A Scenic Tour of the Online World

Usability 101 – What Comes Before ABC?

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Jakob Nielsen has arguably done more to advance usability
on the web than any other single person, so I’m certainly not going
to slag him, even if I don’t always agree with his conclusions. But
sometimes … Recent post on UseIt.com concerns alphabetical
sorting for lists and menus.

And I agree that a menu like this is bad:

  • $5 – $10
  • $11-$50
  • $51 – $100
  • less than $5

Clearly, “Less than $5″ should be first, of course. But that’s so self-evident
it boggles my mind that this is what a high-level usability expert
is being paid to assess. Great work if you can get it, but you
don’t have to be a usability expert, information architect or
top-flight web developer to realize this is just a bad idea. For a
site – from a major online retailer, no less – to go live like this
simply means someone wasn’t paying attention. And I think that’s
the lesson here. Pay attention and make sure the techies aren’t
running the show. Give the marketing or other communications folks
the lead. A menu like this is something they’ll notice a lot more
quickly than many techies would. Even better, give them the budget
to do some user testing and get feedback from people who don’t see
your site all day, every day.


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