Improving Usability with Fitts’ Law

Posted in 2010s, Articles, Basics, Usability on February 20th, 2014 by Dan – Be the first to comment

Gross, Jason, “Improving Usability with Fitt’s Law,” (2011).

Fitts’ law is a model that can help designers make educated decisions in user interfaces and web page layouts. It can be used in conjunction with design theories such as visual weight to give user interface items proper hierarchy and placement.

Mental Models and Usability

Posted in 1990s, Articles, Basics, Cogniton, Usability on October 21st, 2012 by Dan – Be the first to comment

Davidson, Mary Jo, Dove, Laura, and Weltz, Julie, “Mental Models and Usability,” 1999

An inaccurate mental model of what is happening in a system leads to errors. Many systems place too many demands on the humans that use them. Users are often required to adjust the way they work to accommodate the computer. Sometimes the result is a minor frustration or inconvenience, such as changes not being saved to a file. Inaccurate mental models of more complex systems, such as an airplane or nuclear reactor, can lead to disastrous accidents.

Designing for Usability: Key Principles and What Designers Think

Posted in 1980s, Process, Usability on March 30th, 2011 by Dan – Be the first to comment

John D. Gould and Clayton Lewis, “Designing for Usability: Key Principles and What Designers Think” (pdf) (1985)

We recommend three principles of design.

Early Focus on Users and Tasks
First, designers must understand who the users will be. This understanding is arrived at in part by directly studying their cognitive, behavioral, anthropometric, and attitudinal characteristics, and in part by studying the nature of the work expected to be accomplished.

Empirical Measurement
Second, early in the development process, intended users should actually use simulations and prototypes to carry out real work, and their performance and reactions should be observed, recorded, and analyzed.

Iterative Design
Third, when problems are found in user testing, as they will be, they must be fixed. This means design must be iterative: There must be a cycle of design, test and measure, and redesign, repeated as often as necessary.