User centred design (UCD)
User centred design (UCD) is a project approach that puts the intended users (audience) of a product or piece of technology at the centre of its research, design and development. It does this by talking directly to the user at key points in the project to make sure the product or piece of technology will deliver upon their perceived requirements and align the client with their users or consumers.
Supporting general interactive behaviours
New systems must comply with but not limited to the following provisions;
Provide context and orientation information
Provide context and orientation information to help users understand;
- Where they are
- What it’s for
- How to use
the complex pages or elements that they are viewing.
Provide location indication that consistent across all interfaces, which is not part of navigation. This is to help users know explicitly where they are and what data is shown so that they can be confident about their activities.
Grouping elements and providing contextual information about the relationships between elements can be useful for all users. Complex relationships between parts of a page may be difficult for people with any type of cognitive disability and people with visual disabilities to interpret. Regardless of the working environment no two people think exactly the same way this divergence is based upon the various inputs and experience they have. Recognising variance and synergy in knowledge is a key finding from pilot studies that support the creation of personas and user scenarios.
Provide clear navigation mechanisms
Provide clear and consistent navigation mechanisms;
- Orientation information
- Navigation schema
- Sub navigation
- In app/widget controls
- Site map
- Comparable experiences (to their other business or outside work experiences)
Interactive behaviours to increase the likelihood that a person will find what they are looking for and be able to interact with it.
Clear and consistent navigation mechanisms are important to people with cognitive disabilities or blindness, but fundamentally benefit all users and enable rapid adoption, reuse and buy-in.
Provide explicit interactive behaviours
Users require an absolute learning environment in order to quickly review and adopt new technologies.
The interactive behaviours of any system they use should make logical and emotional sense.
Interactive logic is driven by expectation, in that if a user clicks on text that is underlined they expect to go to another page related to that text (a hyperlink) therefore if text is blue and underlined but does not take the user to a new page, a user will doubt the technology and themselves as it creates insecurities. Other considerations related to interactive logic are about an expectation of delivery in that if a user clicks on a chart they expect to see the data behind it.
Interactive emotion was touched on in the previous point and is related to confusion, insecurities, doubt and conflicting emotions driven by unexpected interactions. Users when arriving at the wrong location in software expect the back button (if web service) to take them to the previous screen. In software they expect a link or return to last page. If the developer had locked pages or not considered a user wanting to go backwards or sideways in a planned pathway, the user will feel trapped, this is an interactive emotion. The users invested (time, knowledge) activity (purpose, task) has been trapped (voided, considered worthless) in a process and their perception is that they are unimportant.
The more users’ expectations prove right, the more users will feel in control of the system and the more they will like it. And the more the system breaks users’ expectations, the more they will feel insecure.
Ensure that text is clear and simple
Ensure that text is clear and simple so they may be more easily understood. Consistent title location, page layout, recognisable icons and easy to understand language benefit all users. However where users require subject specific language based upon their activities a glossary is advised to support the constant churn in user involvement.
Opening New Windows
Opening up new window is like a polluting a user screen it creates a loss of focus and no matter how great a mind a user has they will still lose their place when checking where they are in a process or task across multiple partially visible or hidden screens.
Designers open new windows on the theory that it keeps users focused on their system or it delineates separate activity. This creates a user hostile message and is self defeating since it breaks any trust in the delivery of technology that make users life better.
Non-Standard use of GUI Widgets
Consistency is one of the most powerful best practice principles. When things always behave the same, users don’t have to worry about what will happen. Instead, they know what will happen base upon their earlier experience.
The worst consistency violations in technology are found in the use of GUI widgets such as radio buttons and checkboxes. The appropriate behaviour of these design elements is defined in the Windows Vista User Experience standard, the Macintosh human interface standard, and the Java UI standard. Which of these standards to follow depends on the platform used by the majority of your users, but it hardly matters for the most basic widgets since all the standards have close-to-identical rules.
Slow Server Response Times
Slow response times are the worst offender against user expectations.
Users don’t care why response times are slow. All they know is that the technology doesn’t offer good service. Slow response times often translate directly into a reduced level of trust and they always cause a loss of use and adoption as users find a work around.
Use of colour
Ensure that text and graphics are understandable when viewed without colour. If colour alone is used to convey information, people who cannot differentiate between certain colours and users with devices that have non-colour or non-visual displays will not receive the information.
When foreground and background colours are too close to the same hue, they may not provide sufficient contrast when viewed using monochrome displays or by people with different types of colour deficits.
Ensure user control of time sensitive content changes
Ensure that content that changes does so in a manner that is obvious or had a secondary advisory so that users are made aware of that change.
Design for device independence
Use features that enable activation of page elements via a variety of input devices.