Usability issues and principles
October 8, 2007 12:43 PM   Subscribe

30 Usability Issues to be aware of In this article we present 30 important usability issues, terms, rules and principles which are usually forgotten, ignored or misunderstood. What is the difference between readability and legibility? What exactly does 80/20 or Pareto principle mean? What is the law of proximity? What is meant with minesweeping and satisficing? And what is Progressive Enhancement and Graceful Degradation? What is banner blindness? How can you measure eye-tracking? Why fold area isn't that important. OK, it’s time to dive in.
posted by psmealey (15 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
Apparently they don't consider long columns of teeny-tiny type to be a usability issue.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:47 PM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

I quickly scanned your "satisficing" link for something that might explain how that incredibly irritating neologism came into existence, but I didn't see anything interesting or informative, so I clicked the "Back" button. are fail.
posted by dersins at 1:02 PM on October 8, 2007

That said, the main link is interesting and informative, so, thanks for this...
posted by dersins at 1:10 PM on October 8, 2007

Yeah, faved. I'd love to hear more in depth on the impact of some of these, specifically the Banner Blindness.

Why would anyone spend money to advertise on the web if this is the case? AFAIK, most revune generated by the web comes from ads. Is this a market failure or am I just not grokking something?

And the faux dialog popup mentioned in the Banner Blindness cracks me (and most other Mac users I'm sure) up. People still try that?
posted by butterstick at 1:15 PM on October 8, 2007

As any dork will point out, that really should be "30 Usability Issues of which to be aware".

Not that that makes me a dork or anything.
posted by LordSludge at 1:19 PM on October 8, 2007

Dersins: right next to the first mention of 'satisificing', there's a clickable link, wherein you go to:

"Economist Herbert Simon coined the term (a cross between satisfying and sufficing) in Models of Man: Social and Rational (Wiley, 1957)."

It's a fifty-year-old neologism. Which makes me wonder if I just hadn't heard it before, or I just didn't care....
posted by mephron at 1:28 PM on October 8, 2007

I can't get me no... satisficing.
posted by psmealey at 1:32 PM on October 8, 2007

Thorzdad: "Apparently they don't consider long columns of teeny-tiny type to be a usability issue."

In the book, Thinking With Type, there is a pull quote that says "If people weren't good at finding things in long lists, the Wall Street Journal would have gone out of business years ago," Jef Raskin, 2000.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:41 PM on October 8, 2007 [2 favorites]

It's a fifty-year-old neologism.
Must be a paleologism.
It sure sounds like an incredibly irritating neologism. It's interesting to realize they were making up such crappy words way back then. I though that stuff started in the 90's.
posted by MtDewd at 1:44 PM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty much in favor of any discipline that makes on-line content more engaging and less distracting to read, so it it takes shitty middle aged-logisms like satisficing to get us there, why not?

Also, I'm pretty sure big block type is not the answer.
posted by psmealey at 1:49 PM on October 8, 2007

Interesting article. Dreadful writing, though.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:47 PM on October 8, 2007

For math/usability geeks, the Accot-Zhai steering law is pretty cool. It was derived mathematically from Fitt's law and it accurately predicts the time required to navigate a 2d path. Somehow I have found this cool even though the math eludes me.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 2:59 PM on October 8, 2007 [2 favorites]

Anyone who ever creates anything that has even a slight chance of being used or seen by others should be required to take a course in usability.
posted by spiderskull at 8:10 PM on October 8, 2007

It's worth pointing out that developing the concept of 'satisficing' is one of the reasons Herb Simon won the Nobel Prize in Economics. A lot of economics work back then (and today still) assume a homo economicus, a person that makes perfectly rational decisions. Simon and others' work showed that instead, people often made good enough decisions within the constraints given.

Probably obvious today, though groundbreaking at the time.
posted by jasonhong at 8:43 PM on October 8, 2007

I find the ad information interesting. People learn to ignore the ads, so they become more obnoxious to get your attention. The vibrating, moving, blinking, noise-making ads make me install AdBlock, so I stop seeing them.

If the damn things weren't so irritating, I wouldn't mind seeing them. Static banner ads would not drive me nearly as nuts as the ones that look like they might cause seizures in unsuspecting visitors. Google text ads, for example, don't bother me at all.

I wish TV would take some measure of control over ads. I'm tired of the pop-over ads that show up during TV shows, blocking 1/4 or more of the screen. It doesn't make me want to watch whatever is being advertised. If it doesn't work on the web, why do people think it is any less annoying in broadcast media?
posted by caution live frogs at 2:41 PM on October 9, 2007

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