In the past couple of weeks I have been reading an O'Reilly book called Designing Interfaces, by Jenifer Tidwell. She makes some good points about what users want in an interface, and I'd like to share a few of them here with commentary of my own.
- Instant Gratification
The idea of instant gratification is apparent in all aspects of life, and itâ€™s not stranger to the online world. Users don't want to wait around. They want things to happen right now. This relates to Luke Wroblewski's book named Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks, where he says Sign-up forms must die. Sign-up forms do not allow the user to get what they want right now. Picnik, an online photo editing software, allows the user to use their services without registering. All you have to do is click on â€œGet started now! and you're ready to go.
The term satisficing was coined by Herbert Simon in 1957 and is a combination of the words satisficing and sufficing. It suggests that people are willing to accept good enough instead of best if learning all the alternatives might cost time or effort.
Users are glancers. If I see the word search next to a field on top of a page, I'm going to immediately think that is a search box and start typing in my search query. I don't spend time thinking or reading whether it really is a search box. A site that is confusing to me is Yahoo! Answers. There is a field in the top left, but it's not a search box at all. It's a place to type in your question. Every time I visit the site I catch myself typing my search query into that box. The important thing for web design is to make elements and functions as obvious as possible. In Yahoo! Answer's case, this may be making the Ask text a button taking the user to a separate page to eliminate confusion.
- Habituation/Spatial Memory
Users are used to a particular way that websites are set up. This is apparent in everything from search boxes being in the top right corner to cancel boxes in dialogue boxes being in the bottom right corner. We become used to the patterns and spatial locations of these items. Even in Desktop programs, I find that many keystrokes apply across programs. For example, in Axure, a program we use to wireframe websites, the Ctrl-A and Ctrl-Arrow keys work just like they do in Word or in Photoshop.
These are only a few user findings in Jenifer's book. I hope to share more about user interfaces as I continue to read. We should keep these findings in mind as we develop wireframes and design websites. The user is the point of why we are creating them.