Usability works for Virgin Holidays website

February 12, 2008

According to an article today on the website, the Virgin Holidays website has “secured a 90% increase in conversions in recent months” thanks to a usability overhaul from the Bunnyfoot company. Also claimed is “the number of online bookings for Virgin Holidays has doubled in past year”.

The full story is at


Usability and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – The perfect partners?

February 5, 2008

You may have heard the buzz about SEO and it definitely plays a key part in getting your website noticed. The aim of SEO is to get your website first or thereabouts in the search engine results lists at Google, Yahoo, etc.

The more visible your website is in the search engine results, the more likely your website is to be visited. Therefore, its vital that your website demonstrates good web usability, by being user-friendly, easy to navigate and efficiently organised. A major benefit of good web usability is that the more usable your website is, the longer users are likely to stay it, thus they are more likely to buy your products or services.

A further advantage of implementing good web usability is that it leads naturally to SEO, for reasons such as:

* Effective use of keywords helps your users find the information they want and – for SEO – keywords play a major part in search engine algorithms and search engine results
* Use of concise and accurate titles and headings helps users find information on your website and – for SEO – helps the search spider analyse your website
* Good use of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) improves the layout and consistency of navigation of your website and – for SEO – enables the search spider to actually index your content, rather than coding

In short, the combination of good web usability and an effective SEO campaign will have long lasting positive effects for your website – and business.

For further information, see my website at or contact me by email at

Services provided include web usability reports and web usability consultancy including a “Complete usability and SEO overhaul for your website” service.

Example of the consultancy services available

January 31, 2008

In addition to the standard usability reporting services I offer via my website at, I also offer consultancy services.

An example is a complete SEO and usability overhaul of a website.
This would involve the following:

  1. Web usability review and report service
  2. Assessment of current SEO rankings of the website
  3. Creation of an SEO strategy to maximize the SEO rankings of the website, with both short term and, more importantly, long term gains

For further information, contact me via or see my website

Web usability glossary added to the website

January 30, 2008
The website at now features a web usability glossary, which attempts to explain some of the terms used when talking about web usability, websites and usability in general.
The new section can be found at:

New service added – Top 20 guidelines check

January 26, 2008

The new “Top 20 guidelines check” service provides website owners with fast and cost-effective feedback on their website.

Areas checked include:

  • SEO
  • Download speed
  • Multi-browser check
  • Navigation
  • Links
  • Company information
  • Website content

Full details of this 99 Euros service –

Ski resort websites tested for usability

January 21, 2008
This new report looks at the usability of several ski resort websites, with the main focus on the usability of online information:
– Is the information easy to find via the website’s navigation?
– Is the content well-presented and easy to read?
– Does the website fulfill all the user’s information needs?
The report can be downloaded from

New SEO section added to the website

January 19, 2008

The website at now features a new section, devoted to the connection between SEO and Usability improvements to websites.

Information is currently available on:
– Usability leads to SEO
– Long term SEO through usability improvements

The new section can be found at:

Airline websites tested for usability

January 13, 2008

This new report looks at the usability of several airline websites, including leading budget airlines and two national carriers.

Under the spotlight are:
– Online Flight Bookings
– Customer Service
– Website Information

The report can be downloaded from

Basic Web Usability Blunders – Part 1

January 10, 2008

Its amazing how many websites commit the most basic of Web Usability Blunders – and usually websites of all sizes, budgets and markets are equally prone to these mistakes.

The first of the Web Usability Blunders I’ll take a look at is a problem thats been around since the first homepage with graphics – Homepages with Large File Sizes and High Download Times

These are often the most appealing homepages, but also often the most annoying – due to heavy use of graphics they simply take too long to download. Even with the recent march towards broadband, not every web user has access to broadband.

During a recent review of websites in various tourism-related industries, such as sailing, golf and skiing, I found every website was over the recommended maximum homepage size of between 40-80 KB.

Here’s some facts and figures pulled from this review:

  • only 2 of the 14 homepages were anywhere near the 40-80 KB – at 88 KB and 92 KB.
  • the largest found was a massive 1700 KB – including 599 KB graphics files and 981 KB Flash files
  • the average size for the 14 homepages was 339 KB (taking out the 1700 KB example, it reduced down to an average of 234 KB)
  • some example download speeds taken from showed that a homepage of 167 KB took 36 seconds to download on a 56k modem and 13 seconds on a 128k ISDN. 11 of the 14 websites tested were over 167 KB in size.

Why is this a Problem?

  • With many users still on slow connections, the download speed of the homepage could take longer than the user is willing to wait. This may lead to them leaving the website, rather than waiting.
  • Large homepage sizes can also sometimes cause problems with search engine spiders, which may sometime not fully spider a page if it is very large, as it may cause a timeout in the connection that the spider has to the page.

How to fix it?

This Web Usability Blunder has a few simple fixes:

  • Use higher compression rates for any JPG files used
  • Reduce the number of graphic files used
  • Reduce the physical size of any graphics files used

Useful online resources

Usability Week 2008 Conference

January 4, 2008

This is actually a series of Conferences, organised by the Nielsen Norman Group, taking place in a different international location each month.

New York – April 7-12
London – May 19-24
San Francisco – June 16-21
Melbourne – July 21-26

Among the offerings are a 3-day usability camp “Usability in Practice”, 3-day session “Interaction Design 101” and several tutorial day sessions, including “Websites That Sell” and “Writing for the Web:Content Usability”.

Full details at