Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Does Usability Actually Sell Anything?

Using usability selling products ...

"Recently my ClickZ colleague Sean Carton asked, “Are Usability Experts Any Use?” I’ve written before about the need to go beyond usability and focus on persuasive architecture. Nevertheless, Sean’s column struck a very public nerve. In recent threads on the I-Sales and I-Design lists, Jared Spool of User Interface Engineering (UIE) posted that he felt several people somewhat misrepresented his position about the value of design and usability:

I think I’ve been misunderstood…..

I did say that fonts were unimportant. But design is so much more than choosing fonts, especially on the Web….

How are the pages laid out? What information attracts the eyes? How is the site’s important content displayed in the hierarchy? Does the page design force users to go to search? (Search is bad — users only go to search when the design of the page has failed them.)

Jared compares Gap.com with Newport-News.com. In usability tests, he says, “Gap’s site outperformed Newport News by a factor of 10!” The fonts used on both sites are similar, but the overall design is credited for Gap’s success.

Let me point to some numbers as well. I don’t have access to the exact traffic or revenue numbers, but let’s see what we can infer about each of the following Web sites’ results. According to Alexa, Gap.com (#739) appears to have significantly more traffic and reach than Newport-News.com (#2,702). In 2002, The New York Times published a comScore chart of the top 25 online retailers, ranked by revenue. Newport-News came in at number 16; Gap.com is nowhere to be seen."    (Continued via Beneath the Cover)    [Usability Resources]

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