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Home » Education » Web Usability Questions FAQs

Web Usability Questions FAQs

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General user experience design knowledge

Q#. What 2 or 3 usability or user experience design books would you recommend to your colleagues?

Ans: Web Usability Handbook,Information Architecture

Q#. How do you keep your knowledge of user experience design and usability up to date?

Ans:

  1. Subscribing to HFI Newsletter, Surfing Forums and Solving Daya to Day Issues that deviates the existing guideline.
  • How do you decide when a website or application is “usable enough”?

Ans:

  1. We need to do a Heuristic Evaluation to find out initially for any design issues

Q#. Can you explain what heuristic evaluation is and what some of its strengths and weaknesses are?

Ans:

Heuristic evaluation is the most popular of the usability inspection methods. Heuristic evaluation is done as a systematic inspection of a user interface design for usability. The goal of heuristic evaluation is to find the usability problems in the design so that they can be attended to as part of an iterative design process. Heuristic evaluation involves having a small set of evaluators examine the interface and judge its compliance with recognized usability principles (the “heuristics”).

  • What are some general guidelines for making web pages accessible to users with visual, hearing, or motor disabilities?
  • What courses or workshops have you taken on usability or user interface design?
  • Can you give a few examples of cognitive principles that should influence web design?
  • What are some of the differences in designing for the web versus designing for print or a Windows or Macintosh GUI application?
  • What are some visual design principles that you would try to follow when designing web pages ?
  • How do you decide what tasks should be included in a usability test?
  • How would you do a competitive analysis of two applications or websites?
  • Describe how the user’s physical environment can have an impact on the design of a website.
  • What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of contextual inquiry/field studies when designing a web site or application?

Experience in a user experience designer role

  • What are some of the ethical issues that can come up in a usability or user experience design position? Have you experienced any of these personally? What did you do to resolve/deal with these issues?
  • What usability methods are you most experienced with?
  • Are you familiar with any information architecture methods? Which ones?
  • What usability/UI design methods would you like to know more about?
  • What usability/UI design methods are least experienced with?
  • Have you run any workshops in usability or user interface design? What topics did you cover?
  • Have you ever been involved in documenting the user requirements for a website? What methods did you use to come up with these requirements and what was your involvement in the process?
  • Describe how you have marketed user experience design in your current position. How would you market it if you were the first usability or user experience design professional in a company?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a web style guide? If you have worked on a style guide, describe your method for developing it.
  • How have you addressed issues of user interface consistency across products in your current position?
  • In your current role, how much time do you spend in evaluation versus design?
  • What can you do to make usability testing in a lab environment as realistic as possible?
  • How much experience do you have recruiting external customers for evaluation or design activities?
  • What steps have you taken to convince a reluctant developer to listen to your advice?

Q#. How would you explain the benefits of a user-centred design approach to a project manager who is unfamiliar with it?

What is usability?

“Usability is a term used to denote the ease with which people can employ a particular tool or other human-made object in order to achieve a particular goal. Usability can also refer to the methods of measuring usability and the study of the principles behind an object’s perceived efficiency or elegance.”

  •  Build products your customers will want to buy
  • Build products your users will want to USE
  • To minimize the development cost building features which users couldn’t USE
  • To design a system for the USERS
  • Designing a Usable Interface design is the single greatest asset
  • Make your user interface into a competitive differentiator

Usability is More than

  • Being ‘user-friendly’
  •  Specifying fonts
  •  Specifying colour schemes
  •  User testing
  •  HTML Design

 Methods in Usability

  • Analysis: Understand the users and their tasks
  • Design: Apply this understanding during design activities
  • Evaluate: Validate design decisions to see whether people can actually use the system.

Q#. Usability Development Lifecycle

User Centered Design Process

Q#. How to Do Documentation by Surveys?

In the same phase, survey work should be used to give usability evaluators a sense of the competitive environment. All Web sites, technical documentation and software applications are judged, not by themselves, but within the context of all other sites, manuals and software that the user has experienced. Survey work can yield insights of preferences (and reasons for preference) that define the relevant use-environment and experience set. Comparative assessments can be enhanced through multivariate statistical analysis to derive the drivers of satisfaction and the relative weights of performance-based variables.

At a minimum, survey work should provide the usability professionals with a context in which task programming should be structured and a use-environment framework for interpreting feedback.

Q#. How to Do Stake Holder Interview

Try plotting your stakeholders along what the user experiences to get a sense of how interactive products are built and maintained in an organization.

Given any email campaign, there may be a large number of stakeholders who create the content, build it into the email and landing pages, try to anticipate the tools that users will wish to interact with, provide a means to navigate there, and then measure the results. Imagine all the brand managers, content managers, designers, product managers, developers, CRM analysts, and IT professionals involved in this process or reviewing the success of a series of email campaigns over the course of a year—it really can take a lot of people to get the work done, especially in a large company.

Q#. Heuristic evaluation

Heuristic evaluation is a discount usability engineering method for quick, cheap, and easy evaluation of a user interface design.

Heuristic evaluation is the most popular of the usability inspection methods. Heuristic evaluation is done as a systematic inspection of a user interface design for usability. The goal of heuristic evaluation is to find the usability problems in the design so that they can be attended to as part of an iterative design process. Heuristic evaluation involves having a small set of evaluators examine the interface and judge its compliance with recognized usability principles (the “heuristics”).

Q#. What is Competitor Analysis?

Competitor analysis in marketing and strategic management is an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of current and potential competitors. This analysis provides both an offensive and defensive strategic context through which to identify opportunities and threats. Competitor profiling coalesces all of the relevant sources of competitor analysis into one framework in the support of efficient and effective strategy formulation, implementation, monitoring and adjustment

One common and useful technique is constructing a competitor array. The steps include:

* Define your industry – scope and nature of the industry
* Determine who your competitors are
* Determine who your customers are and what benefits they expect
* Determine what the key success factors are in your industry
* Rank the key success factors by giving each one a weighting – The sum of all the weightings must add up to one.
* Rate each competitor on each of the key success factors
* Multiply each cell in the matrix by the factor weighting.

Q#. What is Usability Competency?

  • Usability Consulting
  • Usability Testing
  • Lab
  • Remote
  • Portable
  • User Interface Engineering
  • Brand Identity
  • Rich Internet Applications
  • Graphic and Interactive solutions

Q#.Usability Methodology – ROI

  • Increased Productivity
  • For applications where usage rates are very high, saving a few seconds on a screen can mean quantum
  • Leaps in returns. Calculate how an increase in user efficiency impacts the ROI for usability.

 

# USERS X # OF USERS PER DAY X DAY PER YEAR X HOURLY SALARY X INCREASE IN EFFICIENCY = ANNUAL ROI [ANNUAL ROI X EXPECTED PROJECT LIFE] IMPROVEMENT COST = TOTAL ROI 

 

Example: Increase efficiency by 3 seconds for a given page.


Annual
ROI = 500 x 50 x 230* x ( 300,000/1840* ) x 0.0008 = 750030$


Total ROI = ( 750030 x 3) – 100,000 = 2150090$


* Work year = 230 work days / year; 8 hours workday = 1840 hours / year

 

 

Assumption1.  # of Users: 500

  1. Increase in Efficiency: 3 seconds / page (0.0008 hours)

Uses per Day: 50 times

(Page access per day)

Improvement Cost: 100,000 $

Annual Salary: 300,000$

Expected Project Life: 3 years

Q#. Usability Methodology – ROI, Various criteria’s for calculations

  • Increased Conversion Rate
  • Decreased Drop-off Rate
  • Reduced Reliance on Help Desks
  • Reduced Costs on Formal Training
  • Reduced Learning Curve

 Q#. What is User Interface Designing

  • Creative Design + traditional software development
  • UI Requirements survey
  • Conceptualize  and Visualize Designs
  • Creative Design Brief
  • Navigation map
  • Web Design Elements
  • Standards and Guidelines
  • Cross Cultural Look and feel
  • Accessibility

 Q#. What is Prototyping?

  • HTML Prototyping with CSS
  • Client Side Scripting
  • Internationalization and localization
  • Web 2.0
  • Standards and Guidelines
  • Intelligent and reliable search
  • Pagination
  • Web analytics
  • Search engine optimization
  • User accounts and dashboard
  • User comments and ratings
  • User blogs

Q#. What is RIA- Rich Internet Applications?

Rich Client Applications or Rich Interface Applications Suited for:

  • Multiple Step Processes
  •  Client-side Validation
  •  Direct Manipulation
  •  Data Visualization

Technology

  • Ajax
  • Flex
  • Flash
  • XML, XSLT, XHMLT, CSS and Javascript
  • Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF)
  • ActiveX Controls

Q#. What is Visual Design Processes?

Designed to pixel-perfect screen drawings & detailed descriptions of behaviors, controls, Visual style, and guidelines for extending the design, developers know exactly what to build. The goal is to arrange various elements on screen to maximize the user’s chance of using the site successfully.

  • Designed to what the site needs to do
  • Designed to what the site’s visitors want
  • Get a good picture of the personality & style
  • Sketch the essential features & look
  • Map your visitors’ attention
  • Arrange the visual elements to work together

Q#. Visual Design – Mood Board

Typography: Text is composed and choose  to create a readable, coherent, and visually satisfying whole that works invisibly, without the awareness of the reader

Color: These Individual colors have a variety of cultural associations and psychological human emotion and activity.

Grid: Grids designed for consistent way of handling diversity, and relationships between text and imagery

Image: Creating experiences that inspire, compel and communicate new approaches

Q#. What is HTML PROTOTYPING?

HTML Prototypes provide tangible benefits and it’s the benefits of a tactical interface that really make HTML prototype shine. |
HTML or Hi-Fidelity prototype is developed during the 6th phase, the deployment phase, in the usability development life cycle.

Q#. HTML Prototype Ensures

  • The clients, stakeholders and user’s requirements are thoroughly met.
  • Created keeping best practices and standards in mind.
  • A proper demarcation between the data and the clear style presentation layer using cascading style sheets (CSS).
  • JavaScript for quick and reliable client based validations.
  • W3C laid standards and compliance for HTML and XHTML are met.
  • Act as a guide to the developers.

Q#.  Benefits of HTML Prototype

  • Bridges communication gap
  • More Engaging
  • More Thorough
  • It’s a reality check
  • Avoid document debt

Q#. Inputs for HTML Prototype

HTML Prototypes are created based on the following inputs from interaction and visual design team

  • Wireframes
  • A base visual design
  • Style guide

Q#. CSS layouts

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) define the placement of elements on a web page. An HTML page consists of both, structure data as well as user interface presentation. With CSS a clear demarcation is created where the data is segregated from the presentation.

Q#. Benefits of using CSS

  • A Semantic Web
  • Ease of redesign
  • Faster loading
  • Degradable code
  • Reduces overall file size
  • Reduces clutter
  • Improves accessibility
  • Saves time and money

Q#. Image Optimization

Image optimization is a process where the format is decided based on the context of usage. A right balance between the picture quality and file-size is ensured.

GIF is a lossless format and should be used for simple line drawings, buttons, icons.

JPEG should be used for photographic images where millions of color variations are used.

All images should have the ‘alt and title’ attributes in html defined. This ensures that the user is able to understand the context when browsed with graphics turned off.

Q#. Benefits of Image optimization

  • Faster page loading
  • User attention
  • Improves user experience

 Q#. Contextual Study

Contextual inquiry is basically a structured field interviewing method, based on a few core principles that differentiate this method from plain, journalistic interviewing. Contextual inquiry is more a discovery process than an evaluative process; more like learning than testing.

Contextual inquiry is based on three core principles: that understanding the context in which a product is used (the work being performed) is essential for elegant design, that the user is a partner in the design process, and that the usability design process, including assessment methods like contextual inquiry and usability testing, must have a focus.

Q#. User Needs Analysis

User Needs Analysis is part of the ongoing process of developing a site that will effectively meet the needs of prospective users. It aims to identify:

  • Potential users of the site.
  • What they likely to use the site for.
  • How and if they will be able to achieve their goals.

Online surveys, focus groups and card sorting are among the techniques Web Usability employs to help you assess user needs for your site.

As well as identifying and prioritizing the site goals of visitors, User Needs Analysis will help determine the technological requirements necessary for them to achieve those goals.

Q#. Persona Creation

A persona is a fictional character representing one particular user group and is created after rigorously analyzing and categorizing data from user research.

Personas provide powerful (yet quick and simple) guidance for any website strategy and planning decisions. Personas are brought to life and made credible by including personal details (such as a name, age, background and a photo).They capture the most important information about each user group, to include:

  • Goals – What users are trying to achieve, such as tasks they want to perform
  • Behavior – Online and offline behavior patterns, helping to identify users’ goals
  • Attitudes – Relevant attitudes that predict how users will behave
  • Motivations – Why users want to achieve these goals
  • Business objectives – What you ideally want users to do in order to ensure the website is successful

Personas are based on totally different criteria to traditional market research. Market research usually focuses on user demographics, which for a website strategy isn’t at all relevant. The personas we create are the underpinning component of any website project and will:

  • Put you inside the minds of your users
  • Form the foundation of all future website strategy and planning
  • Unite all internal stakeholders so they’re focused around users’ needs

Q#. Personal Interview

The interview is a method for discovering facts and opinions held by potential users of the system being designed. It is usually done by one interviewer speaking to one informant at a time. Reports of interviews have to be carefully analysed and targeted to ensure they make their impact. Otherwise the effort is wasted.

Q#. Focus Groups Discussion

A focus group is a focused discussion where a moderator leads a group of participants through a set of questions on a particular topic. Focus groups are often used in the early stages of product planning and requirements gathering to obtain feedback about users, products, concepts, prototypes, tasks, strategies, and environments. Focus groups can also be used to obtain consensus about specific issues.

Focus group moderators generally follow a discussion plan that has the questions, prompts, tasks, and exercises for the group. The success of a focus group is heavily dependent on the skill of the moderator. The moderator must generate interest in the topic, involve all the participants, keep the discussion on track (but also allow for unexpected diversions), keep dominant personalities from overwhelming other participants, and not give away the sponsor’s beliefs or expectations.

Q#. Interaction Design

Interaction design (IxD) is the study of devices with which a user can interact, in particular computer users. The practice typically centers around “embedding information technology into the ambient social complexities of the physical world. It can also apply to other types of non-electronic products and services, and even organizations. Interaction design defines the behavior (the “interaction”) of an artifact or system in response to its users. Malcolm McCullough has written, “As a consequence of pervasive computing, interaction design is poised to become one of the main liberal arts of the twenty-first century

Q#. Task Analysis

A key issue in usability is that of understanding users, and a key part of user-centered design is that of describing the tasks that the users expect to be able to accomplish using the software you design. Because of the origins of usability as a discipline, a lot of the terminology used when discussing this issue comes from fields such as task analysis. This briefing paper defines some of these terms and explains the relationship between usability and task analysis.

Within the usability and human-computer interaction communities, the term is generally used to describe study of the way people perform tasks – that is, the way in which a task is currently performed in real-life situations. Task analysis does not describe the optimal or ideal procedure for solving a problem. It simply describes the way in which the problem is currently solved.
A simple procedural task analysis is completed as follows:

  1. Choose the appropriate procedure to complete the task that is being analyzed.
  2. Determine and write down each step in that procedure; break down each step as far as possible.
  3. Complete every step of the procedure.
  4. Check that the procedure gave the correct result.

These steps can be charted as a flowchart for a clear and easy to read visual representation.

Q#. Information Architecture

Information architecture is the term used to describe the structure of a system, i.e the way information is grouped, the navigation methods and terminology used within the system.

An effective information architecture enables people to step logically through a system confident they are getting closer to the information they require.

Most people only notice information architecture when it is poor and stops them from finding the information they require.

Information architecture is most commonly associated with websites and intranets, but it can be used in the context of any information structures or computer systems.

Q#. Detailed Site Map

One of the oldest hypertext usability principles is to offer a visual representation of the information space in order to help users understand where they can go. Site maps can provide such visualization, offering a useful supplement to the primary navigation features on a website or intranet.

A site map’s main benefit is to give users an overview of the site’s areas in a single glance. It does this by dedicating an entire page to a visualization of the information architecture (IA). If designed well, this overview can include several levels of hierarchy, and yet not be so big that users lose their grasp of the map as a whole.

We define a site map as a special page intended to act as a website guide. The site maps we studied took a variety of forms, including alphabetical site indexes, dynamic diagrams, and two-dimensional lists. The term “site map” here thus encompasses a wide array of features, appearances, and names, including “guide,” “overview,” “index,” and “directory.”

Q#. Use Case Sketches

Use Case Maps intend to convey sequences of events by showing the paths of users over a backdrop of structured system representations. With these flexible scenario-like visualizations, software engineers ensure that the element of time is considered. As part of the notation, Use Case Maps have starting and stopping points and can also branch out.

The Use Case Map notation aims to link behavior and structure in an explicit and visual way. UCM paths are first-class architectural entities that describe causal relationships between responsibilities, which are bound to underlying organizational structures of abstract components. These paths represent scenarios that intend to bridge the gap between requirements (use cases) and detailed design.

Q#. Process Flow Diagram

User interface prototypes are an excellent means of exploring your user interface, but unfortunately it is easy to quickly become bogged down in the details of the user interface and not see the bigger picture. Consequently, you often miss high-level relationships and interactions within your system’s UI. User interface-flow diagrams – also called storyboards, interface-flow diagrams, windows navigation diagrams, and context-navigation maps – enable you to model the high-level relationships between major user interface elements and thereby ask fundamental usability questions.

User interface-flow diagrams are typically used for one of two purposes. First, they are used to model the interactions that users have with your software, as defined in a single use case. For example, a  use case can refer to several screens and provides insight into how they are used. Based on this information, you can develop a user interface-flow diagram that reflects the behavioral view of the single use case. Second, as you see in  Figure they enable you to gain a high-level overview of the user interface for your application. This overview is effectively the combination of all the behavioral views derived from your use cases, the result being called the architectural view of your user interface (Constantine and Lockwood 1999). I prefer to take the high-level overview approach, also referred to as the architectural approach, because it enables me to understand the complete user interface for a system.

Because user interface-flow diagrams offer a high-level view of the interface of a system, you can quickly gain an understanding of how the system is expected to work. It puts you in a position where you can validate the overall flow of your application’s user interface. For example, does the flow make sense? I am not so sure. Why can’t I get from Seminar Details to Professor Information? When you are viewing the information for a seminar, isn’t it possible you might want to view the information for the instructor of that seminar? Furthermore, user interface-flow diagrams can be used to determine if the user interface will be usable. If there are many boxes and many connections, it may be a signal to you that your system is too large for people to learn and understand.

Unfortunately the UML does not yet support this sort of diagram.  In the past I have used a modified version of a UML collaboration/communication diagram whereas others have suggested modified UML activity diagrams or even UML state machine diagrams for this.  Our solutions all look something like what you see in Figure 1, albeit using slightly different notations.  Because the UML is not yet complete we find ourselves in exactly the situation that the UML is meant to avoid – people using different notations to model the software that they’re building.  My hope is that the Object Management Group (OMG) will eventually define a profile for UI flow modeling.

Q#. Wire Frame

A wireframe is an architectural representation of a user interface object like a screen, window, dialog box, or Web page.
Wireframes provide a sense of the general layout of controls, text, and graphics on a user interface object and often provide some description of the task flow in the object. Typically visual design and precise layout are not addressed.

Q#. Low Fidelity Test

Low-fidelity prototyping is a cheap way of providing prototypes to use in tests and participatory design sessions. “Low-fidelity” in this case means that the prototypes you use don’t have to really look like the actual interface you’re testing, as long as they “work” the same.

The idea is that you can get a lot of feedback about the interaction between the interface and the user by evaluating a low-fidelity prototype. Since low-fidelity prototypes are cheap, both in terms of money and time, you can afford to have more cycles of testing, more subjects, or more prototypes.

Q#. Accessibility Standards

1 in 5 people in the United States has some kind of disability, and an estimated 30 million people are impacted by inaccessible computer and software design. The number of people with disabilities is only increasing, as it has increased 25% in the last decade, especially among those 50 years old and above. Among the 31 million seniors aged 65 and above, 16 million reported some level of disability (Census Brief 97-5). But accessibility actually affects a much larger percentage of the population, as many people who do not have permanent disabilities have temporary conditions that can affect the way they operate for a period of time. Beyond that, the very young and the very old can also benefit from more accessible design. With this in mind, accessibility in website design should really be thought of as part of universal design.

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