Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Ten Usability Heuristics

These are ten general principles for user interface design. They are called "heuristics" because they are more in the nature of rules of thumb than specific usability guidelines.

Visibility of system status
The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within reasonable time.

Match between system and the real world
The system should speak the users' language, with words, phrases and concepts familiar to the user, rather than system-oriented terms. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order.

User control and freedom
Users often choose system functions by mistake and will need a clearly marked "emergency exit" to leave the unwanted state without having to go through an extended dialogue. Support undo and redo.

Consistency and standards
Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform conventions.

Error prevention
Even better than good error messages is a careful design which prevents a problem from occurring in the first place. Either eliminate error-prone conditions or check for them and present users with a confirmation option before they commit to the action.

Recognition rather than recall
Minimize the user's memory load by making objects, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the dialogue to another. Instructions for use of the system should be visible or easily retrievable whenever appropriate.

Flexibility and efficiency of use
Accelerators -- unseen by the novice user -- may often speed up the interaction for the expert user such that the system can cater to both inexperienced and experienced users. Allow users to tailor frequent actions.

Aesthetic and minimalist design
Dialogues should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of information in a dialogue competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility.

Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors
Error messages should be expressed in plain language (no codes), precisely indicate the problem, and constructively suggest a solution.

Help and documentation
Even though it is better if the system can be used without documentation, it may be necessary to provide help and documentation. Any such information should be easy to search, focused on the user's task, list concrete steps to be carried out, and not be too large.

5 comments:

Design for MySpace said...

who are these people in the snaps . . you havnt written that . nice to see the indian blog

Design for MySpace said...

Vijay- probably you can also talk about the website aesthetics and how usability can help over there.

Rahul Mainkar said...

Hey Vijay,
Nice article and cool blog.
I appreciate your efforts on creating awareness of usability in Inida. Hence I would like your blog to be linked from my blog so that more users can know about this blog, ofcourse with your permission.
So let me know about it.

vijay said...

Hi Rahul,
Thanks for your Comment
you can link my blog from your blog.
I am preparing for the CUA exam
can u suggest your tips for preparing.

Rahul Mainkar said...

Hey Vijay I wrote a big fat article after clearing the exam. You can find it here http://rahulmainkar.blogspot.com/2007/08/i-am-now-certified-usability-analyst.html

Please read all the trainig material carefully. Some do/s and donts are:


· Exam is divided in 4 sections
· Each section will have few set of questions
· No Negative Marking
· prepare separate notes or stick yellow notes on given material for
easy reference
· Objectives type of Questions (Choose answer from 1-4)

· Can't Jump from one section to another (Sequential Navigation :)
· Can Jump from one question to another within that section
(Persistent Menu :)
· Questions will be more of scenario based and need to apply your
experience
· Can flag a question to get back to it again
· Got to attend sections in form of (1 >> 2 >> 3 >> 4)
· Once a particular section submited can't go back to previous one

· Research Section (4th) is the easiest one so, spare 20 mins for it.
· go through given Study Guide thoroughly

I hope this would be useful.