When and when not to list options alphabetically

A good email list for ideas to challenge the, “but we’ve always done it that way” frame of mind.

Jakob Nielsen‘s Alertbox, October 4, 2010:

Alphabetical Sorting Must (Mostly) Die

Ordinal sequences, logical structuring, time lines, or prioritization by importance or frequency are usually better than A–Z listings for presenting options to users.

  • If users know the name of the thing they want, they can usually find it in the list pretty quickly.

People Rarely Think A–Z

For most questions, either

  • users don’t know the name of the thing they want, making A–Z listings useless; or
  • the items have an inherent logic that dictates a different sort order, which makes A–Z listings directly harmful because they hide that logic.

Read more at www.useit.com

Corporate Blogs: Front Page Structure

My intuition, or personal preference, seems to have been vindicated.

I would be very interested in feedback on the different formats in which the same posts are presented.

From www.useit.com

Corporate Blogs: Front Page Structure

Showing summaries of many articles is more likely to draw in users than providing full articles, which can quickly exhaust reader interest.

Eyetracking Blog Readers

We recently conducted an eyetrackingstudy of how people read the “official” weblogs of companies, government agencies, and major non-profit organizations. I’ll refer to all these collectively as “corporate blogs” to differentiate them from the larger world of personal blogs, which typically don’t have a business goal and thus don’t interest us here.The main purpose of our research was to generate new guidelines for the Writing for the Web seminars, and most of the findings accordingly centered on issues like preferred topics, tone of voice, scannability and layout, charts vs. tables, and how readers interpret links. But we also got interesting results that inform this article’s central question: whether to display summaries or full articles on the front page.

Read more at www.useit.com