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Stuff Tagged ‘usability’

This is a video from last year’s edition of FOWD, but I’ve only just stumbled upon it. 37 Signals‘ Ryan Singer delivers a great talk about Usability in Web Applications. Topics covered range from using emphasis to make your designs more usable up to using human language people can actually relate to. It’s a long video, but definitely worth the watch.

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The Five Second Test

Published 5 years ago, in Blog, Web


On the Web, first impressions are everything. Your page may have great content, it may just be what users are looking for, but, if your design fails to captivate users in a mere 5 seconds, your content might just never get noticed.

Enter the 5 Second Test, a quick Usability Test that costs next to nothing and can deliver great results. It’s basically  like any other usability test you’ve probably conducted before: there are users, tasks, and the application/site you’re testing.

At the start of the test, give your user a task to perform:

You’re on Application X’s home page. What are the ways you can subscribe to the application?

After informing the user that the page will only be visible for a short period of time, ask her to try and remember everything she sees.

You would then show your user the home page for about 5 seconds, and afterwards have her write down everything she remembers about the page. Finish up by asking one or two questions to assess whether the user has completed her task.

Sounds useful, doesn’t it? There are several benefits to using this method, the most proeminent being that it’s cheap and that you can conduct a whole lot of tests in a small window of time.

Even though conducting this kind of usability test is easy, I’ve found a handy tool that simplifies it even further. As a developer, you can create three kinds of test: classical (which is the one I described), compare (in which users compare two different interfaces) and sentiment (in which users describe their mood and most and least liked elements in the interface). As a user, you can take random tests and, as the page puts it, make an interface designer happy!

The Preference Syndrome

Published 5 years ago, in Blog, Web

The Preference Syndrome

No problem, just add it as a preference. This is a sentence that I’m afraid is said way too often by application designers and developers out there. I’m pretty certain you’ve said it before. I know I did. What’s the problem, anyway? (…) more after the jump ›

Everyone knows that, when starting out a new web project, you should do some extensive prototyping. Sketching your interface on paper, using the lowest level of detail possible, is a very good idea, mainly because it lets you quickly see the bigger picture as well as conduct some informal usability testing, without getting bogged down by the finer points of your design.

I’ll admit that so far I haven’t really been practicing what I preach. I find drawing on paper somewhat cumbersome, and it doesn’t really give me the flexibility I need to do changes, both big and small, without having to redraw the whole thing over.

Enter Mockups, a web/desktop application made by Balsamiq. It presents you with common web application interface elements, allowing you to drag and drop them around a stage in order to build prototypes. Unlike with actual pencil drawing, you can make changes really easily, and create sketches that are more accurate and actually good looking. Another cool possibility Mockups gives you is the ability to easily share your creations, and let other members of your team write comments, make changes or suggestions to your prototypes. The full version costs $79, but you can use a version with less features (such as saving) for free. Also, if you ask nicely enough, the authors just might give it to you for free. Try it out now!

Yahoo Design Patterns Library

Published 6 years ago, in Blog, Web

The Yahoo Design Patterns Library is a must-see if you are into web design and web development. There you can find answers to common design problems, such as how to correctly implement tabbed navigation, date-pickers, sign-in wizards, etc.

Each section details the problem faced, when to use a certain UI solution, and the proper ways to implement it, considering both usability and accessibility issues. You can also join the forums to further discuss each pattern and suggest ways to improve it, or even suggest new patterns, if you think something is missing. Either way, this is a great resource that you should probably use extensively when working on web projects. Keep it at hand at all times!