Complexity, learnability, efficiency... (WAS: Common design mista kes?)

16 Aug 2006 - 8:41am
8 years ago
1 reply
562 reads
Paul Sherman
2006

[Cindy said]:

Their designs are innovative but sometimes complex. For example, we are
debating a design that a designer came up recently: a dropdown list that
contains checkboxes, OK, Cancel, Clear, Close buttons for a simple search
function.

---
The main product my team supports uses this type of design *everywhere*.
(Sans checkboxes though...) Most people on the UCD team - including me -
were new to the product; I formed this team in January of last year. Us
newbies invariably had the same reaction the first time we saw this
overloaded drop-down:

"Yuck! What the bleep is *that* monstrosity?!?!"

It was the most non-standard thing we'd ever seen.

Fortunately, we resisted the urge to force a redesign on the organization.
When we started utesting the product with the installed base and new users,
we realized a few things:

-Yes, it was complex. But new users, after their initial confusion, quickly
got the hang of it.
-It was efficient. Installed base users had mastered the control, and relied
on it to speed up frequent operations. (To set context, users are typically
working within the product for 2-10 hours per work week.)

As hideous as it seemed at first, we had to admit that the design worked. It
made the appropriate tradeoff between learnability (a bit low) and
efficiency (way high).

Just thought I'd share.

Paul

--
Paul Sherman
Director, User-Centered Design
Sage Software

Comments

16 Aug 2006 - 11:35am
Cindy Lu
2006

I agree that we should keep our mind open for any new designs and
watch how users react.

The design we have behaves like the combination of dialog box and
dropdown - if you click the checkbox label, it behaves like a dropdown
(the dropdown menu is closed); if you check the check box, it behaves
like a dialog box(you need to click OK or Cancel).

- Cindy

> -Yes, it was complex. But new users, after their initial confusion, quickly
> got the hang of it.
> -It was efficient. Installed base users had mastered the control, and relied
> on it to speed up frequent operations. (To set context, users are typically
> working within the product for 2-10 hours per work week.)
>
> As hideous as it seemed at first, we had to admit that the design worked. It
> made the appropriate tradeoff between learnability (a bit low) and
> efficiency (way high).
>
> Just thought I'd share.
>
>
> Paul
>
>
> --
> Paul Sherman
> Director, User-Centered Design
> Sage Software
>

Syndicate content Get the feed