Usability 101 Quiz

The quarter just ended for a graduate level class I taught on Usability at the University of Denver. Here are eleven questions I wanted to be sure everyone in the class could answer and understand. See how well you can answer some questions on the core concepts of usability, with an emphasis on usability evaluation.

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Designing for Usability: 3 Key Principles

It’s not terribly complicated, yet it’s not universally applied. When designing an application, website or product, three things help generate a more usable experience: an early focus on the users and tasks, empirical measurement, and iterative design. These three key principles were articulated by John Gould and Clayton Lewis almost 30 years ago in the

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17 Periodicals for Usability Research

If you’ve ever wondered whether there’s research to help guide a design or inform product development, then you’ll likely want to look to the published literature. Despite the vast power of the internet and search engines, it’s still surprisingly difficult to know where to look to find relevant, peer-reviewed research. A simple Google search will

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Five HCI Laws for User Experience Design

Usability is hardly physics or chemistry. But there are some important principles from decades of research in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) that apply to design and user research. Here are five famous laws that can be applied to improving the user experience of applications and websites: Miller’s Law of Short Term Memory Load: The psychologist

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A Brief History of Usability

The profession of usability as we know it largely started in the 1980s. Many methods have their roots in the earlier fields of Ergonomics and Human Factors which began near the beginning of the 20th century and had a strong influence through World War II. While not exhaustive, the following is a timeline of several

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Asking the Right User Experience Questions

Few things are more revealing than watching just a few users attempt tasks on a website or software. But while you’re watching users you should ask them some key questions to help put the observations into perspective. Here are eight recommendations for helping quantify both attitudes and put the insightful observations into context. Software Usability–

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Applying the Pareto Principle to the User Experience

In 1906 Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist, observed that wealth was unequally distributed in Italy. He noted that 80% of the land and wealth was owned by 20% of the people. A similar relationship can be observed in the wealth and income across most countries. A minority of the population tends to generate the majority

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Measuring Errors in the User Experience

Errors happen and unintended actions are inevitable. They are a common occurrence in usability tests and are the result of problems in an interface and imperfect human actions. It is valuable to have some idea about what these are, how frequently they occur, and how severe their impact is. First, what is an error? Slips

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Nine Misconceptions About Statistics and Usability

There are many reasons why usability professionals don’t use statistics and I’ve heard most of them. Many of the reasons are based on misconceptions about what you can and can’t do with statistics and the advantage they provide in reducing uncertainly and clarifying our recommendations. Here are nine of the more common misconceptions. Misconception 1:

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When Credibility And Trust Matter More Than Usability

Build it and they might come. Build trust and they might stay. Make it usable and credible and they may tell their friends. The first step in building a successful website is to provide something people want or need—like a product, information or service. After that, it better be easy to use. Now you may

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