Presentations, Sustainability

World Usability Day presentations

Just a note to say “thanks!” to Lisa and the organisers of World Usability Day Sydney – it was a pleasure to speak and I hope that it added constructively to the day’s dialogue.

The slidedecks from the two presentations are provided below both as a Slideshare presentation and as a PDF download which contains my notes, links to further information and image credits.

Usability in a sustainable future

In this presentation my aim was to provide an overview of how usability and user experience design practice can play a positive role in achieving sustainability outcomes. It proposes we extend our concept of usability to include pre-use-ability and end-of-use-ability, considering design, packaging, materials, re-use, recycling and disposal, demonstrating the concepts with recent examples.

Usability in a sustainable future slides with notes (PDF 1.65MB)

Exploring the Human Habitat

This presentation focuses on the research process behind the redevelopment of the Future is Man Made (FiMM) site that I managed while working at WWF-Australia. The site as outlined in the presentation was launched just prior to Earth Hour 2007, and the research informed the approach to social media engagement for Earth Hour as well as the FiMM site itself.

Human Habitat slides with notes (PDF 1.59MB)

NGOs & Nonprofits

Donations usability

Today’s Alertbox references findings of a Nielson Norman Group research study on usability of donation forms for non-profits.

I’ll be grabbing a copy of the full report, but I just wanted to focus on a couple of points from the Alertbox piece.

The first is this point about stated motivations of donors – what they are looking for from organisations when choosing to donate:

We asked participants what information they want to see on non-profit websites before they decide whether to donate. Their answers fell into 4 broad categories, 2 of which were the most heavily requested:

  • The organization’s mission, goals, objectives, and work.
  • How it uses donations and contributions.

Makes sense – this is how I’d answer too. The first point turns out to be the most important:

…an organization’s mission, goals, objectives, and work was by far the most important. Indeed, it was 3.6 times as important as the runner-up issue…

…(Information about how organizations used donations did impact decision-making, but it was far down the list relative to its second-place ranking among things that people claimed that they’d be looking for.)

On finding the donation link, the piece says:

Amazingly, on 17% of the sites, users couldn’t find where to make a donation. You’d imagine that donation-dependent sites would at least get that one design element right, but banner-blindness or over-formatting caused people to overlook some donation buttons.

Banner blindness means that using “big bold buttons” can actually have the opposite of the intended effect. (If I had a dollar for every request to “make the button bigger and more prominent” and having to argue this case…)

Having clearly labeled navigation options is also important. In my own testing I’ve found that the word “Donate” far outperforms other labels (e.g. “Support”) – another case of being clear on your trigger words for navigation.

The last point I thought worth mentioning was a point specifically on usability. For the most part usability was ok, except for one standout:

Our testing did identify some small usability problems, but the only big problem was caused by sites that used third-party payment services, which stumped some users.

My interpretation of this point is that when non-profits rely on third-party payment pages such as those provided by PayPal or their bank to take donations, that the user experience is significantly impacted.

I think this is particularly problematic for smaller NGOs and non-profits who can’t afford to setup their own e-commerce system, and who therefore rely on such third-party systems.

My experience with such systems as a user has never been good, so I advise my clients (as I did my previous employers) to avoid such systems. My argument was that the break in continuity (being directed to a different site) and the usability issues often inherent in such solutions would significantly impact donor confidence, and by extension $$ raised.

I’ve sometimes heard the argument that people trust the banks’ system better than the non-profit’s website, or that including PayPal as an option on your site actually increases donations.

But the usability issues have always been my biggest concern in not implementing such third party payment systems. (I have only begrudgingly started using PayPal more often because trying to pay by credit card in a PayPal enabled system is such an awful experience.

To date, however, it’s been only my word against the vendors’. It’s good to have some empirical evidence on the matter – so I’m looking forward to reviewing it in more detail.


Exploring SEO – Part 3: Making information findable

One of the nice things about legitimate SEO approaches is that “best practices” for websites are also best practices for search engines. Making information findable for your visitors, also makes it more accessible, and more useful, for search engines.

Over the jump I’ll expand on a few techniques that can help increase your site’s visibility to search engines.

Continue reading


World Usability Day

I received this via email from a friend and thought it might be of interest:

World Usability Day – Be a part of it!

World Usability Day 2008 is just 24 hours away. This is your chance to be part of a global effort spanning 43 countries and over 150 locations as we help spread the world about the importance of usability. This year’s theme is transportation, and our Sydney event focuses on the issues and challenges that face alternate forms of transportation in and around the city.

UPA Sydney has put together a varied and interesting program of presentations, discussions, workshops and activities. Our impressive line-up of speakers includes:

  • Alinta Thornton (User Experience Lead, Independent Digital Media) on what it really takes to get people out of their cars
  • Kevin Cox (Founder and Chief Technical Officer, Edentiti) running a discussion on how to make carpooling viable
  • Alan Cadogan (Strategy Director, City of Sydney) discussing the City of Sydney’s Sustainable Sydney 2030 vision
  • Michael Lister (Senior Transport Planner, Parsons Brinckerhoff) discussing bus route design – unleashing the omnibologist within
  • Warren Salomon (Sustainable Transport Consultants Pty Ltd) on the major role that bicycles will play in the new transport paradigm
  • You will also have the chance to view and evaluate the design and photo exhibition, participate in other workshops and discussions, and join the global transport challenge. And finally, you’re invited to help us close out World Usability Day 2008 with a social event.

This event is free and open to the public and will run from 10am– 5pm, Thursday, November 13, 2008.


University of Technology Sydney
Haymarket campus
Room 12, Level 1, Block B, Building 5
1 – 59 Quay Street, Haymarket.

Drinks to follow starting at 5:30 at Henry Henry (Henry Deane Plaza, 8A Lee St)

For more information, please visit or send email to events [at]