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I know I typically share user experiences that I feel are lacking in the whole ‘understanding your users’ department, but today I actually have an interaction that I think goes above and beyond from the UX perspective. A collective round of applause please!

I was checking out a site that offers wire framing and prototyping products:

Site with a Feedback Link

This is a nice intuitive, streamlined UI. But the thing that really caught my eye was the little ‘Give Feedback’ image in the upper right hand column.

Feedback widget

Curiosity killed that cat, so I had to click on it, and I was presented with one of the most well designed Contact forms I have ever encountered:
Feedback form with category selection

What makes this so special you say? Well the first thing I noticed is that they seem genuinely interested in my feedback as opposed to who I am and what my contact information is. Instead of immediately asking me for that type of information, their first question is ‘what kind of feedback might that be’ – and rather than presenting it via a sterile dropdown as so often is the case, they instead make it a little more fun by putting the most common types of feedback right out in the open as buttons where I can simply click the one I want. None of the specific categories match? That’s okay too; there is an Other Feedback option. I also want to point out that the entire interaction is keyboard accessible.

I pick the type of feedback I’d like to give and:
Feedback form text entry

A text box appears, highlighted and focus is already in the text box for me. All I need to do is to start typing my comments. And all of the other feedback categories are still front and center in case I decide that a different subject would be more appropriate. I type in my comments and hit Send…
Feedback form with contact info optional

The only piece of personal information being asked for from me is my email address, and I only need to give it if I want to ensure someone follows up with me. How awesome is that?!

It’s funny, but when I blog about my negative user experiences I feel it necessary to protect the offenders and blur out identifying information. But when I encounter an experience as positive as this, I want to yell the site/company names from the mountaintop! This interaction shows that Kampyle has made good use of their time and energy to ensure that the product they were creating was going to meet the needs of both the sites that purchase it and the users who would actually be sending the feedback. Kudos to Kampyle!

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I was reading an article about ways to increase traffic to your blog, because who doesn’t want more folks coming their site and realizing the wisdom in their words. 🙂

Anyway, the article mentioned submitting your site to a multitude of free blog directories, so I figured I’d give it try. Site after site asked for the same basic information. Here I am on about the fourth site:
Blank Registration Form

Piece of cake, I’d already filled out this same basic stuff 3 times before. The one thing I didn’t want to do was put reciprocal links on my blog, which according to the terms was fine, so I just left that field blank each time. I finished filling out this form, hit submit, and got this:
Registration Form with unseen error

Hmmmm….did it submit? My guess is no…but if not why didn’t it? I start inspecting the screen, field by field, until notice this:
Unobvious Error Message

Suddenly the reciprocal link field has become required (yes, scroll up to the first screenshot if you don’t believe me!) – or maybe they are using the exact same image for their error notation?! I have no clue. And even more interesting the error message (in the exact same font color and size as everything else on the screen) states that I entered an Invalid URL – can the lack of a URL actually make it invalid?

I was basically stuck at this point, I wasn’t going to go down the whole reciprocal link path, so I abandoned the task. I guess this is one blog directory you won’t find LiveUX in…

My Recommendation:

If a user makes an error in a workflow you want to direct them right to the source of the error so they can fix it quickly and easily.

  • The error message itself can appear either at the top of screen (indicating the specific field that is in error) or placing it in close proximity to the field itself (usually to the right or below the field).
  • Use an indicator to highlight the invalid field (for example a red X to the right of the field). Do not use an image that has more than one meaning.
  • The error message should by styled to stand out from the rest of the text on the screen. The norm is to use red text.
  • The error message should accurately describe the error that was made. It is also best to include the step(s) a user can take to correct it.

Okay, that’s about it for me today…I’m going to register LiveUX with a few more directories…wish me luck!

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I love perusing decorating sites. It’s always fun to collect inspiration photos to add to my collection. So off to a well known decorating site I go. Today I was looking for ideas for a kid’s room, preferably something nautical. I typed my search criteria (Nautical Bedroom) into their handy Search field:

Search input field

And here are my results:
No Search Results found

Huh? I’m on a decorating site! Why did I just get a ‘No recipes found’ message?! Once I look back at my original search I realized that the default search option is for the Recipe section only. This seems so odd to me on a decorating site.

My recommendation:
Make sure your default settings match what your user would expect them to be. I am hard pressed to believe that the vast majority of searches on this site are for recipes as opposed to decorating or some other topic. Or, for a site like this that has many topics, search the whole site, then allow the user to filter based on the topics that might be of interest to them.

Funny thing…As I was preparing this post I went back to the site to check something out and lo and behold, they have updated their Search. The whole Recipes/Site paradigm is gone and the default is now to search the entire site. Maybe they got an advanced copy of my post! 🙂

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I don’t even know what to say about this site…

Site with too many UI issues to list

I try to protect the not so innocent in my posts by blurring out identifying information in my screen shots, but I am so tempted to give the address of this site just so you can experience all the flashing/rotating/mayhem going on!

I can only shake my head and wonder what goes through some people’s minds…

My Recommendation:
Put this site out of its misery…please.

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Sorry for the complete lack of posts lately…

Just as I got on a roll, things beyond my control got in the way. But never fear, I have been surfing when I have the time and I have been collecting lots of things to share!

I hope to be back to posting regularly after some well deserved rest and relaxation over the the long Memorial Day weekend. Here’s hoping you get some of the same!

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Someone mentioned modular homes to me the other day, and the time and money savings that can be associated with going this route. I decided to check them out and found this site…
web page with hand cursor to represent links

Notice how the page nicely tells me that I can ‘Click on the pictures to see a slide show of the homes’? Okay, maybe you see ‘lick’ instead of ‘click’ like me?! Obviously there are other issues on this site as well, but I’m trying to stay focused here!)

Following the site’s instructions, I move my cursor around the page, and whenever I hover over any of the pictures, my cursor changes to a hand icon, letting me know these are links I can click on to see the slide shows. Nice.

I, however, decide to go right to the Designs and Floor Plans so I can pick out a specific house I’d like to see more of. I click the menu item on the left and I am brought to a new page:
web page with hand icon on hover

Same paradigm on this page. Whenever I move my cursor over one of the pictures, it turns to a hand. Cool beans…I simply pick the one I want to see the floor plans for and click. And what do I see?

web page with hand icon on hover

The same page I was just on…Maybe I didn’t do something right, let’s try this again. Hover over the picture, hand cursor, and click! Absolutely nothing…

I was led to believe that each of the pictures was a link, when in fact they are not.

Solution:
Use browser cursors appropriately. The hand cursor should be used when a user moves the pointer over a legitimate link. Do not waste people’s time leading them to think otherwise.

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Wow – I know I’m getting older, but please tell me I’m not the only one who has a hard time reading this:

I singled out this screen to pick on the contrast of Submit button, but once I had the screenshot in Photoshop for editing and zoomed in, I suddenly realized that there was more in the top left corner! I never would have noticed that when simply scanning the web page.

Solution:
Make sure you’re using appropriate color contrasts. This is important accessibility consideration all designers should pay attention to. According to the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, “When foreground and background colors are too close to the same hue, they may not provide sufficient contrast when viewed using monochrome displays or by people with different types of color deficits.” There are a number of resources on the web that can be used to assess color contrast. One example can be found at Colors on the Web.

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