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RE: [agile-usability] Learning a new UI

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  • 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 1 of 17 , Dec 4, 2005
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      > -----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 2 of 17 , Dec 4, 2005
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        >>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 3 of 17 , Dec 4, 2005
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          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 4 of 17 , Dec 4, 2005
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            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 5 of 17 , Dec 4, 2005
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              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 6 of 17 , Dec 4, 2005
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                >>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 7 of 17 , Dec 7, 2005
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                  --- 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 8 of 17 , Dec 9, 2005
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                    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 9 of 17 , Dec 9, 2005
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                      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 10 of 17 , Dec 12, 2005
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                        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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