[Myth] Accessible sites are ugly

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Myth #6: Accessible sites are ugly

Accessibility on the web means making your content available to users with different skills and devices. A key requirement of web accessibility is to separate content (HTML) from visual appearance (CSS) in order to allow those preferring – or requiring – to use their own specific style sheet to access the content.

Since the visual appearance of a site is defined by style sheets, accessibility in itself should not have any impact on visual design. Continue reading

[Myth] All pages should be accessible in 3 clicks

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Myth #2: All pages should be accessible in 3 clicks

Usability tests have long challenged the so called three-click rule. Contrary to popular belief, people don’t leave your site if they’re unable to find the desired information in 3 clicks. In fact, the number of necessary clicks affects neither user satisfaction, nor success rate. That’s right; fewer clicks don’t make users happier and aren’t necessarily perceived as faster.

What really counts here is ease of navigation, the constant scent of information along the user’s path. If you don’t make the user think about the clicks, they won’t mind having a few extra clicks.

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[Myth] More choices and features result in higher satisfaction

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Myth #12: More choices and features result in higher satisfaction

Having choices is considered a good thing. We are used to choices and we value dearly if we can be in control.

However, the more choices a website or web application offers, the harder it is to understand the interface. Studies show that having too many options often leads to decision paralysis and frustration. As a general rule, people only value an abundance of features before they actually start using the given product. After they have started using it, the simpler solution wins with higher satisfaction. Continue reading

[Myth] Users make optimal choices

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Myth #15: Users make optimal choices

In an ideal world, users would scan through your entire page to find the very piece of information they’re looking for, but research shows this is not the case. Usability tests prove that people tend to choose the first somewhat reasonable choice that catches their eyes.

That is, once they come across a link whose label refers even a little to what they’ve come for, they’ll click it. This is due to their experience that guessing wrong and hitting the back button is still more efficient than reading a whole page to find an exact match.

This behaviour, known as satisficing, is a well-known decision-making strategy in psychology. Continue reading

[Myth] Choices should always be limited to 7+/-2

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Myth #23: Choices should always be limited to 7+/-2

Limiting the number of menu tabs or the number of items in a dropdown list to the George Miller’s magic number 7 is a false constraint. Miller’s original theory argues that people can keep no more than 7 (plus or minus 2) items in their short-term memory. On a webpage, however, the information is visually present, people don’t have to memorize anything and therefore can easily manage broader choices.

For example, research shows that broad and shallow menu structures may even work better than deeper menus. Also, link-rich e-commerce homepages, like that of Amazon with 90+ product category links, are found to be more usable than homepages with only a few links.

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