Intra-product-type consistency, the Recognition and intuitiveness present within a product, is a key component in determining the overall Usability of a product. For an air travel website to be usable, it should have some basic, recognizable, consistency with other airline products. For example, on the top-left region of most every air travel website you will find a form to enter starting and destination locations, departure and return dates, as well as the number of passengers traveling on the given trip.
Quick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX). In answering the question of Usability, "Can I use it?" the sub-category of Recognition is one of frequent discussion, especially in the latest wave of online products and how they handle content presentation and interaction.
Today, we will look at 2 examples of Internet products with Fair Recognition, representing a Recognition value of 0.5.
Example 1: Fair Recognition (value = 0.5)
Starting on the homepage, a feature commonly expected and observed on almost every event planning website, is the ‘create event’ button (or ability), and this is noticeably absent on this website.
myPunchbowl is a sound online event planner achieving Fair Recognition, a Recognition value of 0.5. The product presents minor changes in how it approaches the event creation process, from modified grouping of information to the sequence of steps that must be traversed.
The beginning of the event creation process provides no guidance as to what the subsequent steps will require or where / when the user will be prompted for the basic event information (the "when" and the "where").
In this first stage, when the user is just trying to orient him/herself, and accomplish the common task of defining an event, they are presented with four choices of how one may like to proceed, instead of just being taken to the next logical, expected, stage of the event process.
It isn’t until the user gets to the ‘Your Design’ stage that they are presented with a very recognizable interface for guiding them through the remainder of the event creation process.
There are basic elements that a user expects when creating an online event, from understanding the sequence of events to knowing how to enter the minimal information to get the event set up and completed. myPunchbowl forces the user to jump through the hoops of ‘event type’ and ‘initiation design’ before having the opportunity to enter information into the most expected features of online event planning, Title, Date, Time, Address, etc.
Altogether, it will not take the typical myPunchbowl user, or for that matter, an online event planner user, too long to orient themselves (through some poking, clicking, interacting), adapt and learn how to use the fairly Recognizable myPunchbowl event creation process.
Example 2: Fair Recognition (value = 0.5)
Sometimes the things that set you apart, those things that contribute to providing a unique experience can also lead to some unexpected results for the average user.
The typical travel website presents the user with a request for the basic information on the homepage, for example, start and end date, origin, destination, and number of passengers. Here too is where the Vayama, a travel website, begins the travel planning process.
After defining the basic parameters for a trip, a search is typically initiated. It is at this stage that Vayama‘s unique approach to simplifying the process results in a less Recognizable experience. On the generic travel website, the user, upon initiating the search, is brought to a specific webpage for browsing, and filtering the results.
Many websites also allow for the modification of the search parameters from the search page, while others require the user to return to the location from whence the search was initiated.
Vayama has combined all of these commonly separate pages into a single user interface that adapts as the user interacts with it. It isn’t until the user has to specify the travelers, select the seats, and pay for the tickets, that they even have to leave the homepage of the site.
The combining of commonly separate steps presents its own set of Recognition challenges for the product’s users.
The initial search form alongside the search results makes one think that they can change anything on the page and alter the results. However, this is not the case. Search results pages typically present all of the controls that will filter and impact those results. The unique presentation and process at Vayama, result in different behaviors and set of expectations, requiring some finesse, poking, and interaction to adjust to this paradigm shift in travel planning.
This page requires some clicking and then paying close attention to see if there has been either no discernible reaction or, in other instances, an actual change. Expanding on this example, modifying information within the filter section has immediate impact on the search results, while modifying information within the top half of the form, the basic parameters, has no observable impact on the results, until the ‘search’ button is re-clicked (and all settings with ‘search section’ are reset and results erased).
Another section of the website that results in achieving the Fairly Recognizable rating is the seat selection interface. The seat selection is very cool, but different. After a few seconds the user can orient to the 3D presentation — which is both unexpected and an unusual presentation within the travel industry. Most users won’t have an issue with the format, but the seat selection can be tricky and will require minor adaptation.
Nothing at Vayama is overwhelmingly unrecognizable (much of the overall experience is fun) and, being Fairly Recognizable, can, with some finesse, be figured out and used by the average user.
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To help everyone gain a deeper understanding of Quick-UX and how to benefit from performing quick, quantitative analyses of User Experience, I am, over the course of this series providing real-world examples of Recognition values…
Broad Recognition (value 1)
Fair Recognition (value 0.5)
Poor Recognition (value 0)
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