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Re: [agile-usability] Software feature: intuitive vs. trained response

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  • Miriam Walker
    Hi Brian, You can rely on training but surely you need to initiate actions in other places and hence need to resolve the interaction technique anyway. A couple
    Message 1 of 10 , Aug 22, 2007
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      Hi Brian,
      You can rely on training but surely you need to initiate actions in other places and hence need to resolve the interaction technique anyway.
      A couple of thoughts:
      For initiating an action I'd be expecting a button rather than a link. Are you able to tell us what the label is on the link/button you've proposed? If the text is dynamic then can you try several buttons and enable/disable them based on state? If there would be hundreds of buttons could you use some other method (checkbox, radio button) of selecting the things for action then use a button to initiate the action?
      Since buttons and links are both very well understood interaction techniques I wonder if the problem is broader than just how the interaction is initiated. I'm getting into very dangerous territory trying to interpret without seeing the application or the usability testing but I'd be looking at the whole design of the page. Perhaps print a copy and ask "tell me what I can do on this page" so you can see whether the page even conveys that action is possible. Or is the complexity of the process such that they don't understand the action (rather than not knowing how to initiate it).
      My apologies if I've made bad assumptions or suggested things you've tried.

      Warm regards,
      Miriam

      On 8/23/07, Brian Weiss < briandweiss@...> wrote:

      Hello all,
      I'm stuck on a feature for an internal application. Repeated testing has shown that the feature, a text link, is not an intuitive way for users to initiate the action. However other alternatives such as buttons have major interface drawbacks ( i.e. there could be hundreds of buttons in several columns all over the screen.) Initially, I chose text links because the information in the link is dynamic and can change based on other interactions and I thought the link (which is the traditional blue underlined link) would be easily understood as clickable - which again is apparently not true based on several tests with users. And the app is being build in Flex so I am technology constrained on solutions.
       
      Last, the app will not be for general consumption - users will get training before using it.
       
      The question then is, at what point is it ok to rely on training to work around something that's clearly not intuitive? Has any one else run into this before?
       
      Any input or ideas would be helpful.
      -Brian Weiss


      Boardwalk for $500? In 2007? Ha!
      Play Monopoly Here and Now (it's updated for today's economy) at Yahoo! Games.


    • Brian Weiss
      The link labels are prices for inventory and could be manipulated by other actions on the screen. There could also be two prices for one item and each needs to
      Message 2 of 10 , Aug 22, 2007
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        The link labels are prices for inventory and could be manipulated by other actions on the screen. There could also be two prices for one item and each needs to be displayed.
         
        The action is to add the inventory to a list of items to be purchased (like a shopping cart). Since the proposed tool is for phone sales people, this is one of the user's main function - it's very common.
         
        Normally (and initially) I would have recommended the action to be done by a button, but that was a visual disaster given screen constraints.
         
        Eventually, the sales people would *have to "get it" in order to make a sale, which is where my training vs. intuitive question comes from
         
        -Brian


        Elizabeth Whitworth <elizabethwhitworth@...> wrote:
        Hi Brian,
        What is the action, and what does the text link say?
        Is the action common or not very common in user tasks?
         - liz

        On 8/22/07, Brian Weiss <briandweiss@...> wrote:
        Hello all,
        I'm stuck on a feature for an internal application. Repeated testing has shown that the feature, a text link, is not an intuitive way for users to initiate the action. However other alternatives such as buttons have major interface drawbacks ( i.e. there could be hundreds of buttons in several columns all over the screen.) Initially, I chose text links because the information in the link is dynamic and can change based on other interactions and I thought the link (which is the traditional blue underlined link) would be easily understood as clickable - which again is apparently not true based on several tests with users. And the app is being build in Flex so I am technology constrained on solutions.
         
        Last, the app will not be for general consumption - users will get training before using it.
         
        The question then is, at what point is it ok to rely on training to work around something that's clearly not intuitive? Has any one else run into this before?
         
        Any input or ideas would be helpful.
        -Brian Weiss

        Boardwalk for $500? In 2007? Ha!
        Play Monopoly Here and Now (it's updated for today's economy) at Yahoo! Games.



        Be a better Globetrotter. Get better travel answers from someone who knows.
        Yahoo! Answers - Check it out.

      • Dave Churchville
        Would a little (+) icon next to the label work here (in addition to the link). That might make it more obvious that you could do something withut taking up a
        Message 3 of 10 , Aug 22, 2007
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          Would a little (+) icon next to the label work here (in addition to
          the link). That might make it more obvious that you could do
          something withut taking up a ton of space.

          Otherwise, I'd say that internal apps that will have training don't
          need to be as obvious - or put differently, even a completely
          unintuitive function will become second nature after a few weeks of
          use by "captive" users.

          Good luck,

          --Dave


          --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Brian Weiss <briandweiss@...>
          wrote:
          >
          > The link labels are prices for inventory and could be manipulated by
          other actions on the screen. There could also be two prices for one
          item and each needs to be displayed.
          >
          > The action is to add the inventory to a list of items to be
          purchased (like a shopping cart). Since the proposed tool is for phone
          sales people, this is one of the user's main function - it's very common.
          >
          > Normally (and initially) I would have recommended the action to be
          done by a button, but that was a visual disaster given screen constraints.
          >
          > Eventually, the sales people would *have to "get it" in order to
          make a sale, which is where my training vs. intuitive question comes from
          >
          > -Brian
          >
          >
          > Elizabeth Whitworth <elizabethwhitworth@...> wrote:
          > Hi Brian,
          > What is the action, and what does the text link say?
          > Is the action common or not very common in user tasks?
          > - liz
          >
          > On 8/22/07, Brian Weiss <briandweiss@...> wrote:
          > Hello all,
          > I'm stuck on a feature for an internal application. Repeated
          testing has shown that the feature, a text link, is not an intuitive
          way for users to initiate the action. However other alternatives such
          as buttons have major interface drawbacks ( i.e. there could be
          hundreds of buttons in several columns all over the screen.)
          Initially, I chose text links because the information in the link is
          dynamic and can change based on other interactions and I thought the
          link (which is the traditional blue underlined link) would be easily
          understood as clickable - which again is apparently not true based on
          several tests with users. And the app is being build in Flex so I am
          technology constrained on solutions.
          >
          > Last, the app will not be for general consumption - users will get
          training before using it.
          >
          > The question then is, at what point is it ok to rely on training
          to work around something that's clearly not intuitive? Has any one
          else run into this before?
          >
          > Any input or ideas would be helpful.
          > -Brian Weiss
          >
          >
          > ---------------------------------
          > Boardwalk for $500? In 2007? Ha!
          > Play Monopoly Here and Now (it's updated for today's economy) at
          Yahoo! Games.
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > ---------------------------------
          > Be a better Globetrotter. Get better travel answers from someone who
          knows.
          > Yahoo! Answers - Check it out.
          >
        • White, Jeff
          Sounds like this is a crucial system feature. If it were me I d make sure your users were getting this on their own w/o the need for training. If it were lower
          Message 4 of 10 , Aug 22, 2007
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            Sounds like this is a crucial system feature. If it were me I’d make sure your users were getting this on their own w/o the need for training. If it were lower on the totem pole, I think it would be fine to rely on training.

             

            Maybe instead of the text link or button trade off, you consider other ways of bringing this feature into a more visible & “intuitive” (I hate when people say that, sorry) presentation.

             

            Hard to say w/o seeing the app and not knowing all the context of course, but perhaps different placement on the screen, more white space around the link location, etc. I would be thinking about Gestalt here and seeing if I could use any of those basic design principles to bring this feature into a better spot.

             

            Jeff

             

             

            >>  

            The link labels are prices for inventory and could be manipulated by other actions on the screen. There could also be two prices for one item and each needs to be displayed.

             

            The action is to add the inventory to a list of items to be purchased (like a shopping cart). Since the proposed tool is for phone sales people, this is one of the user's main function - it's very common.

             

            Normally (and initially) I would have recommended the action to be done by a button, but that was a visual disaster given screen constraints.

             

            Eventually, the sales people would *have to "get it" in order to make a sale, which is where my training vs. intuitive question comes from

             

            -Brian



            Elizabeth Whitworth <elizabethwhitworth@ gmail.com> wrote:

            Hi Brian,
            What is the action, and what does the text link say?
            Is the action common or not very common in user tasks?
             - liz

            On 8/22/07, Brian Weiss <briandweiss@ yahoo.com> wrote:

            Hello all,

            I'm stuck on a feature for an internal application. Repeated testing has shown that the feature, a text link, is not an intuitive way for users to initiate the action. However other alternatives such as buttons have major interface drawbacks ( i.e. there could be hundreds of buttons in several columns all over the screen.) Initially, I chose text links because the information in the link is dynamic and can change based on other interactions and I thought the link (which is the traditional blue underlined link) would be easily understood as clickable - which again is apparently not true based on several tests with users. And the app is being build in Flex so I am technology constrained on solutions.

             

            Last, the app will not be for general consumption - users will get training before using it.

             

            The question then is, at what point is it ok to rely on training to work around something that's clearly not intuitive? Has any one else run into this before?

             

            Any input or ideas would be helpful.

            -Brian Weiss


            Boardwalk for $500? In 2007? Ha!
            Play Monopoly Here and Now (it's updated for today's economy) at Yahoo! Games.

             

            >>  

             


            Be a better Globetrotter. Get better travel answers from someone who knows.
            Yahoo! Answers - Check it out.

          • Elizabeth Whitworth
            It s hard to say without seeing the interface, but her are some suggestions: - use tooltips. when the user scrolls over the link, they see a tool tip that says
            Message 5 of 10 , Aug 22, 2007
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              It's hard to say without seeing the interface, but her are some suggestions:
               - use tooltips. when the user scrolls over the link, they see a tool tip that says "add item to inventory."
               - change the colour of the cell the text is in on scrollover so that it acts more like a button.
               - add some small text at the top of the table: "Click prices to add to inventory"
               - design nicer buttons (e.g. the regular grey interface button with bevel shading can be a bit overwhelming/ugly, but a simple gray outline with plain white inside, for example, can look quite nice (depending on the background).
               - write the action in the text link, e.g. "add $345"...("+$3456" doesn't look right to me for some reason, since it looks like a positive sign, but perhaps you could change the style of the + to make it look better within your table).
               - I'd also agree with Dave that users who use this function daily will quickly learn what to do. You could usability test for learnablity by seeing how well users deal with the function the 2nd, 3rd, etc time they have to do a task, or test for how well they remember how the function works in a second session after learning to use it in the first. I would say learnability/rememberability, as well as usability (is the function easy to use in the context of the users task) is more important in this case than the action being "intuitive."

              regards,
               - liz





              On 8/22/07, Brian Weiss <briandweiss@...> wrote:

              The link labels are prices for inventory and could be manipulated by other actions on the screen. There could also be two prices for one item and each needs to be displayed.
               
              The action is to add the inventory to a list of items to be purchased (like a shopping cart). Since the proposed tool is for phone sales people, this is one of the user's main function - it's very common.
               
              Normally (and initially) I would have recommended the action to be done by a button, but that was a visual disaster given screen constraints.
               
              Eventually, the sales people would *have to "get it" in order to make a sale, which is where my training vs. intuitive question comes from
               
              -Brian


              Elizabeth Whitworth <elizabethwhitworth@gmail.com > wrote:
              Hi Brian,
              What is the action, and what does the text link say?
              Is the action common or not very common in user tasks?
               - liz

              On 8/22/07, Brian Weiss <briandweiss@... > wrote:
              Hello all,
              I'm stuck on a feature for an internal application. Repeated testing has shown that the feature, a text link, is not an intuitive way for users to initiate the action. However other alternatives such as buttons have major interface drawbacks ( i.e. there could be hundreds of buttons in several columns all over the screen.) Initially, I chose text links because the information in the link is dynamic and can change based on other interactions and I thought the link (which is the traditional blue underlined link) would be easily understood as clickable - which again is apparently not true based on several tests with users. And the app is being build in Flex so I am technology constrained on solutions.
               
              Last, the app will not be for general consumption - users will get training before using it.
               
              The question then is, at what point is it ok to rely on training to work around something that's clearly not intuitive? Has any one else run into this before?
               
              Any input or ideas would be helpful.
              -Brian Weiss

              Boardwalk for $500? In 2007? Ha!
              Play Monopoly Here and Now (it's updated for today's economy) at Yahoo! Games.



              Be a better Globetrotter. Get better travel answers from someone who knows.
              Yahoo! Answers - Check it out.


            • Brian Weiss
              Those are great ideas. Flex is very good with the tool tips. Tommorrow I m going to approach the people who took part in the usability evaluation. If they
              Message 6 of 10 , Aug 22, 2007
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                Those are great ideas. Flex is very good with the tool tips.
                 
                Tommorrow I'm going to approach the people who took part in the usability evaluation. If they remember how to do the action after a few days away from it, I'd be inclinded to call it "learnable".
                 
                In response to Miriam (and others): I know it's hard to comment on something unseen. I'd post a screen shot if it wasn't propretary. :(  The idea of the checkbox with a commit is good but I was striving for as few clicks as possible as well as maximizing real estate. (The sales people only have 15 inch monitors and the amount of info displayed is great). Also, the people in the study came with MAJOR baggage ala the legacy sales tools. I liken the difference in technologies to Windows 3.1 vs Windows XP (seriously) so some of it might be that. But that's a good idea on printing out versions with different labels and presentations and getting paper prototype reactions.
                 
                And to Jeff, no offense taken, I hate the use of the word "paradigm" in most uses. :)
                 
                -B

                Elizabeth Whitworth <elizabethwhitworth@...> wrote:
                It's hard to say without seeing the interface, but her are some suggestions:
                 - use tooltips. when the user scrolls over the link, they see a tool tip that says "add item to inventory."
                 - change the colour of the cell the text is in on scrollover so that it acts more like a button.
                 - add some small text at the top of the table: "Click prices to add to inventory"
                 - design nicer buttons (e.g. the regular grey interface button with bevel shading can be a bit overwhelming/ ugly, but a simple gray outline with plain white inside, for example, can look quite nice (depending on the background).
                 - write the action in the text link, e.g. "add $345"...("+$3456" doesn't look right to me for some reason, since it looks like a positive sign, but perhaps you could change the style of the + to make it look better within your table).
                 - I'd also agree with Dave that users who use this function daily will quickly learn what to do. You could usability test for learnablity by seeing how well users deal with the function the 2nd, 3rd, etc time they have to do a task, or test for how well they remember how the function works in a second session after learning to use it in the first. I would say learnability/ rememberability, as well as usability (is the function easy to use in the context of the users task) is more important in this case than the action being "intuitive."

                regards,
                 - liz





                On 8/22/07, Brian Weiss <briandweiss@ yahoo.com> wrote:
                The link labels are prices for inventory and could be manipulated by other actions on the screen. There could also be two prices for one item and each needs to be displayed.
                 
                The action is to add the inventory to a list of items to be purchased (like a shopping cart). Since the proposed tool is for phone sales people, this is one of the user's main function - it's very common.
                 
                Normally (and initially) I would have recommended the action to be done by a button, but that was a visual disaster given screen constraints.
                 
                Eventually, the sales people would *have to "get it" in order to make a sale, which is where my training vs. intuitive question comes from
                 
                -Brian


                Elizabeth Whitworth <elizabethwhitworth@gmail.com > wrote:
                Hi Brian,
                What is the action, and what does the text link say?
                Is the action common or not very common in user tasks?
                 - liz

                On 8/22/07, Brian Weiss <briandweiss@ yahoo.com > wrote:
                Hello all,
                I'm stuck on a feature for an internal application. Repeated testing has shown that the feature, a text link, is not an intuitive way for users to initiate the action. However other alternatives such as buttons have major interface drawbacks ( i.e. there could be hundreds of buttons in several columns all over the screen.) Initially, I chose text links because the information in the link is dynamic and can change based on other interactions and I thought the link (which is the traditional blue underlined link) would be easily understood as clickable - which again is apparently not true based on several tests with users. And the app is being build in Flex so I am technology constrained on solutions.
                 
                Last, the app will not be for general consumption - users will get training before using it.
                 
                The question then is, at what point is it ok to rely on training to work around something that's clearly not intuitive? Has any one else run into this before?
                 
                Any input or ideas would be helpful.
                -Brian Weiss

                Boardwalk for $500? In 2007? Ha!
                Play Monopoly Here and Now (it's updated for today's economy) at Yahoo! Games.



                Be a better Globetrotter. Get better travel answers from someone who knows.
                Yahoo! Answers - Check it out.



                Park yourself in front of a world of choices in alternative vehicles.
                Visit the Yahoo! Auto Green Center.

              • Frédéric Monjo
                Hi, As it was said before, I think the first thing to consider is wether this user task is a top importance one or not. On the other hand, a so simple action
                Message 7 of 10 , Aug 22, 2007
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                  Hi,
                   
                  As it was said before, I think the first thing to consider is wether this user task is a top importance one or not. On the other hand, a so simple action is not so hard to learn and remember, but be careful not to have lots of small things to learn for the user.
                   
                  What about a LinkButton in Flex ? (Highlights on rollover)
                  Extending the idea of the "+" button, you may put a small arrow pointing to the "cart" location, or a similar meaningful icon. Use
                  You may also use drag&drop (generally not so usable), or mouse gestures (hard to implement).
                   
                  There is no best interaction for every similar cases, it always depends on the specific context of use, users' background, general design, task flow, etc. Maybe you may first ask your users for which interactions seems the more "intuitive" for them, and make a list of "user-compatible" interactions/representations as a design guideline for future conceptions.
                   
                  Hope that helps :)
                   
                  Fred.
                  Beginning agile usability engineer

                   
                  2007/8/22, Elizabeth Whitworth <elizabethwhitworth@...>:

                  It's hard to say without seeing the interface, but her are some suggestions:
                   - use tooltips. when the user scrolls over the link, they see a tool tip that says "add item to inventory."
                   - change the colour of the cell the text is in on scrollover so that it acts more like a button.
                   - add some small text at the top of the table: "Click prices to add to inventory"
                   - design nicer buttons (e.g. the regular grey interface button with bevel shading can be a bit overwhelming/ugly, but a simple gray outline with plain white inside, for example, can look quite nice (depending on the background).
                   - write the action in the text link, e.g. "add $345"...("+$3456" doesn't look right to me for some reason, since it looks like a positive sign, but perhaps you could change the style of the + to make it look better within your table).
                   - I'd also agree with Dave that users who use this function daily will quickly learn what to do. You could usability test for learnablity by seeing how well users deal with the function the 2nd, 3rd, etc time they have to do a task, or test for how well they remember how the function works in a second session after learning to use it in the first. I would say learnability/rememberability, as well as usability (is the function easy to use in the context of the users task) is more important in this case than the action being "intuitive."

                  regards,


                   - liz





                  On 8/22/07, Brian Weiss <briandweiss@... > wrote:

                  The link labels are prices for inventory and could be manipulated by other actions on the screen. There could also be two prices for one item and each needs to be displayed.
                   
                  The action is to add the inventory to a list of items to be purchased (like a shopping cart). Since the proposed tool is for phone sales people, this is one of the user's main function - it's very common.
                   
                  Normally (and initially) I would have recommended the action to be done by a button, but that was a visual disaster given screen constraints.
                   
                  Eventually, the sales people would *have to "get it" in order to make a sale, which is where my training vs. intuitive question comes from
                   
                  -Brian


                  Elizabeth Whitworth <elizabethwhitworth@gmail.com > wrote:
                  Hi Brian,
                  What is the action, and what does the text link say?
                  Is the action common or not very common in user tasks?
                   - liz

                  On 8/22/07, Brian Weiss <briandweiss@... > wrote:
                  Hello all,
                  I'm stuck on a feature for an internal application. Repeated testing has shown that the feature, a text link, is not an intuitive way for users to initiate the action. However other alternatives such as buttons have major interface drawbacks ( i.e. there could be hundreds of buttons in several columns all over the screen.) Initially, I chose text links because the information in the link is dynamic and can change based on other interactions and I thought the link (which is the traditional blue underlined link) would be easily understood as clickable - which again is apparently not true based on several tests with users. And the app is being build in Flex so I am technology constrained on solutions.
                   
                  Last, the app will not be for general consumption - users will get training before using it.
                   
                  The question then is, at what point is it ok to rely on training to work around something that's clearly not intuitive? Has any one else run into this before?
                   
                  Any input or ideas would be helpful.
                  -Brian Weiss

                  Boardwalk for $500? In 2007? Ha!
                  Play Monopoly Here and Now (it's updated for today's economy) at Yahoo! Games.



                  Be a better Globetrotter. Get better travel answers from someone who knows.
                  Yahoo! Answers - Check it out.



                • eric.idebro
                  How about a contextual help text, placed close to the text link, that the users can read once or twice or as many times they need to. When they remember what
                  Message 8 of 10 , Aug 22, 2007
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                    How about a contextual help text, placed close to the text link, that
                    the users can read once or twice or as many times they need to. When
                    they remember what the text link is for, they can hide the contextual
                    help so that it does not take up cognitive resources as soon as the
                    users know what to do with the text link?


                    /Eric

                    --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Brian Weiss <briandweiss@...>
                    wrote:
                    >
                    > Hello all,
                    > I'm stuck on a feature for an internal application. Repeated
                    testing has shown that the feature, a text link, is not an intuitive
                    way for users to initiate the action. However other alternatives such
                    as buttons have major interface drawbacks (i.e. there could be
                    hundreds of buttons in several columns all over the screen.)
                    Initially, I chose text links because the information in the link is
                    dynamic and can change based on other interactions and I thought the
                    link (which is the traditional blue underlined link) would be easily
                    understood as clickable - which again is apparently not true based on
                    several tests with users. And the app is being build in Flex so I am
                    technology constrained on solutions.
                    >
                    > Last, the app will not be for general consumption - users will
                    get training before using it.
                    >
                    > The question then is, at what point is it ok to rely on training
                    to work around something that's clearly not intuitive? Has any one
                    else run into this before?
                    >
                    > Any input or ideas would be helpful.
                    > -Brian Weiss
                    >
                    >
                    > ---------------------------------
                    > Boardwalk for $500? In 2007? Ha!
                    > Play Monopoly Here and Now (it's updated for today's economy) at
                    Yahoo! Games.
                    >
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