to the next
  • Avoid welcome copy i.e “welcome to our site…” etc. (that was cool last century, not now)
  • Visual hierarchy is very important, make your headings larger and bolder and use the HTML header tags properly (H1 before H2 before H3 etc.)
  • Keep important info e.g navigation above the fold, avoid layouts like this
  • Only 1% of users turn off Javascript
  • College students are not really better than baby-boomers at using the internet but they think they are, some have up to 25 tabs open at once
  • Use larger fonts, even footer text should be at least 10px
  • For mobile applications space the form elements and buttons further apart because of user’s “fat finger”

Those are some of the salient points from the seminar. Apart from the learning experience, i also had the opportunity to network with other professionals in the same field. Some even came all the way from the US.