I was reading Users Decide First; Move Second
“In our studies, we observed that once users realized there was more information available to them, they stopped and re-evaluated the screen. Users seemed disoriented by this disruption in activity and they lost confidence that they were clicking in the right places. The users now questioned a choice that seemed to be a good one earlier.
Some dropdown and fly out implementations required our users to use awkward movements to make simple choices. For example, on a recent version of the Verizon site, the user was looking to find out more about the Verizon Foundation. ”
This is 100% true in my experience– I’ve seen this in enough tests. In fact, often people are so ready to click they click on the header, and then notice the flyout and have to hit back to see what they missed. What UIE doesn’t cover is the ergonomic problems with these GUI objects. Test after test I’ve seen people slip. They slip on long drop downs, they slip on flyouts, and they misclick or their mouse slips off the menu and the whole dang thing folds up under them before they can click. Slipage is common and annoying. And slippage causes resentment toward the site that chose the GUI object and a desire to not use it again. For a news site like MSNBC that wants peopel to come to read it every day, that would be a very bad thing.
from the rough draft of the book:
Principle three: Ergonomic design
When designing in digital spaces, there is an often forgotten fact–humans beings have bodies, and these bodies vary widely. In the real word it’s easier to remember– Herman Miller went to the bank when he tripped over this fact and designed a chair that could be adjusted endlessly: the Aeron.
But tall and short doesn’t mean much on the web– heck, on the web no one knows you are a dog. On the web the body parts engaged are hands, eyes, and ears.
When designing for hands, consider things like scrolling distances and frequency and shortcuts for people with RSI. When Razorfish Germany redesigned the Audi site, they did extensive testing of navigation on the right hand side of the screen with potential website visitors. This was a bit of an innovation: almost all websites have gone to navigation on the top and/or left hand side of the screen. They discovered that not only did the users not mind the change, but it provided easier access to the scrollbar for faster navigation, and made it easier to concentrate on the content.
When designing for eyes, consider blindness, color blindness, and near/far sightedness. When designing for ears, remember not only deafness, but also people who may be listening public spaces. Who hasn’t been in a quiet office when suddenly loud midi music floods the room from a nearby cubicle?
The body, and the world the body inhabits, matters even in the digital realm.