The author details the experiences of users with eight different sites (EN: This was eight chapters in the book with many screenshots - I've combined them into one.) Worth noting: the sites are listed in the order of usability as found by the testing they conducted.
Edmund's is a resource for consumers researching for the purchase of a vehicle. The site is largely "shovelware" from the company's database, and was virtually free of any graphic design (it's a text-only site). However, it was the most successful in usability testing.
- The home page was essentially one big table of contents
- The site uses long links with descriptive titles - users remarked that they knew exactly what they were going to get
- There are also many redundant links and alternate paths to the same information, suiting various mental models
The HP Web site is designed to enable users to review product information about their computers, and also provides some basic corporate information.
- Redundant links to content, suiting various mental models
- Terse links, resulting in users bouncing back and forth when they arrived at a destination they did not expect
- Links and page titles as graphics, which users found difficult to read
- A straightforward search form, btu really cryptic and unfathomable results screen
WebSaver is a site that specializes in one product: annuities. It presents information about several options, but does not facilitate side-by-side comparison.
- Users were frustrated by the number of purely decorative graphics
- Users felt the content of the site was too marketing-oriented
- Horizontal rules to divide sections of a page caused some users to stop scrolling prematurely
- Links were too terse and too similar - users expressed an uncertainty about which option to follow
Travelocity is a site that enables users to make travel reservations and do research on resort destinations. The site was created by Sabre, as a method of giving individuals direct access to their reservation system in a user-friendly manner.
- Movement in banners was distracting to users, man many scrolled immediately to move them off-screen
- Navigation to perform tasks was successful due to simple and straightforward language ("make reservations," "flight schedules," etc.), though some items were ambiguous
- Users would skim the "news" presented on pages, but expressed some frustration in that it wasn't relevant to their tasks
- Users universally resented having to create an account to check fares
- The login interface befuddled some users, who attempted to enter passwords for other sites or their ISP
- The error messages in the account-creation flow did not give them a clear sense of what they'd done wrong, or how to correct it.
- The site contained forms that were stacked vertically, so users often filled in unnecessary fields and clicked the wrong submit button.
"Inc." is a companion Web site to a magazine for small businesses. Users were asked a number of informational questions for which they would need to find articles to provide answers.
- The top-level navigation had many short and abstract links, such as "databases," "software," an "web links"
- Users didn't avail themselves of the various search engine features, and some were confused by the complexity of the search interface.
- In spite of the sophisticated search form, the results list was abstract and users did not see the relevance of results to their search terms.
- Many links were overlooked because they were embedded in paragraphs of text, and appeared in a nonstandard color
- Contact information was buried in a page of marketing fluff
- Banner ads located in the middle of a page caused users to assume they had reached the bottom, and to stop scrolling.
The C-Net Web site provides information technology resources, including articles, product reviews, software downloads, and links to other site. Users had a great deal of difficulty finding answers to simple questions on this site.
- The site has navigation on both the right and left columns of the page. Users ignored the second sidebar as being marketing-oriented, because it contained more graphics.
- When users clicked away to external Web sites, there was no warning, and they were often confused about how to get back.
- The site offered no clear link back to its own home page, requiring users to repeatedly click the "back" button to return to the home page.
- Users ignored breadcrumb links to navigate among second-tier menus and instead returned to the home page each time
- Some interfaces were unclear: would a "product finder" lead a person to a page to buy a product, a review of that product, or a link to the manufacturer's Web site?
- Because information was separated by its nature (article versus product review), users often looked in the wrong place for information and assumed it was not on the site.
The Fidelity Web site provides information about the company's investment products and services for individual and corporate investors.
- All pages on the site are short, presumably to avoid scrolling. Users were frustrated by the number of clicks it took to do anything on the site.
- The navigation in the sidebar was too detailed, and many links were wrapped, causing confusion among users. Link headers were often graphics without ALT text, meaning the users had to wait for the entire page to load to correctly find their way to the page they needed.
- The site map provides only extended description of the links in the main navigation bar, which frustrated users who expected it to be a more comprehensive index.
- While the individual/corporate distinction on the home page helped users enter the right part of the site, search engine results mixed content from both sides
- A link to "home" did not necessarily go back to the site's home page - it would often go to a menu at a lower level within the site
- A "Fidelity Worldwide" link was presumed to mean international funds rather than links to other Fidelity Web sites.
- The site provided a glossary page that was helpful to some users, but others gave up on it due to the long load time (it was a very long page)
- The search engine sucked: instructions on conducting a "Boolean search" intimidated some users out of using the search engine at all, the search results showed only the title (from title tag) or file name and provided no information to indicate what the page contained.
- The site had a very detailed FAQ. Users who found information easily in the FAQ came to rely on it, rather than going to other sections of the site to gather information.
The Disney site provides information on the entire "empire" of children's entertainment offered by children. However, the test design forced users to focus entirely on tasks related to the theme park.
- The site used abstract logos for navigation, requiring users to click an image to "discover" what was behind it. Users were decidedly not amused by the scavenger-hunt approach to site navigation.
- The site contained numerous image maps. Very few test subjects used them, and most went straight for the redundant text links beneath, or elsewhere on the page.
- The animation on the home page annoyed users so much than many covered it with a hand while looking for information on the site.
- In addition to wrapping, some links also broke across multiple columns, such that the term "visit our" appeared at the bottom of one column and "store online" at the top of the next.
- There were links out to separate sites for Disneyland and Disney World, and users who clicked out to one of these sites had difficulty getting back to the other.