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Newsletter issue #38 - 1st May 2007

This issue

Hello and welcome to the May edition of the Webcredible newsletter!

In this issue:

  • Feature article: Split A/B testing
  • Top tip: Improve error messages
  • Useful program: Morae
  • Top link: Usability.gov
  • New articles in April
  • Webcredible news in April

Enjoy!

Feature article: Split A/B testing

There can often be debate within any organisation as to the best solution for a usability problem, with no one really knowing the optimal solution. Rather than letting the person that shouts the loudest get his or her own way, a better solution can be to test two solutions in a live environment. Whichever performs the best is clearly the superior solution. Welcome to split A/B testing!

Read this article in full at www.webcredible.co.uk/user-friendly-resources/web-usability/ab-testing.shtml.

Top tip: Improve error messages

Effective error messages are a crucial component to any online form. No matter how hard you try to pre-empt errors, users will always make mistakes when entering information online. Help your users (and yourself) out by always adhering to the following essential (and simple) guidelines for error messaging:

  1. Error summary clearly provided Users need to be informed immediately if they've made an error on a form. This could be in the form of an alert box (only if there are 3 or fewer form fields in total) or ideally a written description at the top of the page. The error summary should be the very first thing users see after submitting the form.
  2. Errors clearly highlighted next to individual form fields A helpful message should be provided next to each erroneous item, ideally in a red colour (and with an error icon) so it stands out. If the error occurs in form fields below the fold then when users scroll down they'll be unable to see the error summary at the top of the page.
  3. Explicit instructions provided on how to correct errors Instructions on fixing errors should be highly explicit in explaining what's wrong and what needs fixing. Error messages should also not assign any blame to users and avoid words like 'error' or 'mistake'.

Useful program: Morae

Before Morae came along setting up a usability lab was prohibitively expense for many companies. Not so anymore. Morae allows you to run, record and have live viewing of usability testing sessions all at a relatively inexpensive cost.

You can get this handy program at www.techsmith.com/morae.asp.

Top link: Usability.gov

The Usability.gov website provides a wealth of usability information for US goverment websites. Usability of course applies to every website so the large amount of information here will be useful to you no matter what your site does.

Access this useful site at www.usability.gov.

New articles in April

Read this and many other articles at www.webcredible.co.uk/user-friendly-resources.

Webcredible news in April

  • Usability report for online motor insurance now available
  • Online conversion seminar now sold out!
  • Webcredible to exhibit and present at Internet World

Read these news stories in full at www.webcredible.co.uk/about-us/latest-news.shtml.

Vote in our poll!

We're running a poll to find out how you use your local government websites. We'd really appreciate it if you took a moment to vote in our poll - it'll only take about 10 seconds of your time!.

Put your opinion across and vote in our poll at www.webcredible.co.uk/user-friendly-resources/polls.

Training courses

Courses continue to sell out well in advance! Our next training courses will take place in our training centre in Aldgate, London in May and June:

  • Usability testing training - Monday 11th June. For more information and to reserve your place before it fills up please consult our usability testing training page.
  • Web writing training - Tuesday 15th May & Tuesday 12th June. For more information and to reserve your place before it fills up please consult our intermediate web writing training page.
  • Web usability training - Wednesday 16th May & Wednesday 13th June. For more information and to reserve your place before it fills up please consult our web usability training page.
  • Web accessibility training - Thursday 17th May & Thursday 14th June. For more information and to reserve your place before it fills up please consult our web accessibility training page.
  • Advanced CSS training - Friday 18th May & Friday 15th June. For more information and to reserve your place before it fills up please consult our advanced CSS training page.

About Webcredible

Based in London, UK, Webcredible is a user experience consultancy. Tailor-made usability, accessibility & design solutions include:

Please contact us on 020 7423 6320 or , or consult www.webcredible.co.uk for further information.

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