Nielsen: Web UX 2016 vs 2004

Jakob Nielsen had a keynote at the UX Conference on Web UX 2016 vs 2004. They made a study on web UX in 2016 and reflected that to the results from a similar study in 2004. The video is only 20 minutes and worth watching. Below you can find a summary.

Link to YouTube or to their Nielsen Norman Group website.

Abbreviated to one paragraph

Most of the problems are in findability and search, so information architecture is a crucial thing and worth attending to. Usability has improved from 2004 and the success rate of user tasks has gone up to 82% from 66%. However, only 30% of the tasks succeeded completely smoothly and easily. Also, annoyance is twice as common (30%) feeling as pleasure (16%).

Notes on Web UX 2016 vs 2004

  • There has been a loss of information density. We don’t miss the complexity, but we have much larger screens with a lot less content.
  • Some designers still use overlays/splash screens (we should get rid of it).
  • The success rate on user tasks is up from 66% in 2004 to 82% in 2016.

This is good, but it’s not just about whether people are going to succeed on your site, it is much more. Only 30% of the success was smooth and easy. 23% succeeded with minimal difficulty, 13% succeeded with some difficulty, 4% succeeded with major difficulty and 15% succeeded partially. 15% failed. In 16% of cases, there was some amount of enjoyment and in 30% of cases, there was some annoyance. Annoyance is twice as common as pleasure. 54% had no emotion.

  • Small pleasure is desirable.

There are sites with minimal content that have designed to look good and there are sites that have way too much content visible. Confusing views with too much content cause negative emotions.

Causes of User Failure

  • Findability was the biggest cause of failure with a 60% share and search the second biggest with 12%. Getting where you need to be on the website is the biggest problem.
  • Alphabetical listings are not good.
  • Information design is vital.
  • Banner blindness, people don’t see buttons or links that look like advertising banners.
  • Misuse of common components (like checkboxes, that work like radio buttons or selection).
  • In 2004 findability had a portion of 27% and search 15% and information 19%. Findability and search have always been big, but nowadays people are more pleased with the information they finally find.
  • The success rate is much higher now and people have fewer problems, and those problems are mainly with findability. Search is still not perfect but much better than in 2004.
  • Information architecture is a crucial thing and worth attending to.

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