Fundamental Guidelines for Web Usability

  • New York: Thursday, February 10
  • Hong Kong: Wednesday, March 2
  • Melbourne: Wednesday, March 9
  • London: Wednesday, April 6
  • Washington D.C.: Wednesday, April 20

Jakob Nielsen
Kara Pernice
Hoa Loranger

Full-Day Tutorial

Which of the 1,549 documented Web usability guidelines are most important? This tutorial focuses on the key insights into people’s website behavior and on the resulting top guidelines for making your website easier and more enjoyable to use.

Understanding these general principles will help you think through design problems, analyze usability challenges specific to your own project, and make the correct trade-offs when you have conflicting considerations.

This course distills the findings from our testing of 831 websites with 2,744 users in 16 countries across four continents, including usability tests, field studies, and eyetracking research.

What You’ll Learn

  • How users behave when using the Web, and how to design your site to survive their rough treatment
  • The relative importance of search and navigation—and how to improve both so people can find stuff on your site
  • How to describe products and services so that your customers understand them
  • How to combine Internet presence, search, navigation, and content into a pleasant user experience that makes people want to do business with you
  • The key points users care most about: Where to spend your money for maximum improvement in user-experience metrics

Course Outline

  • Characteristics of the Web user experience
    • How people visit sites
    • Why and when they leave
  • Simplicity and feature choice
  • Flow
  • Feedback
  • Navigation and information architecture
    • Category and link names
    • Link design
    • Clickability and perceived affordance
    • Persistent navigation
    • Pop-ups
    • Opening new browser windows
  • Page layout
  • Enhancing credibility and trust
  • Loyalty: Enticing users to return
    • Registration
    • Value-added features for repeat users
  • Information foraging
    • User attention
    • Scrolling
    • Information scent
  • Search
    • Query strings
    • How people use search engine results pages (SERP)
    • Improving site-specific search
  • Homepages
  • Illustrations and graphics
  • Advertising
  • Forms design
    • Registration and collecting personal information
    • Error handling
  • Content usability
    • How users read online
    • Writing for the Web
    • Low-literacy users
    • Presenting text: Legibility and readability
  • International users
  • Guidelines and standards
    • Internal consistency across site
    • Externally-driven user expectations
  • Trends in Web user experience
    • When and how to embrace innovation


This full-day tutorial includes lectures, extensive video highlights from user testing and eyetracking, and some exercises.


Copies of the presentation slides

Who Should Attend

This course is suited both for usability veterans and people new to Web usability. For novices, the tutorial offers the most basic and important guidelines for improving Web designs. For attendees familiar with some guidelines, the tutorial offers the chance to learn the principles and research that underlie the recommendations. Understanding the foundations of usability will let all attendees use principles to analyze their own unique design problems.


photo of Jakob NielsenJakob Nielsen is a Principal of Nielsen Norman Group. He is the founder of the “discount usability engineering” movement, which emphasizes fast and efficient methods for improving the quality of user interfaces. Nielsen, noted as “the world’s leading expert on Web usability” by U.S. News and World Report and “the next best thing to a true time machine” by USA Today, is the author of the best-selling book Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity, which has sold more than a quarter of a million copies in 22 languages. His other books include Usability EngineeringUsability Inspection MethodsInternational User InterfacesHomepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed, and Prioritizing Web Usability. Nielsen’s Alertbox column on Web usability has been published on the Internet since 1995 and currently has about 200,000 readers. From 1994 to 1998, Nielsen was a Sun Microsystems Distinguished Engineer. His previous affiliations include Bell Communications Research, the Technical University of Denmark, and the IBM User Interface Institute. He holds 79 United States patents, mainly on ways of making the Internet easier to use. Presenting in New York, Hong Kong, Melbourne, London, and Washington D.C..
photo of Kara PerniceKara Pernice is the Managing Director at Nielsen Norman Group and heads the company’s East Coast operations. She has led many of NN/g’s major intercontinental research studies, generated the resulting design guidelines, and coauthored the book Eyetracking Web Usability as well as many research reports, including Designing Corporate IntranetsDesigning for AccessibilityDesigning for People Over the Age of 65, and Designing Websites to Maximize Press Relations. She is a leading authority on intranet usability and eyetracking usability (The Wall Street Journal called her “an intranet guru”). She judged the submissions for and coauthored NN/g’s Government Intranets Reportand its Intranet Design Annuals in 2001200220032005200620072008, and 2009. She has also done extensive research in evaluating emotion and design, given presentations on a wide range of topics, and worked with clients in various industries, including publishing, entertainment, technology, finance, pharmaceuticals, and government. She has more than 15 years of experience in evaluating usability and has established successful usability programs at Lotus Development, Iris Associates (an IBM subsidiary), and Interleaf. She chaired the Usability Professionals’ Association 2000 and 2001 conferences, and served as 2002 conference advisor. She holds an M.B.A. from Northeastern University and a B.A. from Simmons College. Presenting in New York, London, and Washington D.C..
photo of Hoa LorangerHoa Loranger is a Director at Nielsen Norman Group and heads the San Diego office. Loranger has consulted with many large, well-known companies in such areas as finance, customer support, intranets, e-commerce, entertainment, and technology. She has conducted international usability research worldwide and has given keynote presentations and tutorials on a wide range of topics, including user testing, paper prototyping, and fundamentals of Web usability. She coauthored the book Prioritizing Web Usability (New Riders Press) and has written reports on design for Flash-based applicationsinvestor relations“about us” pages, B2B websiteslocation finders, and teens. Before joining NN/g, she served as human factors lead for Intuit’s Consumer Tax and Small Business Division, where her group was responsible for user-interaction and visual design for the TurboTax product line. At TRW (now part of Northrop Grumman), she specialized in both hardware and software systems, including navigational applications and computer configurations in military vehicles. Loranger earned an M.A. in human factors and applied experimental psychology from California State University, Northridge, and a B.A. in psychology from University of California, Irvine. Presenting in Hong Kong.


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