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Communications of the ACM

CACM online

An Ongoing Study in Usability

Communications Web site homepage

The new Communications Web site went live last month after several weeks of intense beta testing. While we gleaned many valuable insights and lessons in this process, several highlights and user comments do stand out:

  • Testers spent an impressive 12 minutes on the beta site before it was even in full swing, making it nine seconds shy of Top 10 rankings tracked by Nielsen/NetRatings in March 2006.
  • While Communications' site may illustrate some user preferences for print v. digital, print is still strong. At press time, Google Analytics usage statistics showed Communications magazine archive was among the top five destinations ranked by page views, just ahead of the February 2009 edition.
  • The latest batch of mobile devices is putting the design model for Communications' site to the test. One user requested a single, narrow column layout for his small mobile screen; another commented on the scrolling required to view the site from his laptop.
  • Even when beta-testers were prompted with such typical fighting words as "make bug-reporting a priority," the response was blissful. "I did not react immediately because I did not have any criticism," said one tester. "I must say, it is impressive."

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