Friday, February 17, 2006

Creating Online Application Power Users Using Graduated Usability

Keeping the Web simple and easy has driven Internet usage to more than a billion people worldwide. Anyone with a connection, a browser and the ability to enter a URL can use the Internet today. This simplicity is great for those looking to browse their favorite blog or search for a recipe for dinner, but it has many problems as an application development platform — usability being the primary issue. Of course, tools and HTML compatibility also pose problems, but these are development issues and are dealt with by a few well-paid, trained individuals. Usability affects a greater number of people over a longer period of time.

HTML and current browsers are built to deliver content-rich Web sites, making it easy to navigate between documents. In contrast, applications need complex workflows and usability features to allow users to take advantage of the functionality they deliver. In order to fit applications into the navigation-driven approach of the Web, developers and designers typically use the navigation of a link to perform an action, rather than navigating to a new document. This makes learning to use online applications easy by fitting into existing Web usage patterns, but not necessarily usable.

"Simplicity does not equal usability"
While the aforementioned statement may seem counter intuitive, "usability" encompasses the effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction with which users achieve tasks in a given application. Because users differ in many facets — particularly in experience and skill level, they will judge the effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction of the application differently.

Graduated Usability is a concept that, when applied to application design, allows a single application to provide the means for any user, no matter their particular skill set or experience level, to effectively and efficiently use that application. Additionally, an application designed with Graduated Usability will inherently provide the ability to transition users from one skill or experience level to the next. When novice users are transformed into power users, they can more efficiently complete tasks and perform more skilled tasks."   continued ...   (Via

web-based email increases accessibility and reduces deployment effort - User Interface Design, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Ergonomics

web-based email increases accessibility and reduces deployment effort


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