Applied Interaction Design
Illustration by John Hersey

Understanding the header


From:

Applied Interaction Design

with David Hogue

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Video: Understanding the header

Okay. So let's start from the landing page for the Hansel and Petal demonstration web site for this course. We're going to open both the original design and the improved design. And before we start talking about some of the things that maybe problems or that we're going to change on this site, let's just take a quick look at both of the home pages. And then, we'll come back this one and talk about what some of the problems are and what we've done about it. Now, as we look at this page, you probably are noticing some things that you think might not be working very well but the design is pretty good. And the content is pretty good.
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Watch the Online Video Course Applied Interaction Design
1h 49m Beginner Jul 11, 2013

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Dave Hogue has been studying how people interact with digital devices and interfaces for over 15 years, and knows how design can make or break a website. In this course, he shares a hands-on approach to improving interaction design for a better user experience on the web. This course breaks down the components of an example site, from its homepage to categories, content, and the shopping cart, and introduces common customer scenarios that can be used to identify opportunities for improvement. You'll learn how to enhance navigation, gather feedback after interactions, manage content layers, and add features such as infinite scrolling, collapsible modules, and dynamic content to enrich the user's experience. Then compare the before and after websites to understand why these techniques make them more engaging and effective.

Topics include:
  • Defining a customer scenario
  • Improving navigation
  • Working with content in grids
  • Establishing a sense of place on category pages
  • Exploring infinite scroll and pagination methods
  • Using tooltips to deliver contextual content
  • Working with light boxes and layers
  • Improving form structure
  • Handling errors and presenting effective error messages
  • Comparing the original site to the enhanced site
Subject:
Web
Author:
David Hogue

Understanding the header

Okay. So let's start from the landing page for the Hansel and Petal demonstration web site for this course. We're going to open both the original design and the improved design. And before we start talking about some of the things that maybe problems or that we're going to change on this site, let's just take a quick look at both of the home pages. And then, we'll come back this one and talk about what some of the problems are and what we've done about it. Now, as we look at this page, you probably are noticing some things that you think might not be working very well but the design is pretty good. And the content is pretty good.

Once again, we're going to be focusing on the interaction design. So we're going to try to preserve as much as the visual design and branding as we can. But here's the homepage of the improved site, and clearly there are some differences here. It's the same content and the same branding, but we've strived to create a much better interactive experience. Right, let's go back on to the original homepage and let's start with the header. We're going to work our way down through the page here and the first thing that we notice is really the header is very simple. It's just the logo and a series of text links across the top of the page.

And although these text links look like the things that we would expect to see, one of the first things that I notices is that we're not using any hover or rollover states. So the underline between these text links is the only thing that tells me that these are links, that and the fact that they're located in the header. Now one of the issues that arises here is with this search button. People expect to find search in the header but they don't expect to find it this way. Let's talk about the issue of click depth for a second.

Most of the time when we're talking about click depth it's because we're counting the number of clicks or taps that it takes us to finish a task. And most often we're concerned that we have too many clicks that we're going through. In fact, though, as long as each step feels meaningful, and I feel like I'm moving forward, then the click depth is appropriate. But if people feel like they should've reached there goal and they're not there yet, then the click depth is too deep. Let's go back to the original website for a moment. So, here we are back on the original hansel and petal website, and we see one click for search.

Now, how deep could one click possibly be? The problem is, in this situation, one click is probably too much, because people expect to see the search bar visible at the top of the page. So let's take a look at what we did on the modified website, and this is the new header for Hansel and Petal. The content is the same, we've got the same links for account, customer service. But now we've exposed the search bar, now all I have to do is click and type in my search terms, I don't have to go to a search page in order to do it.

You'll also notice that we've added some additional information and functionality. This is a retail site after all, so these promotional messages are very important, and the header is an important place to put that. We've added a visual cue for the shopping basket, and we've added some additional informations, such as the subtotal of the price in the basket. And finally, we've added a button for the checkout, we now have a quick way to get to the checkout process for when we are finished shopping. So on the original site, we had the basics of what we needed.

We had access to our shopping basket, we had access to search, but it was just a little too far away, and not very informative. And in fact, some really important shopping functionality such as the promo message and the check out button were completely missing. So we've added those in.

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