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Re: Learning a new UI

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  • Dave Churchville
    Comments inline... ... is easily and quickly recognizable... ... that you may just perpetuating existing second-rate design? Just because we all know
    Message 1 of 17 , Dec 3, 2005
      Comments inline...

      --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Tobias Mayer <tobyanon@y...>
      wrote:
      >
      > > a UI that matches the user's previous expereinces so well that it
      is easily and quickly recognizable...
      >
      > But if you base your designs on this alone, is there not a danger
      that you may just perpetuating existing second-rate design? Just
      because we all know something, and do it, doesn't mean there may not
      be a better way, wouldn't you agree?


      Yes, this is true, of course, but it's really of question of what
      problem you're trying to solve. Do you want your users to be able to
      *learn* the software quickly, or just to be able to use the software
      after a sufficient period?

      For example, it might be great to have a UI that when you drag an item
      into a folder, it creates a copy of that item. But Windows
      conventions have taught most users that dragging to a folder is a
      "Move" command. It doesn't make you wrong, and it might actually be
      the best approach, but you still shouldn't do it if you're concerned
      about learnability.

      Even worse, you have an uphill battle convincing anyone that your
      approach is "better", because people need to use multiple pieces of
      software, and so would prefer them to all work as similarly as
      possible, right or wrong. That's what makes them happy, not each
      product doing it in a "better" way.

      > Perhaps I can rephrase my question as:
      > To what extent should we "educate" users in terms of new UI
      design, and to what extent should we resort to common practice
      (regardless of its effectiveness)?
      >
      > And then, if we need to educate, should that be via a user manual
      (who reads them?) built-in, context-sensitive (e.g. popup) help, or
      some other method?

      Just make it work like they expect, no amount of help can compensate
      for violating that principle. Of course, that's easier said than done ;)

      As with all things, your mileage may vary.

      --Dave

      -----------------------------------
      Dave Churchville
      http://www.extremeplanner.com
      Agile Project Management Made Easy
    • Jon Meads
      There are a number of issues in deciding how to design a UI. Dave is correct -- sometimes it makes sense to try and stick with current user knowledge/behavior
      Message 2 of 17 , Dec 3, 2005
        There are a number of issues in deciding how to design a UI. Dave is correct
        -- sometimes it makes sense to try and stick with current user
        knowledge/behavior and sometimes it makes sense to require a change. Usually
        it comes down to a cost/benefit ratio. There are costs in making changes and
        costs in staying as is. This is one reason why usability engineers often
        look towards having usability objectives and goals specified as part of the
        project charter.

        Cheers,
        jon

        -----Original Message-----
        From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
        [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Dave Churchville
        Sent: Saturday, December 03, 2005 10:42 AM
        To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [agile-usability] Re: Learning a new UI

        Comments inline...

        --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Tobias Mayer <tobyanon@y...>
        wrote:
        >
        > > a UI that matches the user's previous expereinces so well that it
        is easily and quickly recognizable...
        >
        > But if you base your designs on this alone, is there not a danger
        that you may just perpetuating existing second-rate design? Just because we
        all know something, and do it, doesn't mean there may not be a better way,
        wouldn't you agree?


        Yes, this is true, of course, but it's really of question of what problem
        you're trying to solve. Do you want your users to be able to
        *learn* the software quickly, or just to be able to use the software after a
        sufficient period?

        For example, it might be great to have a UI that when you drag an item into
        a folder, it creates a copy of that item. But Windows conventions have
        taught most users that dragging to a folder is a "Move" command. It doesn't
        make you wrong, and it might actually be the best approach, but you still
        shouldn't do it if you're concerned about learnability.

        Even worse, you have an uphill battle convincing anyone that your approach
        is "better", because people need to use multiple pieces of software, and so
        would prefer them to all work as similarly as possible, right or wrong.
        That's what makes them happy, not each product doing it in a "better" way.

        > Perhaps I can rephrase my question as:
        > To what extent should we "educate" users in terms of new UI
        design, and to what extent should we resort to common practice (regardless
        of its effectiveness)?
        >
        > And then, if we need to educate, should that be via a user manual
        (who reads them?) built-in, context-sensitive (e.g. popup) help, or some
        other method?

        Just make it work like they expect, no amount of help can compensate for
        violating that principle. Of course, that's easier said than done ;)

        As with all things, your mileage may vary.

        --Dave

        -----------------------------------
        Dave Churchville
        http://www.extremeplanner.com
        Agile Project Management Made Easy







        Yahoo! Groups Links
      • Larry Constantine
        ... A few months ago I read a posting on this list which expressed something to the effect of (and I paraphrase as I cannot find the reference): good UI
        Message 3 of 17 , Dec 3, 2005
          Tobias wrote:

          -----
          A few months ago I read a posting on this list which expressed something to
          the effect of (and I paraphrase as I cannot find the reference): good UI
          design is not necessarily instantly intuitive. Users need to be taught a new
          UI; the trick is to teach them only once. On second and subsequent uses the
          UI should be intuitive.

          Does anyone remember that thread, or perhaps have any comment to make on
          that concept now? Much obliged.
          -----

          Don't know the thread but what it is referring to is known as instructive
          interaction. So-called single-trial learning can be exploited to make novel
          UI designs self-teaching so user mastery is effectively immediate. The
          details of the anticipatory-learning model and the techniques of instructive
          interaction were explained in a 2002 paper in User Experience, 1(3). Send me
          an email off-list and I’ll forward a .PDF copy.

          The elevator-speech condensation is that the user must recognize novel
          elements as such, actively engage in anticipating (guessing) behavior, and
          immediately try out and confirm the anticipation. The result is stable
          persistent learning without further practice.

          --Larry Constantine, IDSA

          ________________________________________
          From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
          [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Tobias Mayer
          Sent: Saturday, 03 December 2005 10:36 AM
          To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [agile-usability] Learning a new UI

          A few months ago I read a posting on this list which expressed something to
          the effect of (and I paraphrase as I cannot find the reference):  good UI
          design is not necessarily instantly intuitive. Users need to be taught a new
          UI; the trick is to teach them only once.  On second and subsequent uses the
          UI should be intuitive.
           
          Does anyone remember that thread, or perhaps have any comment to make on
          that concept now?  Much obliged.
           
          Tobias
           

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        • Randy MacDonald
          ... This, I believe, was the rationale for the Dvorak keyboard, which probably means the issues aren t that simple. ... BSc(Math) UNBF 83 Sapere Aude |
          Message 4 of 17 , Dec 4, 2005
            > But if you base your designs on this alone, is there not a danger that
            you may just
            > perpetuating existing second-rate design?  Just because
            we all know something,
            > and do it, doesn't mean there may not be a better way, wouldn't
            you agree?
             
            This, I believe, was the rationale for the Dvorak keyboard, which probably means the issues aren't that simple.
            -----------------------------------------------------------------------
            |\/| Randy A MacDonald             | you can't pay for it,
            |/\| ramacd@...            |       even if you want to.
            BSc(Math) UNBF'83 Sapere Aude      | APL: If you can say it, it's done..
            Natural Born APL'er                | Demo website: http://142.166.105.166/
            ----------------------------------------------------(INTP)----{ gnat }--
          • Jim Kauffman
            ... Several years ago I helped design a computerized version of a nation-wide academic test. We were tasked to deliberately design a UI that was unlike Windows
            Message 5 of 17 , Dec 4, 2005
              > -----Original Message-----
              > From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
              > [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Larry
              > Constantine
              > Sent: Saturday, December 03, 2005 4:00 PM
              > To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
              > Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Learning a new UI
              >
              > The elevator-speech condensation is that the user must
              > recognize novel elements as such, actively engage in
              > anticipating (guessing) behavior, and immediately try out and
              > confirm the anticipation. The result is stable persistent
              > learning without further practice.

              Several years ago I helped design a computerized version of a nation-wide
              academic test. We were tasked to deliberately design a UI that was unlike
              Windows or the Mac UI, to avoid giving an advantage to participants who were
              computer-proficient. The test began with a sample session with an integrated
              tutorial, which gave extra assistance to users who were struggling to complete
              the sample tasks. The tutorial was mastery-based, so users could not go on to
              the test itself until they had demonstrated an acceptable mastery of the UI.


              Jim K.
            • shel kimen
              ... Mac UI That s fascinating. What happened with the test? Did you ever get any post-test feedback? ./s
              Message 6 of 17 , Dec 4, 2005

                >>We were tasked to deliberately design a UI that was unlike Windows or the Mac UI

                 

                That’s fascinating. What happened with the test? Did you ever get any post-test feedback?

                 

                ./s

              • Larry Constantine
                ... were ... integrated ... complete ... to ... UI. Intriguing technique. It reminds me of an issue in testing novel designs. A team I have been working with
                Message 7 of 17 , Dec 4, 2005
                  Jim wrote:

                  > Several years ago I helped design a computerized version of a nation-wide
                  > academic test. We were tasked to deliberately design a UI that was unlike
                  > Windows or the Mac UI, to avoid giving an advantage to participants who
                  were
                  > computer-proficient. The test began with a sample session with an
                  integrated
                  > tutorial, which gave extra assistance to users who were struggling to
                  complete
                  > the sample tasks. The tutorial was mastery-based, so users could not go on
                  to
                  > the test itself until they had demonstrated an acceptable mastery of the
                  UI.

                  Intriguing technique. It reminds me of an issue in testing novel designs. A
                  team I have been working with devised some very novel and potentially highly
                  efficient new interaction techniques for a production environment. No claim
                  to intuitability is being made; the primary design driver is user efficiency
                  and reliable interaction. The only way to reasonably test such features for
                  usability is to pre-train users with the basic technique (keeping track of
                  how much it takes to gain a certain proficiency) before testing in context.

                  --Larry Constantine, IDSA
                  > -----Original Message-----
                  > From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                  [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
                  > Of Jim Kauffman
                  > Sent: Sunday, 04 December 2005 9:11 AM
                  > To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                  > Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Learning a new UI
                  >
                  > > -----Original Message-----
                  > > From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                  > > [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Larry
                  > > Constantine
                  > > Sent: Saturday, December 03, 2005 4:00 PM
                  > > To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                  > > Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Learning a new UI
                  > >
                  > > The elevator-speech condensation is that the user must
                  > > recognize novel elements as such, actively engage in
                  > > anticipating (guessing) behavior, and immediately try out and
                  > > confirm the anticipation. The result is stable persistent
                  > > learning without further practice.
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > Jim K.
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > Yahoo! Groups Links
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                • Larry Constantine
                  Randy wrote: ... may just ... something, ... This, I believe, was the rationale for the Dvorak keyboard, which probably means the issues aren t that simple.
                  Message 8 of 17 , Dec 4, 2005
                    Randy wrote:
                    =====
                    > But if you base your designs on this alone, is there not a danger that you
                    may just
                    > perpetuating existing second-rate design? Just because we all know
                    something,
                    > and do it, doesn't mean there may not be a better way, wouldn't you agree?

                    This, I believe, was the rationale for the Dvorak keyboard, which probably
                    means the issues aren't that simple.
                    =====

                    Yes, well the Dvorak keyboard story so often cited is instructive in this
                    regard. The Dvorak keyboard layout is indeed more efficient in the hands of
                    a fully-trained user, but for most accomplished QWERTY typists, the very
                    modest gain is not worth the massive hours of retraining to get back up to
                    where they were. (As a 35 wpm hunt-and-peck typist in my 30s, I decided to
                    learn touch typing. It took nearly 6 months for me to get up to the same
                    speed without peeking.) Dvorak users also report difficulty when confronted
                    with a QWERTY layout, which is far more common.

                    The lesson is that we must always look at the big-picture systems
                    implications, not just raw efficiency or instantaneous intuitability. My
                    view as a designer is that non-standard designs need to be a LOT better AND
                    easily learned to justify departing from well established convention,
                    particularly where users have invested heavily in learning the old way.

                    --Larry Constantine, IDSA
                  • Jim Kauffman
                    No, we weren t given any feedback, but the high school students who tried the UI rated it easy to learn and use . One out of ten participants had some trouble
                    Message 9 of 17 , Dec 4, 2005
                      No, we weren't given any feedback, but the high school students who tried the UI rated it "easy to learn and use". One out of ten participants had some trouble with it, but she had never used a computer or played a video game. Unfortunately, her verdict was "it's easy to use--I'm just stupid."
                       
                      Jim K.


                      From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of shel kimen
                      Sent: Sunday, December 04, 2005 9:34 AM
                      To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                      Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Learning a new UI

                      >>We were tasked to deliberately design a UI that was unlike Windows or the Mac UI

                       

                      That’s fascinating. What happened with the test? Did you ever get any post-test feedback?

                       

                    • shel kimen
                      ... Ouch. I mean, really. Makes me so sad. Anyway, thanks for the story. ./s
                      Message 10 of 17 , Dec 4, 2005

                        >>Unfortunately, her verdict was "it's easy to use--I'm just stupid."

                         

                        Ouch. I mean, really. Makes me so sad. Anyway, thanks for the story. ./s

                         

                         

                      • Jeff Patton
                        ... that you ... know ... you agree? ... probably ... in this ... hands of ... very ... back up to ... This seems similar in direction to an article in UX
                        Message 11 of 17 , Dec 7, 2005
                          --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Larry Constantine"
                          <lconstantine@f...> wrote:
                          >
                          > Randy wrote:
                          > =====
                          > > But if you base your designs on this alone, is there not a danger
                          that you
                          > may just
                          > > perpetuating existing second-rate design? Just because we all
                          know
                          > something,
                          > > and do it, doesn't mean there may not be a better way, wouldn't
                          you agree?
                          >
                          > This, I believe, was the rationale for the Dvorak keyboard, which
                          probably
                          > means the issues aren't that simple.
                          > =====
                          >
                          > Yes, well the Dvorak keyboard story so often cited is instructive
                          in this
                          > regard. The Dvorak keyboard layout is indeed more efficient in the
                          hands of
                          > a fully-trained user, but for most accomplished QWERTY typists, the
                          very
                          > modest gain is not worth the massive hours of retraining to get
                          back up to
                          > where they were.....

                          This seems similar in direction to an article in UX magazine [volume
                          4, issue 4] I just received. The article was on "how financial
                          markets value user experience" and explained a simple model for
                          change adoption. Change liklihood = f(crisis vs. perceived pain of
                          adoption).

                          It's not /exactly/ the same thing - but it seems a simple idea to
                          keep in mind when proposing any new and better way of doing anything:
                          The person using the new thing will likely evaluate the
                          cost/annoyance of learning a new thing [pain of adoption] against the
                          cost/annoyance of using something familiar [crisis]. If the current
                          crisis is high, you can expect users will be more willing to learn.
                          With the QUERTY vs. DVORAK thing, the current "crisis" just isn't
                          compelling enough to justify change.

                          Back to Tobias' original question/comment: "good UI design is not
                          necessarily instantly intuitive. Users need to be taught a new UI;
                          the trick is to teach them only once. On second and subsequent uses
                          the UI should be intuitive."

                          The one absolute truth about good UI is that there are no absolute
                          truths aboug good UI.

                          We all know that it always depends. Is the user in a position
                          they /can/ get taught/be trained? Will there /be/ a second use?
                          [especially if they're frustrated with the first] How long between
                          the first use and the second use? What's the expected frequency of
                          use?

                          I think it's true to say that good UI design does not need to be
                          inuitive - rather it needs to fit its context of use. Software used
                          frequently by users in a context where effeciency matters may not
                          need to be intuitive - at least that isn't the most important
                          factor.

                          The second part of the comment went towards memorability - how easy
                          is it to remember how to use the system after using it once or
                          twice. Again - depends on context of use. We'd hope the software
                          would support the task well enough that even if the UI wasn't
                          intutive that the effectiveness of support for the task made it
                          memorable. But, suppose it wasn't. Suppose it took lots of practice
                          and instruction to use well, to remember how to use. Say as much
                          practice as a musical instrument or 3D modeling software... that
                          wouldn't be so bad.

                          Coming full circle, it's a function of the pain the user is in
                          without the software and the pain of learning the new stuff. Any
                          statements about intuitability, learnability, or memorability need to
                          be considered in that context. Dogmatically saying all software
                          needs to be intuitable isn't necessarily user-centric.

                          Thanks,

                          -Jeff
                        • Jared M. Spool
                          Sorry I m chiming in late on this. It s been a long week and I m just catching up on messages now. ... Actually, a sucking on mother s nipple is innate , not
                          Message 12 of 17 , Dec 9, 2005
                            Sorry I'm chiming in late on this. It's been a long week and I'm just
                            catching up on messages now.

                            At 11:43 AM 12/3/2005, Jon Meads wrote:
                            >A good quote I once heard was that "The only thing that is intuitive is a
                            >mother's nipple, everything else is learned."

                            Actually, a sucking on mother's nipple is "innate", not "intuitive."

                            >When someone talks about an intuitive UI, they are talking about a UI that
                            >matches the user's previous expereinces so well that it is easily and
                            >quickly recognizable in terms of affordance and navigation. And,
                            >understanding what they would be means understanding the users very well
                            >-- which means taking the time to identify who the users are and study them.

                            I wrote an article about this. You can find it here:
                            http://www.uie.com/articles/design_intuitive/

                            Hope this helps,

                            Jared


                            Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering
                            4 Lookout Lane, Unit 4d, Middleton, MA 01949
                            978 777-9123 jspool@... http://www.uie.com
                            Blog: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks
                          • Jared M. Spool
                            ... Hee. Wrote about this too: http://www.uie.com/articles/embraceable_change/ Jared Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering 4 Lookout
                            Message 13 of 17 , Dec 9, 2005
                              At 02:41 PM 12/3/2005, Jon Meads wrote:
                              >There are costs in making changes and
                              >costs in staying as is. This is one reason why usability engineers often
                              >look towards having usability objectives and goals specified as part of the
                              >project charter.

                              Hee. Wrote about this too: http://www.uie.com/articles/embraceable_change/

                              Jared


                              Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering
                              4 Lookout Lane, Unit 4d, Middleton, MA 01949
                              978 777-9123 jspool@... http://www.uie.com
                              Blog: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks
                            • Jade Ohlhauser
                              I enjoyed that one, thanks Jared Jade Ohlhauser Product Manager RPM Software www.rpmsoftware.com 403-265-6727 x704
                              Message 14 of 17 , Dec 12, 2005
                                I enjoyed that one, thanks Jared
                                 
                                Jade Ohlhauser
                                Product Manager
                                RPM Software                                 
                                www.rpmsoftware.com 403-265-6727 x704
                                 


                                From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Jared M. Spool
                                Sent: Friday, December 09, 2005 10:21 PM
                                To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                                Cc: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                                Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Learning a new UI

                                Sorry I'm chiming in late on this. It's been a long week and I'm just
                                catching up on messages now.

                                At 11:43 AM 12/3/2005, Jon Meads wrote:
                                >A good quote I once heard was that "The only thing that is
                                intuitive is a
                                >mother's nipple, everything else is
                                learned."

                                Actually, a sucking on mother's nipple is "innate", not "intuitive."

                                >When someone talks about an intuitive UI, they are
                                talking about a UI that
                                >matches the user's previous expereinces so well
                                that it is easily and
                                >quickly recognizable in terms of affordance and
                                navigation. And,
                                >understanding what they would be means understanding
                                the users very well
                                >-- which means taking the time to identify who the
                                users are and study them.

                                I wrote an article about this. You can find it here:
                                http://www.uie.com/articles/design_intuitive/

                                Hope this helps,

                                Jared


                                Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering
                                4 Lookout Lane, Unit 4d, Middleton, MA 01949
                                978 777-9123   jspool@...  http://www.uie.com
                                Blog: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks


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