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User Experience (Usability)

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Apr 21, 2004 9:26 am re: re: re: Familiarity (f)or usability
Ashutosh Bijoor
Thanks Kyle and Mark, I guess your comments by and large validate our strategy of emphasizing on familiarity. I particularly appreciated Mark's comment about design being an evolutionary process... goes very well with the "agile development methodology" that we are following for our applications, in which the iterative process is emphasized. I also related to the comment that users will jump straight to the real features of the application if the interface is familiar. We were slightly put off when users did not appreciate the effort we had put in to create an interface that was largely familiar to them. It took us a great amount of effort in pushing the limits of CSS+DHTML while accomodating the vagaries of the selected browser versions. The users' reaction was complete nonchalance about the new interface! They did not realize how difficult it was for us. They just took it for granted, and jumped straight into the application features! I guess we should take that as a compliment in disguise :-) Regards Ashutosh > Mark Wilson wrote: > Hi all >
I'd agree with what Kyle says, but there is one caveat of course: you have to select a *suitable* familiar interface. You need to ensure that the design approach you use is appropriate to the site, its sector, and the types of customers who use it (of course).

> >Don't ever get hung up on originality though - as Kyle rightly says, highly original interface schemes rarely go down well with typical site users. Design is generally an evolutionary process, making small improvements on previous generations. Massive shifts rarely work with real people. > >In my view, using a market-standard based approach highlights your differences: the less people have to think about how to use your site, the more they can focus on what makes it different. They look past the functional behavious very quickly if it is familiar, which can only be a good thing. > > >> Kyle Pero wrote: >> Hi Ashutosh,
>>I think you're wise to stick to a learned interface rather than an "innovative" one. I've found that the most usable interfaces are the least original when it comes to design. If your interface offers no familiarity then it guarantees a learning curve for each user. >>

>>Jakob's Law of the Web User Experience: Users spend most of their time on other sites. Thus, anything that is a convention and used on the majority of other sites will be burned into the users' brains and you can only deviate from it on pain of major usability problems. >>

Do Interface Standards Stifle Design Creativity?
Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, August 22, 1999

>> >>I believe that what Jakob is saying here definitely translates to the offline world. I don't mind originality, but typically in an effort to create those groundbreaking designs usability gets left behind. >>

>>I think designers have a very tough job nowadays. They feel pressure to create cutting-edge designs, but not so cutting-edge that users can't interact with them successfully. I see it all the time... Designers don't feel like they're doing their job if they don't put tons of bells and whistles in their designs. It makes them afraid to keep their designs simple. I feel for them because it’s their natural instinct to be as creative as they can be. Finding a designer that can put just the right amount of style in a design without going overboard is tough. >>

>>- Kyle >>

>> >>> Ashutosh Bijoor wrote: >>> Hi everyone >>> >>>I would like your opinions on the relationship of familiarity to usability of user interfaces. >>> >>>We are in the process of revamping the interface of our enterprise relationship management suite. We had several different "innovative" design options. However, based on initial responses from users, we find that familiarity seems to play an inordinately high role in determining usability for most users. >>> >>>Based on this observation, and given that all our target users are expected to use the software over extended periods all day, we have decided to adopt an interface that mimics the standard Windows look as closely as possible so as to provide a seamless transition between our application and the usual Office applications that users spent most of their time on. >>> >>>We have ofcourse, attempted to stick to W3C standards and used CSS and DHTML as much as possible while trying to keep compatibility with a fixed number of browser versions (IE6+ and Moz1.5+), thus keeping the interface efficient in performance over slower networks. >>> >>>Initial user reports are encouraging. But before we jump in the deep end, I am hoping to get some feedback / advice from experts on this network about potential pitfalls if any, or validation of our strategy. >>> >>>Thank you in advance >>>Regards >>>Ashutosh

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