Brief description on usability of web
Users should be able to simply, quickly, and intuitively use any web app, like
with any tool in life, be it a car, phone, or anything else. After all, a useful web
app doesn’t do much good if it’s a pain in the butt to use – many users will
eventually give up and go to an easier-to-use alternative.
What the user isn’t even conscious of you’ll be able to see immediately and fix
any interface issues.
Okay, now here are our 10 Web Application Usability Guidelines:
1. Have a Consistent and Standardized UI
Whatever you settle on for your interface, keep it constant. Don’t have one style for one page, another style for
other pages, and whatnot. It takes long enough to establish familiarity with an interface – don’t make it even
harder for the user by introducing inconsistency, be it color scheme, layout and order of elements, and
anything else. Also, try to use as many standardized elements as possible. There’s no need to get creative
with buttons – it’s not an art piece, it’s an actionable item the user will frequently click on and not think about.
Have buttons look like buttons, check boxes look like check boxes, sliding/”click next” areas look just like what
they do, and so forth.
Example: Notable App
Notable is allows you to take any webpage screenshot, sketch or wireframe and exchange notes on specific
details with anyone and is a fantastic example of what we have just been talking about. The homepage, all
internal pages and the actual application all have a consistent UI and standard styling, as you can see from
the images below:
2. Guide the user
The worst thing to a user is having to guess what to do next. Guide the user so he
or she won’t have to. If you want them to proceed onto the next step, then make
it clear where to click to progress. If one action is more important than the other,
have the button or action area for it prominently displayed. You don’t need to go
as far as hand-holding the user (which could turn some people off), but limit the
choices and make the desired choices ridiculously obvious.
3. Make (Call-to-Action) Interactive
Make click and tap targets as large as possible. Why hide them if you want the user to
be clicking on them? Haven’t you felt frustrated pixel-hunting for a button in certain
web apps? Don’t make your users suffer the same – make the interactive objects big
and obvious. At the very least, make interactive objects noticeably bigger than the
surrounding elements and text so that they stand out.
Here are some effective examples of Call-to-Actions buttons:
4. Give Feedback – Both for User’s
Interacting and Progressing
There few things worse in a web app than not knowing if your click or tap went
through. You sit there like a sucker waiting for the action to complete when in
reality your click or tap didn’t even register – especially when it’s for a process that
asks not to click multiple times. So give visual feedback when a user’s interacting,
as well as the user’s progress if applicable.
When a user clicks or taps a button, you can have a visual feedback that the user
has done something, be it a loading wheel, a change in the button’s appearance,
or any other visual cue. The same goes for progress – if a user is uploading a file or
something, have a loading bar so they know it’s loading as well as how much time
is left. Don’t leave them guessing if their file is uploading, the browser decided to
give out, or some other error occurred.
5. Never Have Users Repeat Anything &
Keep Signup Info to a Minimum
Ask for any info only once. After all, don’t you hate repeating yourself. Don’t make
users suffer through that. Have them perform any action only once, ask them for
info only once, and anything else that your web app needs from the user should
only be done once.
The quickest way to turn a potential user away from your app is to ask them,
when they are signing up, to fill in lots of text-fields. There really is nothing more
annoying and time-wasting. Ask for only for a maximum of five or six fields, that
should be enough to keep their interest. Should you need more information after
signing-up ask for it then.
GoSquared, an app that monitors your website’s visitors in real-time, has a very
simple (yet well designed) and effective sign-up form.
6. Always Have Default Values in Fields
Guiding the user. Having a simple default value in a text field will push the user in
the right direction as to what they need to type in. “First name”, “Last name”,
“Email address”, “Password”, “Country”, and so forth.
7. Explain How the Inputs Info Will Be
A continued theme of not having the user guess or be uncertain as to what’s
happening in your web app. Make it as clear, comfortable and affirming as
possible for your users by clearly explaining how any inputed info will be used.
“Your email will be your login username”, “Your location will be used to *do
something*”, and so forth. Here are some examples:
8. Don’t Have any Reset or Mass-Delete
Big red “self destruct” buttons are big no-no. There’s almost no situation where a
user will have to wipe every scrap of data and start again – usually it will be going
back and fixing or changing one or a few values. Thus, a reset and mass-delete
button would serve no purpose other than to frustrate the user by having to input
everything again should they accidentally click the button (or out of curiosity
even). Avoid this by not even giving users the option.
9. Have Clear and Explanatory Error &
This further puts the user at peace and comfort with your web app. You reaffirm
that nothing major is wrong, or that it wasn’t their fault for getting the error
message, or whatever else.
Instead of a “Oops, something went wrong” message that doesn’t inspire
confidence, have something more specific and explanatory like “Our database
which holds your account info is temporarily inaccessible and will be back shortly”.
10. Include a Clear Visual Hierarchy and
Make sure your layout and navigation is very clear. This gives the user a sense of
where they are in your web app, which makes them feel in control and confident
in using your web app.
Example 1: Delicious
Breadcrumbs are traditionally used as a sub-navigation, but with Delicious, they
are elevated prominently and used as the main nav tool for the user. This is
perhaps the only truly perfect example of breadcrumbs being used