When it comes to mobile website usability, there are many more things to consider because of the inhibited screen size. The following are seven things you should think about during the design process and check for after your mobile website is complete to ensure that mobile users are getting the best experience.
1. Look for responsive template designs and test them before purchasing.
If you are in re-design mode for your website, be sure to be on the lookout for templates that have a responsive design or are designated as mobile-friendly. Then test the template you are considering on a mobile device before purchasing it. To do this, simply go to the demo site for the template on your mobile phone to see if the design works with your browser. If it doesn’t, see if the template designer offers mobile customization as well.
2. Download mobile compatibility packages for WordPress.
For those using WordPress as a CMS on their own domain (not WordPress.com), you can look into plugins like WPtouch or WordPress Mobile Pack. These plugins will detect whether a visitors is coming to your website from a mobile device and present them with a mobile-friendly design instead of your main one. Be sure to go through the options for these plugins carefully to make sure they are displaying the pages you want visible to mobile visitors and test your website on a mobile device to make sure everything is configured correctly.
3. Don’t use popups or floating elements on your mobile website.
Outside of running into a website that only uses Flash on an iPhone, the next most irritating thing on a mobile website is a popup or piece of floating content. The challenge with these elements is that they are hard to close because the X is generally somewhere outside of where you can zoom. That or there is no way to close it, and no matter where you scroll, the floating social share button, ad, etc. keeps covering the main content. Sure those are easy to manage on a desktop browser, but make sure they don’t appear on your mobile website.
4. Rethink paginated content.
A popular trend on blogs is to paginate posts, so instead of having 1,000+ words on one page, it will be spread across two or three pages. And while this sounds like a great idea for mobile as it would decrease the load time by having less to load on one page, here is the issue. Someone who is in an area with a choppy 3G signal is going be able to load page, but not the rest. Chances are, they will get so frustrated that they won’t try to get back to that content later either.
5. Offer the option to visit the full website.
Assuming that your main website is not all done with Flash, be sure to offer visitors the opportunity to use the full site instead of the mobile website. This way, if they are looking for something not available on your mobile website, they can still access it via their mobile device. Of course, if you do offer this option, make sure that your site isn’t set to automatically redirect every time someone lands on a page from a mobile device. Otherwise, they’ll almost get to where they want to go and then get shipped back to the mobile website again.
6. Add your phone number throughout your website in the text, not as an image.
Smartphones allow website browsers to click on a phone number anywhere on a website to call it directly, but only if the phone number is in the text of the website. A lot of businesses tend to put their phone number in an image just for design / formatting purposes, but this doesn’t help people contact you when needed. As a side benefit, having a local phone number in the text will also help you with local search rankings.
7. Test, test, and test again.
Web designers know to test their latest projects in a variety of browsers because not all browsers are created equal. The same goes for mobile devices. What works flawlessly on your iPhone may not work so well on an Android. Your best bet is to try your mobile website on a few different mobile platforms including iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows. The easiest way to do it if you don’t happen to own one or more of these devices is to slip into your local electronics or mobile sales store and run a few quick tests on the demo devices. Try to test key conversion areas such as submission forms or mobile shopping carts to ensure a good experience for your mobile users from start to finish.
What mobile website usability tips would you like to add to this list? Please do so in the comments!
INDUSTRY: Web Development
SilverStripe is an open source Content Management System (CMS) and framework used by governments, businesses and non-profit organizations around the world. It is a platform for professional web development teams to create websites, intranets and web applications. The platform is open source, and the community needed to be easier to navigate for the community on SilverStripe.
SilverStripe.org had grown, and information and code was scattered all over the place. New users had difficulty finding what they were looking for.
SilverStripe set up an online test with Loop11 to engage in remote user testing.
SilverStripe used Loop11 to produce hard data on usability to guide modifications to the website.
3 different tests were set up; one for each of their different target groups. The 3 user groups consisted of developers, front-end developer/designers and content editors/marketing people. The test was run for 2 weeks.
1,243 SilverStripers started the test and 23% completed the test.
Here are some of their observations:
The online content was hard to understand by some of the audience
There was too much information on the introduction and features pages; users thought it was too much information to read for a quick overview
There wasn’t a clear enough hierarchy between headings and body text on the features page
Unique user groups had different needs and understanding of information; labeling has different meanings for different demographics and can lead to unsatisfactory results
Users were sometimes unsure whether pages/content were applicable to them
The site’s navigation and labels were not very intuitive, confused users and did not accurately reflect content
The “Modules” section was confusing to navigate and did not promote better and more recent modules
Finding information about meeting others in the community was very difficult
Multiple sites in silverstripe.org confused users
Developers did not like the label “Help”; “Support” or “Documentation” were the expected labels
The visual design had not been updated for some time and was difficult to use
Some users mentioned it was time for a site redesign to better reflect the direction of the website
The layout and hierarchy of elements could be made easier through better font sizing and color
After the data was collected and multi-variant tests were conducted, overlaps and patterns were found and a new SilverStripe.org site structure was created to address the findings.
WANT TO CONDUCT EASY, AFFORDABLE AND EFFECTIVE USABILITY TESTING LIKE SILVERSTRIPE DID?
SilverStripe.org is just one success story. Loop11 has plenty of other successful case studies here. Loop11 can help you test and improve your website’s usability without the expensive costs of doing lab-based testing.
Loop11 has just had a major roll out of a new feature that you’re not going to want to miss. It’s a feature that you’ve been asking for for a long time – an easy integration with a panel company.
Loop11 now offers you a fast and easy integration with Cint – one of the world’s leading panel companies.
With this integration you’ll be able to recruit participants for your usability projects based on any of the following criteria:
- Country of origin
- Age range
- Education level
- Occupation status
- Marital status
- Household size
- Number of children
- Age of children
- Personal income
- Household income
- Company size
- Field of experience
- Professional position in company
- Vehicle ownership
- Smoking habits
- Mobile phone use
- …and more!
You can choose from 10 to 1,000 participants for your project, select the recruitment criteria you want, pay Cint quickly through our easy integration, and start getting responses within a few days.
Using the Cint Integration can get you easy and cost-effective access to over 10 million participants in over 40 countries. If you have a specific demographic that you’re looking for, and need to have a specific number of people take your user test, a panel can be helpful to streamline the process of getting participants.
One of the great benefits of using the Cint Integration within Loop11 is all of this is done through the Loop11 interface, and you no longer have to worry about setting up proper quotas and giving the correct link out to a panel company — we’ve taken care of all the hassle of using a panel company, for you.
And don’t forget that if accessibility is an important consideration for your website we recently integrated a separate panel into Loop11 that lets you recruit participants for online accessibility testing.
USING LOOP11 TO COMPARE THE USABILITY OF A LIVE WEBSITE VS. A WIREFRAME PROTOTYPE
CLIENT: TerpSys and the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)
The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) is a membership-based organization representing 1,400 independent schools and associations across the United States. Its website is a key means of communication and access for its members, so having a website that is easy to use is critical.
NAIS members weren’t able to find what they needed on the site. As a result, phone calls to customer support had increased.
NAIS engaged U.S.-based technology customer service company, TerpSys, to help resolve the issues with the website.
There was a perception that certain tasks were completely unworkable on the current NAIS site, but there were no statistics to support this.
TerpSys had already created wireframe prototypes based on a content re-structuring and Information Taxonomy project for NAIS to enable easy and accurate information access. However, before moving into costly website design and implementation, it needed to evaluate whether the new framework would sufficiently meet NAIS’ member needs.
TerpSys used Loop11 to generate hard data on usability that would form the basis of its site recommendations for the NAIS.
Loop11 was used to systematically test usability performance and collect data comparing the existing website with the wireframe prototypes of the newly designed Information Architecture. Loop11 enabled Terpsys to:
a) Establish a usability baseline.
b) Test a wireframe prototype of the new website.
c) Test a redacted version of the current live site.
d) Test both the wireframe prototype and the live site to compare “apples with apples”.
e) Evaluate the data.
The NAIS membership department generated a list of existing members, spread across their identified audience categories, who were willing to participate. Each participant was sent links to both projects.
90 NAIS members participated in the online testing, providing fast and instant statistics through Loop11’s ability to record if project tasks were completed successfully and the amount of time each task took.
1. Two separate projects were set up in Loop11 - one each for the prototype wireframes and the existing website. Each project featured 33 identical tasks and questions.
2. Key participant questions relating to the customer support feedback were identified, including:
- How would find information about NAIS membership?
- How would you find a job at an independent school?
3. Additional questions were asked to gauge the usability and website effectiveness including:
- How often do you visit the NAIS.org website?
- (After each task) How easy or difficult was it to find this information?
Once the tests were launched, Loop11 enabled TerpSys to track the task completion rates and observe the navigation path of participants. TerpSys was also able to instantly access the feedback provided by participants.
EXAMPLE DATA COLLECTED
1. Participant Task: “How would you find information about NAIS membership?”
Prototype wireframe: 85% task completion rate
Live website: 81% task completion rate
Analysis: Loop11 recorded an almost identical completion rate between sites, providing evidence that the task is being completed satisfactorily.
2. Participant Task: “Where can you find information on serving students with learning differences?”
Prototype wireframe: 65% task completion rate
Live website: 14% task completion rate
Analysis: In this case, Loop11 recorded the wireframes had a substantially higher task completion rate than the live website. Analysis also revealed (in blue) that there were fairly high task abandon rates on both designs, suggesting that the task wasn’t straightforward to complete in either design. As a result of this analysis, TerpSys was able to make recommendations for changes required.
Using the statistical data Loop11 generated based on the usability test, TerpSys was able to identify the direct leverage points on the website which would yield the most results. They were able to make confident, data-based recommendations to NAIS on where to focus their website development efforts to yield the most usable website possible for its members.
LOOKING TO DO SOME EFFECTIVE, EASY, AND AFFORDABLE USABILITY TESTING ON YOUR SITE?
NAIS is one of many Loop11 success stories. Loop11 can generate quantifiable results on your site without the cost and expense of lab-based testing sessions. Get started now – your first project is free.
Could your business be missing out on an estimated $1 trillion market?
$1 trillion – $200 billion alone in discretionary spending – that’s what Fortune Magazine estimates the community of disabled people represent, 55 million people in the U.S. and approximately 1 billion people worldwide. It is the largest minority group.
Many of these people use the web differently from the average user. Many use assistive technologies to navigate the web, and in order for a site to be accessible it must include the features these technologies rely on.
Could your website’s design be inadvertently excluding people with disabilities?
1. Make sure all images on your site have alt-text tags.
People using screen readers don’t see images, so make sure the the alt-text of each image is descriptive – particularly if the image itself contains text.
2. Make sure that each field on every forms on your site is properly labelled.
Without labels, forms will not be viewable on screen readers.
3. Make sure your site can be navigated using only a keyboard.
Not everyone uses a touchpad or mouse, so make sure there aren’t any features on your site which require them.
Accessibility testing with Loop11
The three checks above are a good place to start but really, there’s so much more to test to ensure your site is truly accessible. Each type of disability has its own technology access needs, and each assistive technology has its own requirements and limitations.
Through our partnership with Knowbility – a non-profit organization focused on increasing technology accessibility to the disabled community – Loop11 now offers an easy and affordable way to do comprehensive accessibility testing.
AccessWorks, an extensive database of web-users with disabilities created and managed by Knowbility, reflects a spectrum of visual impairments, hearing impairments, cognitive disabilities, and motor impairments. Loop11 customers can now tap into the AccessWorks database for all accessibility testing needs, saving time that would otherwise be spent on recruiting participants for face-to-face testing.
Testing for accessibility issues with Loop11 is simple. When a customer chooses to conduct accessibility testing, they will be prompted to select criteria from a custom panel. Knowbility then pulls participants from AccessWorks to form a group that fits these requirements. Through an email sent by Knowbility, these new participants will have instant access to a tailor-made web-based accessibility evaluation. Next, as participants begin test-taking, Loop11 customers can take advantage of quantitative feedback and real-time monitoring by checking out results instantly.
For a recent project, Knowbility crafted an extensive accessibility test using Loop11 and recruiting from the AccessWorks database. The recruited participants reflected two forms of visual impairment (low vision and legal blindness), a cognitive disability (traumatic brain injury) and motor disability (amputee).
They explored a university’s website through 19 tasks. Some used assistive technologies like screen readers, screen magnifiers, and adaptive technology for motor impairments.
The test unearthed a few barriers for mobility-impaired and visually-impaired users.
Results showed that the site could benefit from various improvements – some small, some great. The three main accessibility problems were encountered with keyboard use and screen readers.
Firstly, dropdown menus were inaccessible via keyboard use, which many visually and motor impaired participants use to navigate. Next, a problem with keyboard focus was discovered. Some interactive elements correctly lit up; others did not.
Also a lack of headings made for tedious, time-consuming navigation for those with screen readers. Instead of being able to skip through various sections of content, participants had no choice but to listen to entire pages of content in order to find what they needed.
Web accessibility: Worth looking into
The number of people living with disabilities is only going to grow. How accessible is your site to this market? Test and find out.
For more info on web accessibility, watch our recent webinar on accessibility and usability testing with our CEO Toby Biddle and Knowbility Executive Director Sharron Rush:
Coming to UX Australia 2012, in Brisbane next week? We’ll be there!
UX Australia is Australia’s premier user design conference, which we’re proud to co-sponsor.
It’s a 4-day user experience design conference, with inspiring and practical presentations, covering a range of topics about how to design great experiences for people. (It’s not too late to sign-up.)
Do come by our exhibition booth to say hi… and while you’re there, enter our raffle to win an iPad!
Toby Biddle and the Loop11 team
LeanUx Denver, coming up Sept 19-21 in Colorado, is a 3-day event focusing on Lean UX Methodologies, Data-Driven UX, and the tools that can help you achieve a quantifiably better user experience.
We’re delighted that we can offer Loop11 customers a 20% discount on registration – on top of the special Early Bird registration price that runs out on July 31st. (You’ll save over $100, not bad!). To get the discount just use the code ”Loop11Discount” when booking your ticket.
There’s a fantastic line-up of speakers – leaders in the field of User Experience and Measurement, including those leading the Lean UX field such as:
- Jeff Gothelf, one of the leading voices on the topic of Agile UX and Lean UX
- Gerry McGovern, widely regarded as the worldwide authority on increasing web satisfaction by managing customer tasks
- Hendrik Kleinsmiede, VP of Global Design at PayPal
- Bill Albert, Director of the Design and Usability Center at Bentley University
There will also be workshops covering areas from the basics of LeanUx to Multivariate Testing.
You’ll get comprehensive insight on Lean UX, including how to implement a Lean UX program, which software to use, how to recruit users, what metrics to use and how to interpret the data.
It all takes place Sept 19-21, 2012 at the Hyatt Regency Convention Center in Denver, Colorado.
This will be an action-packed, value-laden event. Denver is beautiful. Come join us.
Book your ticket using the discount code ”Loop11Discount” and get your 20% off. Register before July 31st and you’ll get both the special Early Bird price and the 20% discount for Loop11 customers.
My mother-in-law, visiting us for a few weeks, almost burned down the house the other day.
It’s not what it sounds like – she’s very nice and we get along great. The problem is our stove. Its sleek, minimalistic design makes it too easy to turn on the wrong burner without realizing it. In other words, it lacks effective affordances.
“Affordance” is an industrial design term for a visual clue about how something works. The purpose of an affordance is to convey to the user exactly what they need to know in order to use the product correctly.
Affordances are embedded into so many everyday products that we hardly notice them.
Affordances can be used to make websites more usable too. Let’s take a look at some examples of three common forms of affordances: color, words, and arrows.
The shower dial in the image above uses the universal colors for cold and hot – blue and red – to indicate which direction the dial should be turned for cold and hot water.
In a different way, the website of Ritual Roasters uses the contrast of the bright red to highlight the Shop link and direct the user where to go.
Arrows are even more explicit. They basically say, “Follow me here”. The arrow on marieforleo.com directs your eyes to exactly where she wants you to go: her newsletter sign-up.
Have you noticed that every airplane belt buckle is etched with the word “Lift” on one side? We all know how to open a buckle (I think), but I suppose in the case of a plane emergency every second you don’t spend fumbling counts.
The website of the social media tool Wildfire uses a word affordance too – but with a twist. It has a cool six-pointed shape, each point of which is clickable. Notice the “Hover” label with the arrow pointing towards it?
Here’s what’s interesting: the “Hover” affordance is temporary. It’s displayed only when the page is first loaded, and after a few seconds it disappears. You’re given just enough time to grasp how the six-pointed thingy works before the training wheels come off and you’re left simply with their cool design.
iwillteachyoutoberich.com uses all three forms of affordances. There’s an arrow, labelled “Looking for my blog?”, pointing towards the blog link, and the “Free Download button” is unmissable in bright yellow:
Has usability testing shown that your users are taking too long to find an important feature on your site? Consider adding a more explicit affordance to point them in the right direction.
Last week we hosted a joint webinar, Wireframing + Usability Testing = A Headstart on Development, with our friends at Balsamiq, CEO Peldi Guilizzoni and Head of User Experience Mike Angeles. Balsamiq is a rapid wireframing software provider with more than 80,000 customers.
Watch the recording of the 30 minute webinar, as we talk about the benefits of wireframing and usability testing and demo how they can be used to reduce development time and cost:
We’re thrilled to announce another new feature for Loop11 – Heat maps.
The heat map reports provide you with a user-friendly graphical representation of where your participants click on your website. The report will let you see task by task everywhere your visitors click anywhere on the page, whether it’s links, images, text or dead space.
The benefits of using heat maps are numerous. The data gathered can offer proof as to where visitors do and do not click, provide useful information when designing and redesigning landing pages, help determine optimal advertisement placement, minimize shopping cart abandonment, maximize conversions of online forms and predict how visitors will use your site in the future.
The heat map reports can be located through your Clickstream Analysis by clicking any of the links circled below.
Oh…and one other important thing…we have been collecting heat map data since April 1 (no joke!). So anyone who launched a project from April 1 onwards will have heat map data in their account.
Happy heat mapping!