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Usability means meeting user expectations

By MaryWeilage Editor ·
This week's Design and Usability Tactics e-newsletter describes a scenario in which author Michael Meadhra was working on a client site that needed to be redesigned because it didn't meet users' expectations.

Does Michael Meadhra's recent experience sound all too familiar? Have you redesigned a site because of users' expectations? What usability edicts would like to pass on to your fellow Web builders? Share your thoughts on usability and users' expectations.

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Trying to put too much on one page

by ntcse In reply to Usability means meeting u ...

One lesson learned:

On an internal site we designed a year ago, we made some bad calls in terms of usability. One example was the "Manage Employees" page.

The idea was for the user to be able to manage the company's employee information all in one powerful page. At the top of the page, we had a form to add the employee. Under that, we had boxes for each employee already added that had a form and an Update button. Under that, there was a preview of how the employees information would be displayed on their corporate website.

As I suspected, the users dreaded this interface. It confused them seeing so much on one page, it was different to what they were accustomed to and alot of scrolling was needed to find the information they were looking for.

The proper solution: split it up into 4 pages.

A. Listing Page: where users see a summary table of employees (ID, First Name, Last Name), sorted in the same order it gets displayed on their corporate site. There are "View", "Edit" and "Delete" links next to each employee in the table. Above the list, there is a big "Add New Employee" link.
B. Add Employee Page: A page with a single form. There are "Cancel" and "Preview >>" buttons.
C. Edit Employee Page: Exactly same as Add Employee page but with ID also displayed.
D. View Employee: A page with the employee information shown as it would be shown on the website. There is a "<< Back" button and possibly a "Confirm Add Employee" or "Confirm Update Employee" depending on which page you came from.

The lesson: less pages doesn't mean simplifying the site for the user. Each page should have a limited scope so the user can grasp its purpose. As long as the user can intuitively organize the extra pages in his brain and the navigation is there, it will make the site more usable.

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