I used to say on my blog that I was a big Omnigraffle fan. And I definitely was. Just as I used to be a big Visio fan. But that was before: since then, I have discovered Axure. For budget or time reasons, most medium-sized agencies (the ones I have worked for at least) prefer not to invest in Axure. It is a complex software, and the licence price makes it a tough decision to invest money and time for the teams for self-training. Visio and Omnigraffle, or even Balsamiq, are definitely simpler to apprehend and start wireframing with. After a few months working with Axure, I figured I would give a few advice, based on my recent discovery of the software, to beginners who were afraid to make the move, just as I was. Please don’t get me wrong: I still like Omnigraffle a lot. But Axure has made my prototyping funnier and a lot more interactive.
Uh oh, sorry but the page you are looking for cannot be found… Should a 404 error page stop with these very basic words? Nowadays 404 pages have become a creative challenge for websites, and some, like Gog.com or Blizzard.com, have really put some work to create unique and original pages. (There is also Videotron‘s unicorn… The simplest is to check benchmarks like 404notfound.fr.) But creativity is not the core objective of these pages, is it? When you look at the context, 404 pages appear when the user hastried to access a page that does not exist. It could be a mistake in the URL or a broken link on your website. This makes the 404 page’s main objective to redirect the user to relevant content, and avoid him closing the website and leaving forever. Here are a few ideas to improve 404 pages and go over the dead-end they once represented.
I am a big fan of Omnigraffle, and I use it for wireframes, processes, diagrams, funnels, and sitemaps. And this is specifically the subject of this post. Whether your favorite conception tool is Visio, Axure, InDesign or Powerpoint, there is a point when you don’t want to become too specific on a sitemap. For example when you index the contents of an existing website, or want to explore several architectures. All the above softs (are great but, speaking of sitemaps) make you think about layout. Powerpoint being the worst, in my point of view. And thinking about the size of your sitemap, or not being able to print it out, gives you less time to focus on the heart of the problem: Information Architecture. Read more to understand how I became a huge fan of Slickplan.
Do users scroll down the pages of our websites, or do they not? That is definitely a good question to be asked. Nielsen still rules, with his 80-20 theory: 80% of users’ attention is focused on the first 20% of the page. Though, some websites choose huge vertical layouts and parallax scrolling. Without going as far as The World’s Longest Website (which is quite extreme), some websites use parallax very well. Personnaly, I love Smokey Bones website. Why not scroll, afterall… The UX in me just advises to help users while scrolling down. And here are a few ideas I gathered for not letting users down… the page unattended.
1. Fixed navigation and anchors
This is why Smokey Bones works so well, in my opinion (well, except the design and animated gif effects). The website itself is made for a vertical scrolling, with the main menu being anchors in the one and only page. The navigation is unique and easy to catch, because it still obeys usual best practices for navigation.
Summer sales are an important moment for retailers. What influence do they have on Internet? What kind of behavior can an e-retailer expect from its users? Here is a very interesting diagram by ifop and spartoo.com, with a few figures on consumers’ special behaviors and expectations during Summer sales in France.
On the 12th January, I had the chance to be invited by the student organization Sorbonne Symposium to their symposium on Neuromarketing. Neurosciences play a role in usability, and the symposium specially covered Functional Magnetic resonance imaging. The idea is to use a scanner (as used in a hospital) to measure the effect a website (or an ad, or any kind of stimulus) has on our brain activity. So we can measure (1) which functional zone is activated in our brain, (2) with which intensity, and (3) whether it is positive or a negative effect.
I’ve been using Omnigraffle for a few years now. But I only recently managed to crop images directly in it. It’s definitely useful, as it avoids opening Photoshop and lets you try different alternatives directly on your wireframe. It was quite evident in Visio, but quite hard to find in Omnigraffle, which makes it kind of a secret. Here is a few steps tutorial to learn how to crop images in Omnigraffle.
Step 1: import your image
This part is easy, right? You just drag and drop your image on your wireframe. The image is automatically imported as stretched. You have to change this in order to crop your image.
Why do users abandon shopping carts? This very relevant ad for Google Analytics shows some evidence in an entertaining way. And I like it! Just wonder if your website doesn’t ask too many questions, or complicated data to recover. Everybody has to gain from a simpler buying process.
Big or small footer? I recently came to this question regarding an oline news website: is it stil a good thing to offer a big footer, with as many links as possible, and a summary of all keywords? The question remains unanswered speaking about SEO: it seems that multiple links in the footer can even be a bad point for Google, and here’s why:
Search engines seem to devaluate links in the footer.
Links in the footer are often not the first links on a page to a URL, which means they don’t have so much impact.
Users rarely scroll down to the links in the footer.
The more links in a page, the less important each becomes.
I found this article from SEO Moz on footer link optimization very interesting. Randfish also shares examples of good and bad examples. Personnaly, I like Firefox footer:
It offers a reasonable amount of links and information.
The design is nice and attractive, though simple.
I like the social and newsletter features.
Because SEO rules for footer optimization have changed, displaying a footer with thousands links is not worth any longer. The trend is to let go huge and unreadable footers, and work on usable footers. They are not any longer read only by search engines: it is time to think some users might read them.
Visual Website Optimizer offers AB and MVT testing services, like Google Website Optimizer, but more complete, if it was possible. I won’t be able to test this service right now, as the price ($49 monthly), though affordable, won’t make me reny Google almighty. But well, maybe, one day… Anyway, Paras Chopra, the founder of this service published a very interesting guide to AB testing in Smashing Magazine. And a very useful free application on the website allows to calculate the duration your AB test should be, according to the traffic and number of combinations. Thanks!