Designing for Content-Rich Sites

Time: Monday, March 7 from 9:00am - 5:00pm
Coffee and registration starts at 8:30am.

Location: Gleacher Center, Room 206
(Gleacher is cross the street from the Sheraton Chicago at 450 North Cityfront Plaza Drive)

Course Description:
Research has shown us how some sites, no matter what users are looking for, make it easy to always find the relevant information. Other sites, no matter how hard the users try, are too difficult and frustrating. In this workshop, Jared Spool will share the secret of designing sites rich in content, such that users are delighted and ready to return time after time.

You'll learn how the content on your site emits "scent" and how to ensure users catch hold of it as they maneuver through your site's pages. At the end of this workshop, you'll know exactly what you need to do to greatly enhance the usability of your content-rich site.

Session 1: Why Good Content Must Suck: Designing for the Scent of Information

If you have thousands of pages of really cool stuff on your site, how do users find what they are looking for? Turns out that the content itself has to pull the user to it. The stronger the pull, the more likely the user will find it.

In this presentation, Jared discusses how to organize your site to pull users to the right place. He'll talk about User Interface Engineering's recent research on how people find information on large web sites. Jared shows you plenty of examples of sites that work well and those that don't.

He'll discuss how the quality of links affects whether users click on them; how longer pages actually help users get where they are going faster; the 3 types of graphics: navigation, content, and decorative and the importance of each; how users follow a scent and four ways your design could be blocking their smell.

Session 2: The Scent of a Web Page: Five Types of Navigation Pages

You work hard providing top-notch content on your site. Will your users find it? If they don't find it, all that effort is for nothing. What can you do to guarantee that users find the content they've come looking for? You’ll come away with the most up-to-the-minute research on how users actually navigate sites.

As users traverse through a web site, they encounter different types of pages, each with unique functions. The designers of the best sites understand the special functions of each type of page on a web site, and design the pages individually based on their specific purpose.

Our research has uncovered three ways to predict when users will fail finding the content they desire. We’ll show you what these three predictors are and how to counter the effects in your design.

We will share the secrets behind successful designs including Lands' End, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, CNN, and the BBC. You’ll learn why trigger words are critical to users successfully finding their content, why the best sites prevent users from using Search, how exposing a site's hierarchy can increase the success of the user, how designing longer pages helps users find what they seek, and how to best use lateral links and breadcrumbs.

Session 3: Galleries: The Hardest Working Pages on Your Site

A detailed look at your site's most critical page: the gallery. Galleries are the most used navigational element on any web site and many sites have hundreds of them. And yet, they are often the most difficult pages to design well.

Acting as the crossroads for your users path to their desired content, a solid gallery page tells the user what they'll find and, just as importantly, tells them which paths will take them away from their goal. Ensuring these landmarks do their job is probably the hardest part of designing a successful website.

In this presentation, Jared will share some of UIE’s most important research about gallery page design. You’ll learn the role galleries play in helping users make confident choices, the key elements that search result pages borrow from the average gallery (and what makes them different), and strategies for ordering links for easy findability. (Hint: Alphabetical order isn’t one of them!) Jared will show you some of the latest design thinking from Netflix, Best Buy, Toyota, SonyEricsson, and Citibank, to name a few.

Session 4: Search, Scent, and the Happiness of Pursuit

Nobody wakes up in the morning with a smile on their face, thinking "Oh Boy! Today I'm going to search a huge web site!" Instead, they arrive at your web site with the simple goal to find something on your site that's important to them. If they find it, whether they search or not, they'll be happy. When they don't, frustration follows.

Teams often turn to a sophisticated built-in Search capability to help their users find what they seek. However, our research has shown that technological magic isn't going to make the users successful. Instead, it's a simple understanding of what the users are seeking and how they look at it.

In this presentation, Jared will share some of Search's best-kept secrets. You'll see how to form a search implementation strategy around your customer's mission (and why that's the fastest way to success), a hidden resource on your server that shows you exactly how to make search more effective, why focusing on "searchers" is a design strategy that gets teams into trouble, and how to put together your own Search benchmark test that will give you regular feedback on how well you're doing.

Maximum attendees: 
User Interface Engineering

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