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Unfortunately my dialogue with a user often turns out like this:

Them: your site doesn't work
Me:   Why doesn't it work? What errors are you seeing?
Them: idk it just doesn't work

This confused me as I've tested to see if the resource is being sent to several different IPs outside the network (by checking the server logs) and they are. I've concluded that it is a user problem.

Here's a screencap of my site with the song names blacked out. The ones in the first box don't have audio players, but are direct links to the songs. The one at the end contains the song name, and when you click on it, a player is revealed. If the audio player doesn't work, they can right-click, copy audio location and paste it into the browser.

enter image description here

How can I improve this interface so that users actually stay on the page instead of navigating away?

  • 1
    I assume you exaggerated the dialogue a bit but maybe you're not asking the right questions. If they have trouble saying "what doesn't work" what about "Where were you/what were you doing when you felt that something's not working as you expected?" If indeed they don't see an error message but just have a feeling of unresponsiveness / confusing UX leading them to do something else than they thought and not getting the response they expected (see Suchman's garden paths) then your question is not very actionable. – Steve Dodier-Lazaro Aug 28 '14 at 0:08
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We have very little information about the website (e.g., who are your users? In which context do they user your website? What are the user journeys? etc.), so it's hard to give you specific advice.

Anyway, I think that the article "3 Tricks to Make Users Think Your App Loads Faster" published a couple of weeks ago summarises some interesting practices. Even if the title refers to mobile apps, the techniques described are cross-device and valid for desktop applications and websites too.

They include:

  1. Instant & Steady Progress Bars
  2. Background Operations
  3. Dummy Content

Some extra ideas to "improve this interface so that users actually stay on the page instead of navigating away":

  • You can show some music/song related quote, fact or tip while the song is loading. This is one of the messages that Balsamiq, a wireframing software, displays during loading times:

enter image description here

  • Make sure you're implementing all the available techniques to make the page faster. You can find many suggestions and tutorials on Google's "Make the Web Faster".
  • (optional) You could, to same extent, adjust the quality of the audio provided according to user's bandwith. Since I know that it's a tricky and not much reliable measure (as described here) I'm only suggesting you have a look at it. It may be worth trying or not - you decide.
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"How can I improve this interface so that users actually stay on the page instead of navigating away?"

Avoid creating stuff for teenagers.

Only kidding. I'd recommend auto loading (not auto playing) the first song in the list. The user will see a visual cue and should understand how to play the song or change tracks.

  • I have preload="auto". None of the songs autoplay. The users typically don't care about certain songs so it doesn't make sense to only preload the first song. – user53631 Aug 27 '14 at 22:24
  • My point is that you should show the player by default. Why are you asking the user to click on a song to reveal the player? – Paul Dessert Aug 27 '14 at 22:49
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Just from a visual analysis of the design, there a couple of design issues I see here.

enter image description here

You are expecting the user to perform two actions while landing on a page i.e. scan the content and then choose a song and expect a player to pop up. This interaction might seem too cumbersome to users which causes the additional impatience when users wait for a song to load and then when it takes time, navigate away. A relook at your design might help

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

The wireframe above has a preloaded video player which is populated by the video the user selects and is not an unexpected interaction since the user sees the video player and the list of choices and knows the interaction would lead to the song being played.The user is not expected to read instructions on how to play the song and its more intuitive.

Here are some examples of sites\a[[s who show a video along with the playlist allowing users to make the inference easily.

enter image description here

enter image description here

This said, I would recommend conducting an usability test with your users to see how they navigate your site and ask them to talk aloud so that you are aware of the challenges they face or the pain points in the site. This article will give you a good starting point on best practices for how to conduct an usability test.

To quote the article

Best Practices

  • Treat participants with respect and make them feel comfortable.

  • Remember that you are testing the site not the users. Help them understand that they are helping us test the prototype or Web site.

  • Remain neutral – you are there to listen and watch. If the participant asks a question, reply with “What do you think?” or “I am interested in what you would do.”
  • Do not jump in and help participants immediately and do not lead the participant. If the participant gives up and asks for help, you must decide whether to end the scenario, give a hint, or give more substantial help.
  • The team should decide how much of a hint you will give and how long you will allow the participants to work on a scenario when they are clearly going down an unproductive path.
  • Take good notes. Note-takers should capture what the participant did in as much detail as possible as well as what they say (in their words). The better the notes are that are taken during the session, the easier the analysis will be.
  • Measure both performance and subjective (preference) metrics. People's performance and preference do not always match. Often users will perform poorly but their subjective ratings are very high. Conversely, they may perform well but subjective ratings are very low.
    • Performance measures include: success, time, errors, etc.
    • Subjective measures include: user's self reported satisfaction and comfort ratings.

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