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[agile-usability] Interaction design rules of thumb - do they exist?

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  • Jon Meads
    See notes below -- jon _____ From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Tobias Mayer Sent: Monday, July 10,
    Message 1 of 42 , Jul 10, 2006
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      See notes below
          -- jon


      From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Tobias Mayer
      Sent: Monday, July 10, 2006 7:18 PM
      To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Interaction design rules of thumb - do they exist?

      Thanks Jon...
       
      > the form is asking for a number that can be up to 8 digits long.
      This implied that there were no leading non-significant characters, but only up to eight digits, so I'm not sure your first example is valid in this case.   
       
      There's a significant difference between what the form is asking for  and how the user receives and views the number. The latter is usually the critical factor when we are discussing usability. Of course, back in the old good old key punch days when users were considered just another cog in the system, they had best enter what the form asked for.
       
       
      The second example however, is interesting.  As a user I do face this problem, e.g. when entering a credit card number.  I'd like the application itself to impose spacing between groups of digits (four in this particular example) so it looks like the number on my card.  I would not want to actually type those spaces as that would just be annoying.  So I would still want to restrict data entry to digits only, and have the application deal with presenting the data back to the user in a meaningful way. 
       
      Personally I prefer to enter those spaces as that is a closer match between what i see and what I do. But what I do is not what everyone wants. Fortunately, it's trivial to design a credit card entry field that can accomodate many different preferences in this regard. Regretfully, too many programmers are concerned with what the form needs and not what makes it easier and more usable for the user.
       
       
      Of course, what I am really saying here is "it depends" :-) A solution for entering! credit USA card numbers (which are always 16 digits) will not work for entering (e.g.)international postal codes (which may be letters and/or numbers).  But still, in relation to Jeff's exact statement "the form is asking for a number that can be up to 8 digits long" I can't think of a good time that restriction to numeric input and a max of eight characters would be a bad thing.  If the statement is badly formed, perhaps, but that is another topic. 
       
      Maybe you can't think of a good reason for doing otherwise. But is it good design to restrict users to a user interface that is limited by your imagination? Whenever you limit the design to your imagination or assumptions, you risk a design that does not meet user needs. It's all a matter of risk. A little user study will often reduce the risk significantly. I can't understand why people who will gladly refactor software are so reluctant to put in a little time to understand user needs. Not meaning you, Tobias, but it seems like a standard request on this list is, "how do we avoid doing user studies and still come out with magically usable software." ;-)
       
      Tobias
       
       
       

      Jon Meads <jon.meads@...> wrote:
      Tobias,
       
      If the user has the number in a different format than that expected by the implementers (e.g., has leading zeroes or a non-significant set of lead digits or characters), it might be wise to allow more than 8 digits and only use the significant digits for the application. Also a lot of long numbers (>5 digits) are hard to input and visually verify unless they are entered as 3 or 4 digit chunks. That means allowing a separator would make it more usable. And then there are the "unknown things we don't know about".
       
      Cheers,
      jon


      From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Tobias Mayer
      Sent: Monday, July 10, 2006 5:31 PM
      To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Interaction design rules of thumb - do they exist?

      Jeff, John,
      I am not in favour of "rules of thumb" either, but in this particular case would one of you provide a concrete example of when it would NOT be a good idea to restrict the data entry to only digits (with a maximum of 8 characters).  I'm having a difficult time imagining when or how this restriction would be considered a hinderence.
      Tobias


      Jon Meads <jon.meads@...> wrote:
      Jeff,
       
      Rega! rdless of what the developers would like, the correct answer! remains, "it depends". Anyone seeking who wants to use "rules of thumb" instead of appropriate user studies will risk turning out substandard, if not unusable, designs. But if you want to check out guidelines, I recommend http://www.usability.gov/
       
      Hope all is well - give a call if you are up Seattle way.
       
      Cheers,
      jon
      !
       

                 Jon Meads, Usability Architects, Inc.
                
      Designing the User Experience
                 425-827-9296, jon@...


      < DIV class="OutlookMessageHeader" lang="en-us" dir="ltr" align="left">
      From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Jeff Patton
      Sent: Monday, July 10, 2006 3:13 PM
      To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [agile-usability] Interaction design rules of thumb - do they exist?

      Just now a coworker asked me a question on inputing numbers into a text
      box... the form is asking for a number that can be up to 8 digits
      long. He asked what seem like simple questions:
      do you restrict data entry to only digits?
      do you restrict entry to only 8 digits?

      The very unsatisfying answers I give to questions like these are "It
      depends." I'll ask "how is number entry handled elswhere in the
      application? " "Are the users doing heads-down data entry, or are they filling out the form more interactively? " "What are the numbers being
      entered? - what do they represent?" This line of questioning usually
      gets in the way of the hard and fast answers people are looking for.

      So my question for this group is: does a book/reference of boilerplate
      UI/IxD rules of thumb exist?

      Or, secondarily, is there a good place to track down usability research
      on specific topics - such as the best way to enter numbers into form
      fields?

      thanks,

      -Jeff



    • Chris Pehura
      For me, I found sequence diagrams work well. Buy it may just be my style. Chris Pehura chris@pehura.com 630-696-8101 ... From: Desilets, Alain
      Message 42 of 42 , Jul 14, 2006
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        For me, I found sequence diagrams work well. Buy it may just be my style.

        Chris Pehura
        chris@...
        630-696-8101

        -----Original Message-----
        From: "Desilets, Alain" <alain.desilets@...>
        Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2006 07:20:27
        To:<agile-usability@yahoogroups.com>
        Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Interaction design rules of thumb - do they exist?

        BTW, one of the things that doesn't work often enough is asking the users to report what they were doing. Many times I have seen users do one thing and then tell me that they did it differently. I would have doubted my sanity if I hadn't had co-observers with me. 
         
        -- Alain:
        Does this happen even in talk-aloud situations?
        ----
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