Random thoughts on web usability and the w3c a view from a practioner s perspective
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Random Thoughts on Web Usability and the W3C: A View from a Practioner’s Perspective. W3C/NIST Workshop on Web Usability November 4, 2002. Thomas S. Tullis, Ph.D. Senior Vice President, Human Interface Design Fidelity Investments [email protected] Outline.

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Random thoughts on web usability and the w3c a view from a practioner s perspective

Random Thoughts on Web Usability and the W3C:A View from a Practioner’s Perspective

W3C/NIST Workshop on Web Usability

November 4, 2002

Thomas S. Tullis, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President,

Human Interface Design

Fidelity Investments

[email protected]


Outline
Outline

  • Very quick background on Fidelity and our web usability work.

  • Overview of four areas I think a W3C Usability Working Group could play a significant role:

    • Usability of the W3C site itself

    • Usability of the W3C guidelines documents

    • Possible Usability Guideline document

    • Helping set a Practical Usability Research Agenda


Fidelity investments
Fidelity Investments

  • The largest mutual fund company in the U.S. and one of the world’s largest providers of financial services. Managed assets of $732.4 billion.

  • Fidelity offers investment management, retirement planning, brokerage, human resources and benefits outsourcing services to 18 million individuals and institutions.

  • Some stats as of September 2002:

    • 4.572 million online accounts

    • $266 billion assets held in online accounts

    • 70,955 online trades (buy or sell) daily, on the average


Fidelity on the web

For most individual investors

For retirement plan investors

For investment advisors and their clients

Fidelity on the Web

  • Some of our web sites and applications:

Active Trader ProSM

And hundreds of internal apps and web sites


Usability at fidelity
Usability at Fidelity

  • Fidelity’s senior management recognized the importance of usability over 9 years ago and funded the creation of:

    • The Human Interface Design (HID) department

      • A part of the Fidelity Center for Applied Technology.

    • Fidelity’s Usability Lab

      • Now in its third incarnation

      • In downtown Boston

      • Includes two permanent Labs and one portable



Our web usability testing
Our Web Usability Testing

  • Conducted over 150 usability tests of Web sites or applications in the past 3 years.

  • Typical usability test:

    • About 6-8 representative users are brought in to the Lab, individually.

    • They perform a set of realistic tasks using the site.

    • We monitor where they get confused, make mistakes, etc, as well as task time and success.


Usability of the w3c site
Usability of the W3C Site

  • Maybe it’s just me, but whenever I go to the W3C site, I have a very hard time finding what I’m looking for.

    • Even when I know it’s there!

    • What about people who aren’t sure if something is there?

    • Try doing a search on “usability” on the W3C site!


Usability of the w3c site1
Usability of the W3C Site

  • Possible actions that a W3C Usability Working Group could facilitate:

    • Do some user analyses– What are people who come to the W3C site looking for?

    • Has a serious information architecture study been done for the site?

      • Conduct a card-sorting study

    • Do some usability testing– Perhaps start with some baseline testing.

    • Study Search logs to see what people are looking for.

      • And “hand-tune” search results to make the pages most appropriate for a search come to the top.


Usability of the w3c documents
Usability of the W3C Documents

  • The first screen-full when you see a document:

Is this the most important information, from the user’s perspective?


Usability of the w3c documents1
Usability of the W3C Documents

  • Most of the W3C documents themselves follow a relatively standard format.

    • Has anyone ever done any user testing to verify if it’s a good format/approach?

    • Need standard techniques for presentation/navigation (e.g., TOC, glossary, related documents, etc).

    • It’s relatively easy to generate nicely formatted PDFs from HTML; what if users want that?

      • There’s probably a reason that people like the Nielsen Norman Group sell PDFs of their reports rather than providing HTML versions.


A usability guidelines document
A Usability Guidelines Document?

  • There are quite a few Web usability guidelines, style guides, etc, out there already, e.g.:

    • NCI’s Research-based Guidelines

    • IBM’s Ease of Use Guidelines

    • Yale’s Web Style Guide

    • And the various books

  • What could the W3C add in this arena?

    • A voice of authority and reason

    • Capitalize on the NCI effort

      • Empirically-based, not just someone’s opinion

    • Tie-in with HTML implementation issues

    • Information on how to measure Web usability?


Web usability research agenda
Web Usability Research Agenda

  • The W3C could be a driving force behind developing a practical Web usability research agenda.

  • There are huge numbers of Web usability issues that we just don’t know the answers to today, e.g.:

    • Are frames evil or not? In what cases?

    • What approaches to navigation work best in what situations?

    • And a host of others


Web usability research agenda1
Web Usability Research Agenda

  • An example of some great practical Web usability research:

    • Wichita State’s Software Usability Research Lab

  • And some industry groups (like mine) are doing practical Web usability research.

  • But we need more.

  • Perhaps a research agenda would help encourage others.

    • Maybe include pointers to ongoing research in various areas?



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