Sunday, May 18, 2008

Psychology Behind Usability

The application of psychology principles to usability ...

"Eye-Tracking
Eye tracking is the process of measuring either the point of gaze (”where we are looking”) or the motion of an eye relative to the head. eye tracking monitor records every eye movement and highlights the most active areas on the site visually. Eye-tracking studies can help to estimate how comfortable web users are with the web-site they’re browsing through and how quickly they can understand the structure and system behind it. You can find some interesting usability findings from recent eye-tracking study.

Fold
The fold is defined as the lowest point where a web-site is no longer visible on the screen. The position of the fold is, of course, defined by the screen resolution of your visitor. The region above the fold (also called screenful) describes the region of a page that is visible without scrolling. Since the fold is seen directly without scrolling, it is often considered as the area which guarantees the highest possible ad click rates and revenues. However, Fold area isn’t that important.

Foveal viewport (Foveal area)
The fovea, a part of human’s eye, is responsible for sharp central vision, which is necessary in humans for reading, watching television or movies, driving, and any activity where visual detail is of primary importance. Foveal area is a small wide space area where your eyes are aimed at and it is the only area where you can perceive the maximum level of detail. Foveal area is a tight area of about two degrees of visual field or two thumbnails held in front of your eyes. This is the place where you’d like to deliver the most important messages of your visitors.

Foveal viewport is important, because outside of this wide screen area how your visitors see your web-pages change dramatically. Inside this area is the only part of your vision with the maximal resolution - only here no eye scanning is necessary.

Gloss
Gloss is an automated action that provides hints and summary information on where the link refers to and where it will take the user once it’s clicked. Hints can be provided via title-attribute of links. From the usability point of view users want to have the full control over everything what is happening on a web-site; clear and precise explanations of internal and outgoing links, supported by sound anchor text, can improve the usability of a web-site.

Graceful Degradation (Fault-tolerance)
Graceful Degradation is the property of a web-site to present its content and its basic features even if some of its components (partly or at all) can’t be displayed or used. In practice it means that web-sites display their content in every possible “fault” scenario and can be used in every configuration (browser, plug-ins, connection, OS etc.) the visitor might have. “Power-users” are still offered a full, enhanced version of the page. For instance, it’s typical to offer alternatives for Multimedia-content (for instance image) to ensure that the content can be perceived if images can’t be displayed.

Granularity
Granularity is the degree to which a large, usually complex data set or information has been broken down into smaller units.

Hotspot
Hotspots are clickable site areas which change their form or/and outer appearance once they are clicked. This is typical for :focus-effects when a link or any other site element is clicked."    (Continued via Web 3.0)    [Usability Resources]

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