Usability

Usability is a passion of mine here is a document I created whilst working for PXtech, it highlights the importance PXtech put on usability.

Summary


This document is intended to outline best practices for making applications. Applications should:

  • Help users to achieve their goal(s)! The users should not be made to think too hard.
  • Save users time
  • Be usable with minimal help but have accessible help if a user requires it
  • Make users confident in their abilities do not make them feel stupid or lost

High Level View


It is very easy to list what is required to enhance a user experience of software but it is a lot harder to create software that has an enhanced user experience. The key is when designing / reviewing software to start with the user not the technical. Once again a lot easier said than done when you are a technical person. The usability aims of any software should be:

  • Information should appear natural and logical; this means organization of content should be based on user tasks not on the data structure
  • Give user the control and freedom. Users should be able to explore software without fear of making mistakes/problems. Users quickly learn software if guided through it.
  • Be consistent and use difference to avoid confusion. In other words, if something is meant to be the same then be consistent but if two things mean or represent something different then they should be different.
  • Minimalist – don’t overload the user with information
  • Maximum benefit for minimum user input
  • Keep users informed
  • Focus on primary action, don’t make frequently performed tasks harder to do because of extra functionality
  • Visibility – a user shouldn’t have to hunt for information. They shouldn’t have to remember how to complete a task.
  • Design to prevent errors first, then handle errors
  • Guide and help the users

Further Reading

What to do

High level ideas are all great but what does this actually mean in practice?

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