Usability Resources

As a usability and interaction design professional, I am always seeking others opinions and ideas in order to provide tools that will make life easier and more pleasant. The ideas to improve our lives come from a variety of sources. Some predictable and others a complete surprise.

I invite you to comment and make suggestions either for additions to the sections I create, or completely new sections you think should be added.

Usability Sites
Useit.com (Jakob Nielsen’s Usability site)
Usability.gov
Usability First
http://www.stcsig.org/usability/ (Usability / User Experience Association)
http://www.usabilityprofessionals.org/ (Usability Professionals Association)
http://www.upassoc.org/usability_resources/about_usability/what_is_ucd.html (Usability Professionals Association description of User Centered Design (UCD))
http://www.ixda.org/en/ (Interaction Design Association)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User-centered_design (User Centered Design description)
http://www-03.ibm.com/easy/page/570 (IBM’s implementation of UCD: many of the pioneers of this field work or have worked at IBM)
http://www.informationdesign.org/ (e-zine about various areas of design)
apple developer user experience (resources for designing for Leopard OSX)
http://www.usability.gov/templates/index.html Usability Research Templates

Design Resources

Guideline Documents
A Visual Vocabulary (used in describing information architecture and interaction design)

Usability Forms

Additional Resources

  1. 15 Essential Checks Before Launching Your Website: Use this Smashing Magazine list to double-check your site’s usability before you launch.
  2. 25-point Website Usability Checklist: A concise list of checkpoints to make sure your site is usable.
  3. Checklist for Usability Forms: This checklist is for HTML forms along with links to a few articles that are very helpful.
  4. Everyday Usability – 14-Point Checklist for Success: Kimberly Krause Berg from Cre8pc.com is convinced that a “tweak a day convinces visitors to stay.” Learn more from this short checklist.
  5. General Usability Checklist: This is a true checklist that assures users they don’t miss a trick in testing usability.
  6. How to Conduct Usability Evaluations for Accessibility: The Nielsen Norman Group offers these guidelines for testing Web sites and Intranets for users who use assistive technology. $82
  7. How to Improve Web Site Usability: This former SEO expert provides articles, checklists and a “bonanza of resources” for usability.
  8. Practical Usability Testing: This article explains how to conduct testing, what to test and how to analyze the results.
  9. Quick Usability Checklist: A short list that addresses the most common usability problems.
  10. Sensible Forms: A Form Usability Checklist: Follow these guidelines, and you’ll be off to a good start in developing usable forms.
  11. The Blog Usability Checklist: If you think your blog is usable, you might check it against this 19-point checklist first.
  12. The Essential Website Usability Checklist: This is a 13-point usability checklist designed for Webmasters from DailyBits.
  13. Top 10 Web application usability guidelines & checklist: An easy-to-follow set of guidelines and a checklist for Web site usability.
  14. Usability: 456 Berea St. offers a series of articles that list accessibility guidelines in detail.
  15. Usability Guidelines: MIT developed these guidelines, which include most factors to consider during a usability evaluation of a web site.
  16. Usability resources: A plethora of information, resources, tools and techniques to conduct usability testing and reviews.
  17. Usability Toolkit: This is a collection of forms, checklists and other useful documents for conducting usability tests and user interviews.
  18. User Testing Techniques: This page includes information on how to conduct user-based testing along with a skeletal checklist.
  19. Web Site Usability Checklist: This usability checklist highlights five important components of a usable Web site.

Definitions

Usability: “[Usability refers to] the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use.” – ISO 9241-11

More definitions of Usability and some great quotes can be found on the Usability Professionals Association Website.

User Experience: The overall experience and satisfaction a user has when using a product or system. This includes the “moments of engagement” — touchpoints — between people, products, and brands, and the ideas, emotions, and memories that these moments create. This discipline sits squarely between marketing, PMM, PM, creative, and engineering, and helps craft and refine the experience, emotion, interaction, intensity, etc. to realize the product’s benefits and satisfactions. – great definition from Brian Bureson

A User eXperience (UX) Professional can go into any situation and appropriately apply the methodologies and achieve results in usability. A UX professional has many tools; Visio, Photoshop, Flash, Illustrator, Visual Studio, AJAX, javascript, CSS, Flex, SQL, etc. When using these tools to develop products, websites or software, the UX professional relies on the principles of usability and heuristics , defined by Jakob Nielsen. Additional fields of study related to usability are human-computer interaction, cognitive psychology and interaction design.

User Interface Design: is the design of computers, appliances, machines, mobile communication devices, software applications, and websites with the focus on the user’s experience , information architectures, flow analysis, user analysis, and wireframes . This discipline is based heavily on HCI (human-computer interaction) design principles.

Human Centered Design: “Human-centered design is characterised by: the active involvement of users and a clear understanding of user and task requirements; an appropriate allocation of function between users and technology; the iteration of design solutions; multi-disciplinary design.” – ISO 13407

Usability Testing: Evaluation by users of existing applications using focus groups, lab testing, benchmarking, and usability test tools, such as Ovo Studios or Morae Software.

The University of Texas has a great tutorial on how to do a Simple Usability Test for your Website

There are alot of misconceptions about what a usability professionals job really is or how the different specialties are different. I have found that the field of user experience not only draws professionals from a wide variety of disciplines, but it also has a plethora of job titles.

Typical Job titles:
Information Architect
Interaction Designer
User Experience Designer / Engineer
User Interface Designer
Usability Engineer
Usability Professional
Interface Designer
User Experience Practitioner

Typical Fields:
Human Computer Interaction (HCI)
Human Factors
Interaction Design
User Interface Design
Usability Engineering
User Experience Design

Technology Concentrations:
Mobile / Wireless
Desktop (Windows / Mac)
Web (front-end)
Web (server)
Help / Documentation

5 thoughts on “Usability Resources

  1. While almost all Nokia hasetdns contain a font-size setting to let you zoom text only (and not images),it might be hard on some phones to play with font-sizes defined by mobile site designers.Font-size is basically a property to be used with PC websites.On mobile,users don’t have much options with Font (size,weight,family,etc.) and hence leaving such settings for default in CSS is the best thing to do.I preferably don’t define font sizes and use media queries to define font-family.I think it is the best option.

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