Usability of Websites for Teenagers from Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox

Update: here’s an article from CNN about the new study…

This is a must read: Usability of Websites for Teenagers (Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox).

From the article: “Many people think teens are technowizards who surf the Web with abandon. It’s also commonly assumed that the best way to appeal to teens is to load up on heavy, glitzy, blinking graphics. Our study refuted these stereotypes.

Teens succeeded in the usability tests only 55% of the time, which in usability is BAD. The study showed that teens’ poor performance centered around three things: “insufficient reading skills, less sophisticated research strategies, and a dramatically lower patience level.” – in other words, they’re… well… teens.

Teens DO like cool-looking websites, and pay more attention to graphics… but found modest clean web design to be more usable.

Here’s another good quote from the article: “Teenagers like to do stuff on the Web, and dislike sites that are slow or that look fancy but behave clumsily.” – think about that one – can teens DO stuff on your library’s website? Or is your teen’s site made up primarily of lists of links and books?

Here are some suggestions from the article about interactive stuff to include on a teen’s website:

online quizzes: How about a Harry Potter quiz, with a drawing for free movie passes for the winners?

feedback/comment/question forms For starters, you could ask teens what they want the website to do (of course, then you just might have to DO what they asked for).

online voting: Have them vote on local issues, surround the voting page with explanations of the issues, and see what happens – could be fun.

games: Gaming is HUGE right now for teens. Buy books on gaming, point to gaming websites, or even go one further and set up gaming days at the library.

sharing pictures or stories: Hold a photography contest, and put the winner’s pictures online.

message boards: teen book/music/dvd clubs, local and world issues, etc – just a place for teens to connect with each other to get and share information.

offering and receiving advice: This can be where you use that virtual reference service to connect with teens.

a way to add their own content: We’ve thought about online poetry slams and articles written by teens/for teens…

These are just a few ideas. Go read the Nielsen article and start thinking!

Commenting on “books will rule over internet”

I just read this at LISNews:

A Piece From India Says In the age of internet, books would continue to dominate the minds of readers for taking society forward. This from West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee said today. Speaking at the inauguration of 30th Kolkata Book Fair here, Bhattacharjee said the importance of books would not be undermined, adding that the print media was one of the important pillars of culture.”

He’s not getting it. I’m reading The Picture of Dorian Gray right now. On my PDA. It’s still a book, just not on paper. And I downloaded it. From the Internet.


An Introduction to Using Patterns in Web Design

Just saw this, and found it quite useful… it’s titled: An Introduction to Using Patterns in Web Design, by 37signals.

It’s a simple way to sketch out web design, in an organized way. Basically, they go through these steps:
1. List stuff that needs to go on the page
2. Figure out what’s related
3. Prioritize
4. Design each part
5. Put the designed parts together
6. Actually create the page

Go read the article and try it out!

Day in the life of a web manager

Just what does a web manager do? Here’s a list of stuff I did at work today:

  • Checked email, Bloglines (an RSS feed reader) throughout the day.
  • Met with supervisor about various projects – once formally in her office, a couple more times informally around the office.
  • Added our new interim executive director’s name and email to our contact us page.
  • Had email and phone discussions with reference staff about a tax season article for our website.
  • Read about WebTrends 7, a website analytics and statistids software package, on the company’s website.
  • We filter: I checked some websites that had been requested to be unblocked (they stayed blocked).
  • Started working on the 2005-2006 web budget.
  • Went for coffee.
  • Updated text on a page and closed the helpdesk ticket (we track all IT requests).
  • Discussed possible presentation ideas for an upcoming presentation, and sent proposals.
  • Started designing a new website – did that the rest of the day (ate lunch somewhere in there, too). This involved creating and editing images, reading a couple of CSS books and hacking already-created CSS off our public website’s style sheet, and working in Dreamweaver.

Whew! I’m tired!

A Podcasting Librarian!

Greg at open stacks just made a podcast! How cool is that? He even succinctly explains what a podcast is:

“Don’t be afraid of the word podcast; it’s just an mp3 file, as normal as can
be. However, if you’re an iPod user or have an aggregator that downloads
enclosures automatically, you might want to grab my podcast feed.”

Really, a podcast can be many things. As Greg shows, it can be basically a library conference-type presentation, or it can be a live concert recording (and many other things as well). So, how can a library use podcasting for customers? Here are some ideas:

  • local storytellers
  • teen poetry readings
  • oral histories (much better than simply storing old cassettes in boxes!)
  • My library does something called Dial-a-Story… why not “Podcast-a-Story?”
  • Ever have music in the library? We do… we could record them and podcast it…
  • How to use stuff (could be boring “click file, then click on open folder, then…”)

Just some ideas…. (now I gotta go listen to that Medeski, Martin and Wood recording of Greg’s…)