Tech Talks: Part 1 ~ Understanding Usability
As part of an initiative to get out of the usual circle of thinking and space we are in and to have some fun, everyone in the Creately team was encouraged to contribute ideas and understand how the world is evolving in terms of technology and innovation. The main prerequisites were to do a talk on anything that caught our fancy but to keep it interesting and exciting.
So we all ended up casting lots, and I got the first shot at this interesting initiative. Being a QA Engineer, I chose to offer some insight into what we techies call – Usability. This term can be defined as “how well users can learn and use a product to achieve their goals and how satisfied they are with that process”. Usability also refers to methods, which help in improving ease-of-use during the design process of any product.
It would be an impossible task to transfer everything that we discussed onto this space. Rather it would be more useful if I were to just state the more pertinent factors of the presentation, which would make it more easy to digest. Now, there are 5 basic factors that are used to assess Usability. They are:
- Learnability – Is it easy for users to accomplish basic task of a system, application or a particular product when they use it for the first time?
- Efficiency – How effectively can you finish a task on the system?
- Memorability – How easily can users recall the steps of a particular task, after not using the app for awhile?
- Errors – How many critical errors do users make and can they recover from such errors easily?
- Satisfaction – How pleasant was the user experience?
One of the chief benefits of understanding such a potent topic is that it would educate the non-geeks and subsequently lead us to further improve Creately by thinking more proactively. And this is where it gets interesting. I used practical examples to show how theory fits in perfectly.
Common usability mistakes in web design
Now we are going to look at some common usability mistakes in web design.
The most common mistake is a bad search facility. Literal search engines reduce usability, because they are unable to handle typos, plurals, hyphens and other variants.
PDF file for online reading
There are many reasons why PDF files for online reading leads to reduced usability. They are as follows.
- Users may not enjoy coming across a PDF file while browsing because it can break the flow of the browsing experience.
- Even simple things like printing , saving a document are difficult because standard browser commands does not work
- Users cannot find a simple way to return to the site
- Users have to wait way too long to view the document because it takes ages to load depending on the browser.
Not changing colors of visited links
Due to this common “oversight” users cannot identify the visited links and they may end up revisiting the same link again and again.
Reading a wall of text is usually a painful experience. But there are ways through which you can have text that supports scannability. Consider taking into account some of the elements below.
- Bulleted list
- Highlighted key words
- Short paragraphs
- Simple writing style
It would make sense to break this post into two, since it would give you some time to ruminate over what has been stated here. Make sure you stick around for the final part of this post on Monday.
References used: www.useit.com, www.usability.gov
2 Comments + Add Comment
Leave a comment
Creately is an easy to use Online Diagramming software - purpose built for team collaboration. Powerful features and an intuitive interface make Creately ideal for teams working together on everything from Business Diagrams, Strategy Maps, Flowcharts, Web Mockups to UML designs.
Here we share our experiences and lessons learnt building a web-company.