All posts tagged ‘usability’

File Under: Uncategorized

OpenID Advocate Identifies Four Areas to Focus

OpenID UX SummitLast week over 40 open thinkers met at Yahoo for the OpenID/OAuth User Experience Summit. Representatives from major web companies and innovative players spent a day discussing how to improve what they all hope will be a single sign-on owned by everybody.

Chris Messina, an OpenID advocate, attended the summit and came away with four areas he thinks OpenID needs to focus:

  • “Make it easier!”
  • Branding and marketing, so OpenID is recognized
  • Consistency of user experience
  • Leadership from OpenID Foundation

The over-arching goal, it seems, is to get OpenID ready for the masses. We’ve seen positive signs from the Yahoo usability study, but also learned that there’s a lot of user education needed to make it fit their mental model. Messina’s checklist is a good place to start.

[Photo by Chris Messina]

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File Under: Web Basics

Yahoo Users Befuddled by OpenID

Yahoo OpenID FAILYahoo just released results of an OpenID usability study. Though there’s a silver lining, the news is mostly not good. Although we’re big fans of OpenID, it’s definitely not yet ready for mainstream adoption.

The study observed nine female Yahoo users in their thirties who considered themselves of medium-to-high internet savvy. The participants were told they could log in with their Yahoo ID at a third-party site. In many cases, the users tried to log in using the site’s main login, rather than the OpenID login. Users don’t understand multiple ways to log in, at least not without some education.

Unfortunately, the problems continue even when the user knows about OpenID. The module which lists popular providers, including Yahoo, confused users. There is no spot for a password, which seems strange to even advanced users (though this is becoming more popular with financial sites for security). Then comes Yahoo’s OpenID process, which is confusing for users that haven’t already added OpenID to their Yahoo account.

They’re pretty sobering results. The Developer Network also summarized the study and offers suggestions to third-party sites.

So, where’s that silver lining? The users saw the utility of OpenID:

  • “It’s convenient. You don’t have to give your whole life history to a site.”
  • “It’s easier because you don’t have to create a new ID and password.”
  • It eliminates the need for e-mail verification.

Even better, the study’s very existence shows that Yahoo is thinking about it. For OpenID to succeed on a grand scale, it’s going to take big players on the web making it understandable to the masses.

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File Under: Visual Design, Web Basics

How to Design Form Labels

Sometimes it feels like the whole web is made of forms. Other than simple links, forms are the most common way to get information from the user. One of the recurring issues I have is deciding what to do with the form labels. That’s the phrase that tells users what you expect to go into an input field.

How do you align your labels?

Left, Right, and Top Aligned Form Labels

Yahoo’s Luke Wroblewski (you can call him LukeW) is the preeminent form expert. He has performed usability studies and come up with some good information about form label alignment.

Sadly, Luke won’t tell us which is best, because it depends on the situation. Here’s a summary of the pros and cons.

Alignment Pro Con
Top Users fill out form fast
Label close to the field
Takes up a lot of vertical space
Left Easy to scan the labels
More vertical space
Labels sometimes far from fields
Takes users a long time to fill out
Right Label close to the field
More vertical space
Hard to scan labels

Once you decide which to use, Sitepoint has a nice tutorial.

What comes after your label?

A colon after a label is fairly common (though strangely absent from LukeW’s examples above). This may be a remnant of command line days. Though common, many are adamantly against the practice.

Christian Watson read up on the studies and reports that it doesn’t matter. So stop bickering, and just do what feels right, brother.

What else about labels?

There’s probably so much more we could talk about labels. Like how you should be using the for attribute, for example. What other issues do you run into when you label your forms?

[Label mockup courtesy of Luke Wroblewski]

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