Good content is sometimes not enough, the users must reach it so they can see it's good!

Modals are killing the spirit

Posted: March 9th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Good practices, Patterns, To do | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

One of the worse things to put on your website/application is a modal alert. I’m not glad with the modal forms either. The only modal thing i can live with must be the lightbox style view of images, if the images are large, this is probably the best way to view them fast and with the smallest effort.

The javascript alerts are the mother of all modals. Why in God’s name would you want a box to pop, tell you something you already know and have to click ONE SINGLE BUTTON to get rid of it? This is sick.

And i’ll tell you why that’s so frustrating: once a modal alert pops in you cant do anything else, you cannot use any of the browser’s functions, cant see on another tab what the terms on the alert are meaning, can’t go back either. This is worse when the message is not clear and you have to confirm something with “OK” and “CANCEL”. “Ok what? Cancel what? Is this gonna ruin the work i’ve done so far if i get it wrong?”. Not funny.

I’m a little bit of a hypocrite. I use javascript confirmation when deleting something. You would think that’s a good thing but it’s not, try to delete 10 things one by one and you’ll know what i mean.

- instead of alerts use inline messages (see the yellow bg ones on Gmail) are the most elegant and usable solution to a problem i have ever seen, non intrusive, space saving, time saving. If the messages disappears after a while it’s perfect.

- Instead confirming a delete let the user delete stuff and provide a “UNDO” option. (It’s said that the undo functionality is the greatest way to let user explore, fuckup, recover, the best way to change the user from beginner to intermediate). Of course, this is no easy job for a developer. Providing such a feature is a real pain in the ass, that’s why you don’t see it on many web applications, that’s why i break the usability rules and ask users for confirmation when deleting.

Making users stay on your website

Posted: March 6th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: To do | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Let’s say you have a website or an online application and naturally, you want the users that get there to stay there. It’s not really the fact that the user leaves the website or how long he browses the site that interests me, but the question if he/she walks away frustrated or happy.

What does a user do when he/she get’s frustrated? User leaves, you say.

Yes and no. Yes he leaves, but not in a instance. Studies show that the user tries to get things working, he struggles a bit until he gives up and leaves. There are many ways to keep a user on your site, to make him feel ok, we’ll talk about a few of them in the future, but here’s the most important:

Make the user think he needs to stay!

How do you do that? Well, it sounds simple but it’s really not: cover one of his needs, scratch one of his itches, give him something he wants. The primary the need is, the badly the user will stick to your website and use it.

Believe me, if air would be available only on your website, you’ll have about 6-7 billion users on it every moment.

Set a primary goal for your website/application and stick to it, strip down all the nonsense that get in the way of the user and let him reach what he came for, he will come back, write about it, tell friends. This is the most common mistake the young entrepreneurs make: fill the application with lots of features, information, colors, distractions and don’t make a easy and fast path to the main goal of the user – the itch scratcher.

The rest, where do you put the register button so the user doesn’t leave until he registers… ARE DETAILS. You can have a perfectly usable and optimized interface and still an unsuccessful application. Users want to get the job done fast, easy and free if it’s possible.