Usability 101

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Basic introduction to (mainly Nielsen) usability principles for a non UX audience. Content oriented with examples of success stories (both public sector complex sites) and their impact on objectives.

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Usability 101

  1. 1. Usability principles (Design in the connected age) 303Lowe @digital
  2. 2. “Design is how it works.” Steve Jobs, 2003
  3. 3. “We live in the age of utility.” Adam Ferrier, 2013.
  4. 4. Definition Usability Utility Usefulness
  5. 5. Usability is a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use. Definition Jakob Nielsen, 2012.
  6. 6. Usability and the utility, not the visual design, determine the success or failure of a web-site. Definition Smashing Magazine, 2008.
  7. 7. Definition • Usability = how easy & pleasant these features are to use. • Utility = whether it provides the features you need. • Useful = usability + utility.
  8. 8. 5 Components Learnability Efficiency Memorability Errors Satisfaction
  9. 9. Usability components • Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design? • Efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks? • Memorability: When users return after a period of none use, how easily can they reestablish proficiency? • Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are they, and how easily can they recover from them? • Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use the design?
  10. 10. So why does it matter?
  11. 11. If a website is difficult to use, people leave. If the homepage fails to clearly state what a company offers and what users can do on the site, people leave. If users get lost on a website, they leave. If a website's information is hard to read or doesn't answer users' key questions, they leave. Note a pattern here? Usability matters Jakob Nielsen, 2012.
  12. 12. In practice Design principles
  13. 13. How do users think? • Users appreciate quality and credibility. • Users don’t read, they scan. • Web users are impatient and insist on instant gratification. • Users don’t make optimal choices. • Users follow their intuition. • Users want to have control.
  14. 14. Usability principles 1. Don’t make users think. According to Krug’s first law of usability, the web- page should be obvious and self-explanatory. When you’re creating a site, your job is to get rid of the question marks — the decisions users need to make consciously, considering pros, cons and alternatives.
  15. 15. Usability principles 2. Don’t squander users’ patience. In every project when you are going to offer your visitors some service or tool, try to keep your user requirements minimal. The less action is required from users to test a service, the more likely a random visitor is to actually try it out.
  16. 16. Usability principles 3. Manage to focus users’ attention. Focusing users’ attention to specific areas of the site with a moderate use of visual elements can help your visitors to get from point A to point B without thinking of how it actually is supposed to be done. The less question marks visitors have, the better sense of orientation they have and the more trust they can develop towards the company the site represents.
  17. 17. Usability principles 4. Strive for feature exposure. Letting the user see clearly what functions are available is a fundamental principle of successful user interface design. What matters is that the content is well-understood and visitors feel comfortable with the way they interact with the system.
  18. 18. Usability principles 5. Make use of effective writing. The Web is different from print. Promotional writing won’t be read. Long text blocks without images and highlighted keywords will be skipped. Exaggerated language will be ignored. Avoid cute or clever names, marketing-induced names, company-specific names, and unfamiliar technical names. For example “sign up” is better than “start now!” which is again better than “explore our services”.
  19. 19. Usability principles 6. Strive for simplicity. The “keep it simple” principle should be the primary goal of site design. Users are rarely on a site to enjoy the design; furthermore, in most cases they are looking for the information despite the design.
  20. 20. Usability principles 7. Don’t be afraid of the white space. Complex structures are harder to read, scan, analyze and work with. When a new visitor approaches a design layout, the first thing they try to do is to scan the page and divide the content area into digestible pieces of information.
  21. 21. Usability principles 8. Communicate using a “visible language”. Organize: provide the user with a clear and consistent conceptual structure. Economize: do the most with the least amount of cues and visual elements. Communicate: match the presentation to the capabilities of the user. Balance legibility, readability, typography, symbolism and color or texture in order to communicate successfully.
  22. 22. Usability principles 9. Conventions are our friends. Conventions are very useful as they reduce the learning curve, the need to figure out how things work. With conventions you can gain users’ confidence, trust, reliability and prove your credibility. Follow users’ expectations — understand what they’re expecting from a site navigation, text structure, search placement etc.
  23. 23. Usability principles 10. Test early, test often. Usability tests always produce useful results. Either you’ll be pointed to the problems you have or you’ll be pointed to the absence of major design flaws which is in both cases a useful insight for your project.
  24. 24. Case study nyc.gov
  25. 25. Mayor Mike Bloomberg recently unveiled the newly relaunched nyc.gov, the official website for the biggest city in the country. This was the site’s first redesign in a decade, and the new user experience is unlike any other government website out there. This was our goal. nyc.gov Rachel Haot, Chief Digital Officer, NYC.
  26. 26. nyc.gov • Your user is the center of the universe. • In God we trust, everyone else bring data. • Make mobile your first consideration. • Focus on service. • Don’t skimp on search. • Every page is your homepage. • Show your users what’s in it for them. • Get fresh perspectives from the smartest people you can find.
  27. 27. If someone is spending a minute or two or three or four cursing you out from their desk, it's not going to be easily fixed with some clever advertising. Final thought Seth Godin, 2010.
  28. 28. Thanks! Questions? Want to know more? http://uxmag.com/ http://uxdesign.smashingmagazine.com/ http://mashable.com/publishers/ux-magazine/

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