You can bet that at this year's Usability Week Conference, Jakob Nielsen and his Nielsen Group members will be discussing the results of his latest web habits report. The annual report, which summarizes the current state of using the Internet, indicated that users demand so much from the Web that they have grown impatient, ruthless and selfish. Users no longer take time viewing a single site. Instead, getting to desired information as quickly as possible takes precedence. Nielsen says users now have a 75% success rate doing what they want to do online compared to just 60% in 1999.
Users are indeed more web savvy than they once were and know how to navigate the web environment effectively. Of course web site design has vastly improved in nine years and because of its increased usability, users inevitably demand more from it. Users Rely on Search Successful web sites are now determined by how quickly users find what they are searching for. While usability experts and designers have lived by the "three clicks" rule for sometime -- if a user can't find what they are looking for in three clicks, they will leave the site altogether -- there is additional pressure to get information to the user should they lose focus or become surly, even ruthless, in Nielsen's opinion.
Nielsen's report also highlighted user's frustration with widgets and customizable applications, which often take time to load or download. Users won't wait. They also won't take the time to peruse sites like they were wont to do back in 2004. Instead they choose to search via Google or Yahoo to go directly to the page where their information lives. What can we learn from this? Rather than rolling our eyes at users for demanding us to step up our game, let's acknowledge that not everyone cares to notice the importance of style guidelines and our flash flashiness. Take it from Gerry McGovern, who recently lectured us that it's not the interactivity that users want from our web sites, but their usefulness. As McGovern concisely summarizes, "They want to do what they came to do as quickly as possible".
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