#heweb09 Increasing Web Usability (with or without a redesign)

Notes from #heweb09 presentation – visit http://2009.highedweb.org for abstract & podcast.

Eye Tracking

poynterextra.org/eyetrack2004/hp7.htm > part of an eye tracking study > this is how fast people are looking through your pages.

users will spent at approximately 10 – 15 seconds scanning your site before clicking away – consume about 20%

F Pattern or Golden Triangle (piece of pizza principle) holds true.

200 in the CMS – only get access after taking a full day of training (half day on writing for web, half day on using the cms)

Banner blindness (not looking to columns), not reading the bottom, zig zagging – not reading, not even making it to the end of a paragraph.

Scanning left to right – because that is how our language has trained us

Paragraphs vs lists – probably only reading the first words of each bullet


most users don’t read text thoroughly

first two paragraphs = most important info

subheads, paragraphs & bullets should start with information-carrying words.

Writing is writing … right?

Before beginning, place self in position of other members of your online community.

Assume users know nothing about:

  • Your organizational chart
  • Your Institution’s lingo
  • Program/department to which you are referring

Students who were coming in did not know what core curriculum was – they called it “the basics” – and couldn’t find it on the website because site used internal language vs user language.

Most people scan web pages – not read them

50% text on web as print counterparts – half as much text on the web as in print

Cut the “marketese” and the welcome mat. First paragraph is your prime real estate – really the only place they read, why waste it?

Welcome letter from the Chancellor/President – we can’t cut it, but we can move it! (Bury it!) I like a well done Dean’s Message – but agree, it doesn’t have to be near top level. Instead, put location, office hours.

Don’t use clever spelling  “Fysics” – search engines won’t find it, scanning eyes won’t find it.

Use terms your target audience is looking for – i.e. Master’s vs Graduate

User’s expect underlined/colored text to be a hyperlink.  Use bold instead.

“You’re contributing to the bulletization of the English language.” We didn’t invent bullets, we are telling you how people are reading. If you want to talk to them, you have to write the way they read.

Click here: hyperlink the word that refers to the content – now hyperlink does double duty: draws attention to the word AND is a link.





How to get faculty to buy in/do away with fat paragraphs? They had buy in above the faculty. They did a LOT of research.  Using Google Analytics to say “this is how it worked then” “this is how it works now”.  Give them a “prominent looking” place for a teaser sentence.

cartella.tccd.edu susan ragland her employee website has all the notes




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