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Usability Considerations For Developing Web Applications
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  1. Usability ConsiderationsFor DevelopingWeb Applications Mihail V. Mihaylov (Mike Ramm) CEO, RammSoft www.rammsoft.com The Key To Your Success RammSoft February 20, 2008

  2. Web Site Vs. Web Application • Web application • Business use • Interactive • Design • Utility • Usability • Security • Web site • Information • Monologue • Design • Aesthetics • Navigation • Security

  3. Why Use Web Applications? • Widely accessible • Easy deployment • Easy management • Simple interaction

  4. Reasons To Avoid Web Apps • Local network • Fast interaction • Standard interface • Typing activities • Security / Control

  5. Types of Web Applications • Intranet applications • Local language applications • Internationally used • Commercial applications • Workload and security considerations

  6. What Is Usability? • System design approach • Puts the user at the center of the process • Addresses the relationship between tools and their users • A tool must allow intended users to accomplish their tasks in the best way possible

  7. Usability Factors • What does usability depend on? • How well the functionality fits user needs • How well the flow through the application fits user tasks • How well the response of the application fits user expectations

  8. A Broad Definition • A quality of a system that makes it • Easy to learn • Easy to use • Easy to remember • Error tolerant • Subjectively pleasing

  9. A Narrow (Formal) Definition • Ease of use • Measures how easy it is to use a product to perform prescribed tasks • Usefulness • Measures whether the actual uses can achieve their goals • Utility • The ability of the product to perform tasks

  10. Utility Examples • Windows calculator

  11. Utility Examples • MS Word for DOS

  12. Methods of Achievement • User-centered design • Incorporates user concerns from the beginning of the design process • Dictates that the user needs should be foremost in any design decisions • Usability testing • Testing with ordinary users • Feedback • Slogans Don’t Work

  13. Other Aspects • Likeability • People tend to like highly usable products but a well-liked product is not always usable • Usability testing primarily measures performance, not preference • You can use standardized questionnaires to measure preference across products

  14. Other Aspects (2) • Discovery • Looking for, and finding, a product’s feature • Learning • The process by which the user figures out how to use a discovered feature • Efficiency • The point at which the user has “mastered” the feature

  15. Why Is Usability Important? • For the customer • Better productivity • Low costs • Profit • For the users • Less pain • Professional improvement

  16. Why Is Usability Important? (2) • For the development company • Reduces the number of support calls from users • Reduces training costs • Increased user acceptance • Differentiates your products from those of your competitors

  17. How to Achieve it? • Early focus on users • Concentrate on understanding the users needs early in the design process • Integrated design • All aspects of the design should evolve in parallel, rather than in sequence • Early and continual testing • Iterative design

  18. Why Doesn’t it Happen? • Not an explicit project goal • PMs do not see the tradeoffs • The unseen impact on the system architecture • Confusing customers with users • Technical focus on the project • Feature-based design vs. scenario-based design • Diffusion of design authority

  19. UI Design Principles • The customer is not the user • You don’t know what your user wants • Observe user’s activities • Test early, test often, then test again • Talk one language • Use metaphors • Make difficult decisions

  20. UI Design Principles (2) • Let the user work • Prevent, don't scold • Give sufficient feedback • Don't lose the user • Don't keep them waiting • Accessibility for disabled

  21. Web UI Concepts • Explicitness • Be perfectly accurate • Use verbose phrasing • Grouping and segregation • Put related things together • Separate and distinguish them • Make everything browsable

  22. Web Application Paradox • Server-based design • The client has a lot of options to impact the design • They don’t use them

  23. Design Tips • Do not use small fonts • Do not use color or textured backgrounds • Use pop-ups carefully • Screen resolution • Accessibility for disabled • Put important things at the top and left • Test on different browsers

  24. Accessibility Tips • Have menus always available • Use a navigation bar • Have search ability on top

  25. Amazon Example

  26. Accessibility Tips(2) • Windows can be resized • Use flexible layouts • Do not make them scroll horizontally • Beware of the “Back” button • Avoid using long pages • Create page menu (summary)

  27. Wikipedia Example

  28. General Form Usability Tips • Avoid using long forms. Use wizards instead • Avoid reloading the page on every click. Load some lists at the client

  29. Registration Form Usability Tips • Don’t ask for more information than is required • Distinguish required fields from optional with an asterisk (*) • Make the email address the username • Clearly define password requirements • Ask user to confirm email and password

  30. Alibris Example

  31. Registration Form Usability Tips (2) • Avoid security questions, instead send a confirmation email with login details • Make sure your registration form is internationally usable • Don’t use unreadable captchas

  32. Captcha Examples

  33. Captcha Examples (2) • Hotmail • Yahoo!

  34. Tips for Commercial Applications • Don’t ask the user to register at first • State benefits of registration using a bulleted list • Avoid hiding important information in graphics that look like ads • Allow customers to enter billing address and credit card information at a later date

  35. Thank You! • Email: mikeramm@rammsoft.com • Official website: • http://www.rammsoft.com • Professional blogs: • http://pmstories.com • http://spriipomisli.blogspot.com