How to predict actual task times on a given user interface design before its built
How to assess the efficiency of your own individual design ideas as you are making them
How to provide concrete feedback on the likely efficiency of the ideas of other designers in your organization
Some background, experience and interest in designing optimized software and/or website user interfaces will make it easier to digest the material in this course.
This is an in-depth course on a particular aspect of designing for the User eXperience.
Overall user experience with software applications and websites is impacted by five key qualities of their user interface:
· Utility (is the content/functionality useful to intended users?)
· Usability (is it easy to learn and accomplish tasks?)
· Graphic Design (is the visual design aesthetically pleasing?)
· Persuasiveness (are desired actions supported and motivated?)
· Functional Integrity (does it work smoothly without bugs or crashes?)
The usability of a user interface can be further subdivided into two separate qualities:
· Ease-of-learning (is it easy to learn how to accomplish tasks?)
· Ease-of-use (can tasks be accomplished quickly and easily once learned?)
The terms ease-of-learning and ease-of-use are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. In fact, they often come into direct conflict with one another in user interface design. That is, a user interface that feels easy-to-learn to novices may soon come to feel tedious and inefficient as they gain expertise, especially if they are high frequency users. Similarly, a user interface with a steep learning curve may eventually come to feel powerful, flexible and highly efficient once a user is trained and using it frequently.
Ease-of-learning is usually more important to novice, casual or intermittent users.Ease-of-use is usually more important to trained, high frequency, expert users. However, even casual, intermittent users, such as users of public websites, will notice – and be frustrated with - designs that limit their efficiency in obvious ways.
Two overall topics are covered in this course:
· Efficiency design guidelines
· Efficiency evaluation techniques
The course is a very concrete, "how-to" course. Both the design guidelines offered and the evaluation techniques taught have been researched, validated and refined by the User eXperience discipline over the past 30 years.
The subset of 24 design guidelines for efficiency offered in this course were selected from the full body of knowledge on software and website usability to be:
· Universal (i.e., applicable to most if not all applications and websites)
· Easy to explain
· Commonly violated
· High impact (on user productivity)
· Easy to implement
They thus represent the "low-hanging fruit" in designing for software and website user efficiency. The rationale for each guideline is explained, and clear examples are offered to enhance understanding.
Just as with code, usability design guidelines will only take you so far. In addition, you need evaluation techniques to assess designs for efficiency to insure an application or website will meet its business goals at launch. Earlier design changes are always easier and cheaper than late design changes.
The three evaluation techniques taught in this course are:
· Efficiency heuristic evaluations
· Keystroke level modeling
· Efficiency studies
These different techniques can be used at different points in the design and development process to exploit opportunities to improve efficiency in the user interface design when it is most cost effective to do so. Learning the evaluation techniques also helps deepen the understanding of the design guidelines.
Who is the target audience?
This course is aimed at anyone responsible for making or evaluating user interface design decisions for software applications and websites. This includes developers who are also responsible for the user interface design of the functionality they are coding, as well as interaction designers, and user experience professionals who do not have a lot of background or experience in researching, designing and evaluating for ease of use, as opposed to ease of learning. It is also appropriate for students and interns training to be software developers, interaction designers or user experience professionals.