Category Archives: Usability

5 Articles you should read: 13 April 2010

Document Accessibility Should Begin at the Author Level, By Deborah Kaplan and Monir ElRayes. Government Technology, April 9, 2010. "…Significant progress has been made to improve the accessibility of content presented on Web sites, often in HTML format. However, the accessibility of other electronic formats, such as Microsoft Word documents and PDFs, still lags behind and is often added as an afterthought, if at all. Given the enormous volume of content created daily — often in the form of documents authored by individuals who know little about accessibility — this means far too much material is inaccessible to far too many people…."

SEO 101 – Parts 1 – 16, by Stoney deGeyter, Search Engine Guide, January 19, 2010 – April 1, 2010.

Part 2: Everything You Need To Know About Title Tags
Part 3: Everything You Need To Know About Meta Description and Keyword Tags
Part 4: Everything You Need To Know About Heading Tags and Alt Attributes
Part 5: Everything You Need To Know About Domain Names
Part 6: Everything You Need To Know About Search Engine Friendly URLs & Broken Links
Part 7: Everything You Need To Know About Site Architecture and Internal Linking
Part 8: Everything You Need To Know About Keywords
Part 9: Everything You Need To Know About Keyword Core Terms
Part 10: Everything You Need To Know About Keyword Qualifiers
Part 11: Everything You Need To Know About SEO Copywriting
Part 12: Everything You Need To Know About Page Content
Part 13: Everything You Need To Know About Links
Part 14: Everything You Need To Know About Link Anatomy
Part 15: Everything You Need To Know About Linking

Search and Rescue: How to Become Findable and Shareable in Social Media, By Brian Solis, Search Engine Watch, April 1, 2010. " Search isn’t an isolated experience. The act of looking for information is now fused with validation, which means the socialization of search will unite discovery with context and relationships. It all begins with where we purposely search for relevant content and also where we respond to interesting information that crosses our path…" Then read Optimize Your Brand for Sharing and Social Search in 11 Steps, By Brian Solis, Search Engine Watch, April 2, 2010. "Yesterday, we focused on how to make your brand findable and shareable in social media. A white paper by Gigya validates the shift to, and resulting importance of, social search and its dependence on crowd participation. Online businesses must optimize in order to earn referral traffic from social networks. .."

The 8-Step SEO Strategy, Step 1: Define Your Target Audience and Their Needs, Posted by laura, SEOmoz Blog, on April 6th, 2010. "… The first step in most marketing campaigns, Search Marketing included, is to start by defining your target audience.  Your target audience is a defined set of people who you are marketing your product to…"

Horizontal Attention Leans Left. Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox, April 6, 2010. Summary: Web users spend 69% of their time viewing the left half of the page and 30% viewing the right half. A conventional layout is thus more likely to make sites profitable…


How to write Easy English – Workshops from Scope Victoria

Workshops being held May – June 2009

This full day workshop is presented by the Accessible Information Unit, Communication Resource Centre, Scope.

Find out how you could increase the number of people who can access your services and organisation. The presenter will take you through the steps to develop accessible written information. You will start working on a document from your own workplace.

The workshop is suitable for people who write information for their workplace. This includes resources, documents, plans, posters, brochures, fliers and for the web.

Where and when:

Monday 4th May 2009 at Scope, Glenroy

Thursday 25th June 2009 at Holmesglen TAFE, Chadstone


$242 (Including GST)

Includes Lunch, coffee/tea and handouts.

For more information:

Phone: 03 9843 2000


Scope has also published: Easy English – Writing Style Guide.

The perenial fate of the help desk

Usability was an issue even in medieval times.

Web usability and SEO

I was lucky enough to attend the Nielsen Norman Group’s Usability Week session on Fundamentals of Web Usability in Melbourne last week. Although the content was very US focused there were some good takeaways from the day from a SEO perspective for those of us managing Australian websites. Here are mine:

1. The first page visitors go to after search:

  • 25% home page
  • 75% visit deep links within a site

So make sure your pages deep within your site stand alone and are not dependent on visitors entering via your home page for context.

2. Links – think of them as a promise – the visitor has an expectation they are going to get something so make your link text as descriptive and meaningful as possible so they are not disappointed.

3. Search engine results pages (SERPs):

  • 52% of people will scroll SERPs
  • only 5% of people will view past the first page of SERPs
  • 31% of people do not click on any listing in a SERPs
  • 47% only visited one result on a SERP
  • 13% visited two results
  • 4% visited three results
  • 5% visited more than four results

What does this mean? You need to be the first, second or third organic result on the first page of SERPs if you want to get a visitor

4. Query strings – In 2008 people were searching

  • 1 word 20%
  • 2 words 26%
  • 3 words 20%
  • 4 words 16%
  • 5+ words 18%

So 54% of searchers are searching for 3+ words in their search strings and 80% of searchers are looking for 2+ words. Searchers are getting very specific about what they want to find. OneStat provides additional supporting evidence that most people use 2 word phrases in search engines.

5. Focus your site on the user not the organization. Searchers don’t always want to navigate the site they way you do so present them with a good site search facility. 82% of searches are covered by a 30 character search box, so make sure your site search box is at least this wide.

6. Different literacy levels – People with high literacy levels scan headlines, bolded words and links and like summaries. People with low literacy levels can’t scan so they skip. US stats (National Assessment of Adult Literacy 2003; 19,000 Americans) reveal:

  • High literacy people (graduate degree level) comprise 13% of the population
  • Mainstream (high school reading level) comprise 44%
  • Low (High school dropout) comprise 29%
  • Very low literacy comprise 14%

Australia in comparison varies approximately -2% – so does not differ that much. Know your audience – find out what their literacy levels are. Write at a level your audience can understand. Jakob Nielsen has some additional information in his Alert Box column entitled: How Little Do Users Read?

7. Tag Lines – On your home page have a tag line about who you are and what you do – helpful for your visitors and for search engine spiders.

8. Less is more. Follow the rule of twos! Put the important information first. ie

  • first two words of a headline, page title, list item link
  • first two lines of a paragraph
  • first 2 paragraphs of a page
  • first 2 search results on a SERP

are the most important.

There were no real surprises but its good to get the evidence you need to reinforce why you should be making changes to your website to enhance its usability.

PS: If you want to read more about search usability – Shari Thurow has written an article entitled Understanding Search Usability which you might find interesting.