• Shyamala Prayaga

Usability Principles

1. Make systems easy to use, Keep the interface simple Keep the interface simple because simplicity reduces the demand on users’ brain power and focuses users’ attention on the task

– Present information in meaningful groups according to how or when they will be used. – Organize and present information or processes in a straightforward, simple manner. Group related information or processes together.

2. Provide proper search and navigation – Make the interface consistent: When a User interface is consistent, it is easy to learn and users become familiar and comfortable with the program more quickly.

Maintain consistency in all aspects of the program, including: • screen layout, • navigational elements, • use of language, graphics, and sounds, • metaphors • feedback mechanisms.

– Provide feedback Provide informative and timely feedback for every action. If the users move the mouse, the cursor moves. If they type on the keyboard, the typed letters appear on the screen. Communication should be brief, direct, and expressed from the user’s perspective.

– Let Software be forgiving for user’s mistakes By building in forgiveness, you will encourage users to explore the territory without fear of breaking or ruining anything. Users are more productive and confident with a program that they feel they can safely explore. Forgiveness encourages users to independently learn and explore.

– Offer multiple search strategies in on-line environments You should provide flexible interfaces to accommodate the various factors involved with users searching for information.

– Let users search by browsing in hypertext documents You should build support for browsing into an on-line hypertext system, since most users, especially novice or infrequent users, prefer to browse for information rather than use analytical search strategies, which are generally planned and goal driven.

– Give users menus and maps that outline their choices Users of hypertext report that a major problem is that they tend to feel “lost” or “disoriented”. This condition occurs when users do not know: · where they are in the hypertext system; · where they have already been (nodes visited); and · where they can explore (options for movement).

Provide a proper outline for visited links with different color, breadcrumbs to show where they are. Provide visual clue to help users navigate. Also provide back track option.

– Use headers, footers to tell users where they are

3. Readability:Improve readability by designing effective page and screen layouts

– Don’t overload users’ working memory

– Give your layout an obvious structure Here are some tips for using format design variables to create screen layouts: · Use headings systematically to assist the customer in searching for, retrieving, and comprehending the information. · Use vertical spacing systematically to help the customer understand the structure of the text. · Use typographic cueing to direct the customer’s attention and to express the structure of the material.

– Divide text into logical ‘chunks’ Organize textual material into logical and conceptual “screenfuls” that take into account the size of the screen and the limitations of the user’s working memory.

– Use color to enhance cognitive processing Use color to help structure the content and guide a customer through these displays. Researchers suggest using color to: · enhance the “personality” of the different functional areas, · distinguish between different types of information, · establish a link between related pieces of information, · highlight important or critical messages, and · help customers understand complex displays.

– Provide quotes, questions, or photos to support the text Provide accompanying material, such as quotes, questions, or photos, to increase the reader’s understanding of and interest in the text.

4. Use words readers can easily understand

– Use common vocabulary Use familiar vocabulary that occurs frequently in everyday text. Readers will find it easier to read, process, and recall a passage if the words are familiar.

– Avoid abbreviations, acronyms, and initialisms Although abbreviations, acronyms, and initialisms may save space, you should avoid them unless you are certain that readers will know the terms for which they stand. Consider the level of knowledge and background of the readers.

– Use headings to present key ideas and provide structure Headings can help readers recall, search, and retrieve information from the text. Headings also act as signaling devices, directing the readers’ attention to important or key ideas. Headings also help readers understand the text structure, which stimulates learning and lets them search for information in a passage. Headings help readers avoid information overload.

#Usability #UserExperience #UserInterface


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My name is Shyamala pronounced as shaa-ma-la. I am a UX evangelist turned product owner defining experiences and vision for autonomous digital assistants. 

I am a civil engineer by education, and before moving into user experience and product, I worked as an architect with a construction firm for 2 years. My passion for design and building great things for users pushed me into the UX speciality. I am a self-made UX designer with no formal educational background into UX, but my passion helped me enter and succeed in user experience.