Friday, June 01, 2007

Usability interview with Opera!

An interview with the Opera usability team ...

"Six members of Opera involved with Usability, User Experience and System Testing all took the time out of their busy schedules (providing you all with the best internet experience) to answer some questions on Opera and usability.

... Let's start off with a bit about how Opera views the subject of user experience, user centered design and usability in general...

Wolf: Opera aims for the best experience on any device and everybody in the company is highly aware of the importance of usability and accessibility. Of course opinions of us usability people and the developers sometimes differ and we would maybe sometimes push for solutions that we regard more usable but are limited by other factors. Still, the spread of opinions within the company helps us to not forget specific interests in any direction.

Yenny: Yeah, there can be a big difference between what we would like UCD to be in Opera and what it is currently. It can be challenging.

I know exactly how challenging it can be due to those factors. Security is often the factor that trumps usability in my line of work.

Please share what you can about what the usability team does for the Opera product line.

Yenny: We are still very new on formal UCD processes so we mainly do user studies (personas, scenarios), interaction design and usability testing for a certain set of products.

On to some more specifics...How does Opera balance interface consistency (with other browsers, for migrating users) with its own innovative thoughts and UI?

Wolf: Opera is in a difficult position of having strong but critical expert supporters. They demand easy access to expert features while we need to try to keep them "out of reach" for novice users, which we need to attract if we want our market share to grow. This problem is reflected by the strong opinions expressed in forums every time we introduce or modify a new feature. Opera users like their browser and are as unhappy about change as users from any other browser. This is why we need to try both: Creating a better browsing experience that is still recognizable and suitable in comparison to our competition.

... What's your favorite Opera change/enhancement that came about due to some usability research?

Kenneth: A recent enhancement was the inclusion of a right-click menu to speed dial. In a study, people were asked "change what's in number 5." We found that every participant tried to right click (an early prototype didn't have any right-click). Pretty simple, but powerful. Simply watch what people attempt, and make sure you do something reasonable for that action."    (Continued via User Centered)    [Usability Resources]

Speed Dial - Usability, User Interface Design

Speed Dial

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