Thursday, April 13, 2006

Usability on Auto-Pilot

Make sure your usability measures make sense for what you plan to use them for...

"There is this thing that one could describe as “usability on auto-pilot” (or “usability out of control”). This is when usability guidelines and heuristics are used simply for their own sake. Design decisions are then based on the “automated” application of guidelines without evaluating their appropriateness or the need for adapting them to the context of the system under investigation.
One good example is “consistency”. Consistency is one of the guidelines you’ll encounter in usability checklists (for all purposes). But when it comes to making an interface “consistent”, things often become difficult…or funny, as in the following example.

The task was specifying the keyboard navigation for a user interface, including the tabbing order, i.e. determining in which sequence controls and fields get the focus when the user keeps pressing the TAB key.

The interface contains several forms that are used to determine the attribute values for different objects via entry fields. Each object has several attributes with a considerable amount of overlap between different objects’ attributes. For example: there is object 1 with the attributes A, B, C, D, E, object 2 with the attributes A, B, D, F and object 3 with the attributes B, C, E, G.
The crucial aspect is that the importance of attributes varies for different objects, e.g., attribute A was of major importance for object 1 while it was of minor importance for object 2, i.e. entering a value for attribute A was not always required for object 2.
So far, so good."   continued ...   (Via Another Useful Blog)

When you combine 'consistency' with tabbing order - User Interface Design, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Ergonomics

When you combine 'consistency' with tabbing order


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