22 Jan 2008

UX News Round-Up

22 Jan 2008

Neglect Advanced Search, Never More

A new article on Boxes and Arrows calls advanced search “an under-utilized tool hampered by its own design.” “Normal” people don’t use it. The “old framing” of search versus advanced search, of “geeks versus normal people”, is prohibitive and doesn’t allow users to tackle the problem of too many results. The result? Users have to search correctly the first time or start over. To give users advanced search options when they realize they need them, Boxes and Arrows suggests: ‘related item’ tagging, like Amazon, faceted search, like eBay, filtering, like Kayak, and the progressive disclosure of more advanced search functions.

Qualities of Feeling: Fluency in Interaction Design

A paper in the newest International Journal of Design explores the notion of “Fluency as an Experiential Quality in Augmented Spaces.”

Author Jonas L??wgren writes that as human computer interactions have moved from work use to “hedonistic” use, the field must consider not only the efficiency of a digital product, but also how a user will feel about the use of it. L??wgren proposes fluency as a quality of feeling.

The paper broadly defines fluency as “the degree of gracefulness with which the users deal with multiple demands for their attention or action.” Gracefulness is increased in products that “respect” the rhythms of social norms and practices, or require only peripheral attention while maintaining readability for when a user is ready to engage. Examples of this: Quiet Calls, the Marble Answering Machine, and the Stock Orb.

Out of the Lost Decade: Usability ROI Declining

Jakob Nielsen reports that Usability ROI has declined from 135% to 83% in the past six years due to reduced benefits and steady cost. Nielsen cites our movement out of the “‘lost decade’ of Web usability”, in which it was “easy for usability people to be heroes,” as direct cause for reduced benefits. Looking forwards, Nielsen titles this decade the “Conversion Decade,” where Usability ROI may be largely dependent on the rate of conversion from visitor to customer, and 2010-2020, the “Loyalty Decade.” Adapting to this evolution will require increasingly in-depth field research to fortify lab testing. Costs will go up. Thankfully, though, Nielsen writes:

Current usability ROI is so stupendously big (spend 10% to gain 83%) that it can decrease much more and still be a favorable proposition for business executives.

Montparnas’ weekly news installment posts every Tuesday at lunchtime.


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