Inconsistent ActiveState

user-useitQuick-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 Consistency often does not get the attention it deserves, in turn leading to more confusing, more frustrating, less Usable products.

Evaluation of Consistency covers the assessment of recurrent expectations as they are impacted and shaped by the product’s content (or wording), interfaces, and layout. Expectations that result from the type of web product and its market (inter-product, rather than intra-product) have greater impact on the Recognition variable.

Today, we will look at 2 examples of an Internet product with Minor Inconsistencies, representing a Consistency value of 0.5.

Example 1: Minor Inconsistencies (value = 0.5)

00_activestate_homepage

Order. Buy. Purchase. These are words to ActiveState with very similar, identical meaning, and are used throughout their website earning them the distinction of being a very good example of a web product with Minor Inconsistencies, and a Consistency value of 0.5.

Minor, non-intrusive, inconsistencies can be found causing minor confusion throughout the website. One such example is the mixed usage of language regarding the acquiring of a product. Starting on the homepage, the user is prompted to download, upgrade, or "Buy" the displayed products. Here, clicking on "Buy" will bring the user to the details page of that product.

04_activestate_buy

Elsewhere, on the Products page, the user is prompted to carry out one of the following actions, displayed alongside each of the listed products, to "Order" or try. Here, too, clicking on "Order" will bring the user to the details page of the corresponding product.

03_activestate_order

Interestingly, a page demonstrating many of these Minor Inconsistencies, is the Login / Register page. The language at the top of the page, encouraging and guiding the new or existing user to login or register, repeatedly refers to the product acquisition process, that the user is about to (or as ActiveState most probably hopes) interact with the shopping and buying sections of the website, refers to the processes of "purchasing," not "buying" nor "ordering" nor "adding to (ones) cart."

01_activestate_register_sig

Another inconsistency that can be easily spotted on the Login / Register page is in the usage of the ‘Sign in,’ Register,’ and ‘Sign up.’ It can be debated as to whether or not the usage of ‘Sign in’ alongside ‘Register’ would be inconsistent – perhaps, using ‘Sign up’ instead of ‘Register’ would be more inline. However, in describing the new account creation process, the word ‘Register’ is used throughout the entire site, except at the exact moment of action, of actually ‘Register’ing. At the moment, in that one location, ‘Register’ is not used. In place of the expected ‘Register’ button, the user finds the button labeled ‘Sign up.’

Example 2: Minor Inconsistencies (value = 0.5)

00_artbreak_home

Artbreak is a web product that helps artists share and sell their artwork online. Artbreak is also another good, clear example a web product with Minor Inconsistencies.

The first of these inconsistencies can be seen on the homepage. To log into the product, the user is provided with dual prompts for carrying out exactly the same action, to either ‘Log in’ or to ‘Sign in.’

01_artbreak_sigin_login

Another of the inconsistencies of Artbreak can also be seen on the homepage. Perhaps more minor than the first, still it is an apparent inconsistency. The homepage provides for the user to ‘upload my work.’ In both locations, different punctuation of the phrase is quite apparent.

02_artbreak_upload_my_work

An important observation of Minor Inconsistencies in online web products, and products like ActiveState and Artbreak, is that these consistencies do not occur on major website elements and are non-disruptive to the final goals of the user and the web product, overall.

Over the next several weeks I will be providing real-world examples of Consistency values…

No Apparent Inconsistencies (value 1)

Minor Inconsistencies (value 0.5)

Significant Inconsistencies (value 0)

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Usability and Consistency of Quick-UX, the quick and easy method of generating quantifiable and comparable metrics representing the understanding of the overall User Experience of a product, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Constant Gateway

user-useitQuick-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 Consistency often does not get the attention it deserves, in turn leading to more confusing, more frustrating, less Usable products.

Evaluation of Consistency covers the assessment of recurrent expectations as they are impacted and shaped by the product’s content (or wording), interfaces, and layout. Expectations that result from the type of web product and its market (inter-product, rather than intra-product) have greater impact on the Recognition variable.

Today, we will look at an example of an Internet product with No Apparent Inconsistencies, representing a Consistency value of 1.

Example: No Apparent Inconsistencies (value = 1)

00_gateway_home

Gateway provides a cohesive computer shopping / browsing web experience, with No Apparent Inconsistencies. When navigating from page to page, perhaps the most notably consistent feature is the header and header behavior. This element is present no matter where the user navigates to at Gateway.com. Furthermore, the header provides a consistent interaction experience and uniform rules for expanding and growing as the user goes from section to section, or digs down for more details.

04_gateway_headers

There are also No Apparent Inconsistencies with the language usage or capitalization. The page elements remain in-place, aligned, and consistent from page to page.

01_gateway_notebooks

02_gateway_product

Gateway‘s presentation of consistent interface, navigation, and language, with consistent responses to user actions throughout the entire site do not stop at the Support page – a page often found to have a greater occurrence of variance and inconsistency on other websites, at large.

03_gateway_support

Over the next several weeks I will be providing real-world examples of Consistency values…

No Apparent Inconsistencies (value 1)

Minor Inconsistencies (value 0.5)

Significant Inconsistencies (value 0)

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Usability and Consistency of Quick-UX, the quick and easy method of generating quantifiable and comparable metrics representing the understanding of the overall User Experience of a product, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

The Product Guy’s Weekend Reading (November 14, 2008)

reading_w_TPG_thumb5_thumb2_thumb2_t[2] Every week I read tens of thousands of blog posts. Here, for your weekend enjoyment, are some highlights from my recent reading, for you.

On Starting Up…
http://unalone.net/essays/the-problem-with-zoints/
Thoughts on the failure of online community startup, Zoints.

On Design & Product Experience…
http://www.usabilitypost.com/2008/11/14/the-pitfall-of-adding-keyboard-shortcuts-to-web-apps/
A quick look at the pitfalls of web application keyboard shortcuts.

On Modular Innovation…
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/who_will_control_your_data_web30.php
Determining the controllers of Portability and Ownership in the next generation of Modular Innovations.

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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On the Consistency of Quick-UX

user-useitMany websites can be seen to interchangeably, simultaneously, and (seemingly) randomly, use ‘signin’ and ‘sign-in’, ‘log in’ and ‘login’, along with various combinations of ‘signout’, ‘sign-out’, ‘logout’, and ‘log out’, sometimes with these variants all on the exact same page! Maybe the language and position vary depending on visual representation (textual or graphical), or maybe it just varies. This is inconsistency and is very confusing to the user.

Inconsistency, or poor consistency, damages the basic Usability of the product. Consistency, when done well, bolsters the User Experience, and reduces the learning overhead of terminology and interface elements. If something is always presented the same way, expressed the same way, then the user only has to learn it once; rather than learn all the useless variants it may have. Sound Consistency of language and interaction lowers the bar to responding affirmatively to the question…

Can I use it?

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 Consistency often does not get the attention it deserves, in turn leading to more confusing, more frustrating, less Usable products.

Evaluation of Consistency covers the assessment of recurrent expectations as they are impacted and shaped by the product’s content (or wording), interfaces, and layout. Expectations that result from the type of web product and its market (inter-product, rather than intra-product) have greater impact on the Recognition variable.

The Consistency variable’s rubric is:

The determining of the value for the Consistency variable is done through the brief surveying of the product, and assigning a…

  • 1 if there are no apparent inconsistencies,
  • 0.5 if only minor, non-intrusive inconsistencies are found,
  • 0 if there exist inconsistencies on major element(s) or a majority of minor elements. Inconsistencies on major elements lead to immediate confusion and second guessing information being conveyed.

Over the next several weeks I will be providing real-world examples of Consistency values…

No Apparent Inconsistencies (value 1)

Minor Inconsistencies (value 0.5)

Significant Inconsistencies (value 0)

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Usability and Consistency of Quick-UX, the quick and easy method of generating quantifiable and comparable metrics representing the understanding of the overall User Experience of a product, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

Add to Social Bookmarks: Stumbleupon Del.ico.us Furl Reddit Magnolia Google Add to Mixx!

The Product Guy’s Weekend Reading (November 7, 2008)

reading_w_TPG_thumb5_thumb2_thumb2_t[2] Every week I read tens of thousands of blog posts. Here, for your weekend enjoyment, are some highlights from my recent reading, for you.

On Starting Up…
http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/p277900614_Business-tag-lines-that-sell.html
On the importance and value in a fledgling company’s tagline.

On Design & Product Experience…
http://www.blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/articles/30-stylish-examples-of-doodles-in-web-design
Fun examples of ‘doodles’ in web design.

On Modular Innovation…
http://mashable.com/2008/11/01/netbook-cloud-computing/
Example of the role of hardware in the growth of Modular Innovation.

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Mystical Presdo

user-useitIntra-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 Poor Recognition, representing a Recognition value of 0.

Example 1: Poor Recognition (value = 0)

Presdo is a beautifully simple and unique event planner. Unlike all other event planners, there is neither a ‘create event’ nor ‘create’ button on the homepage. There is, however, a single text field prompting for an event description alongside a ‘do’ button.

00_presdo_homepage

It is not until the initial stage is grasped and acted upon, by the user, that any Recognizable elements, from ‘create event’ to ‘when’ and ‘where’ become evident.

01_do_pressed

Presdo is a wonderful example of product with Poor Recognition. A product does not have to be an ugly website or present a horrible idea to get a poor rating. Sometimes the most unique concepts are least easy to recognize. And, Presdo is just such a product.

Example 2: Poor Recognition (value = 0)

Perhaps the easiest example that exemplifies Poor Recognition is Ai Interactive Media’s website – with confusion all around.

00_aiinteractivemedia_homepage

While this product is clearly aiming to present a unique and fun experience, it should be obvious to all that the method of using and interacting with the product, as well as merely understanding what the product is trying to communicate, is difficult, and only achievable after spending a good deal of time with it. There are no recognizable elements, links, buttons, instructions, etc., that guide the user into making any decision.

Some recognizable clues become obvious after guessing to click on the moving, spiraling, zooming discs (perhaps CDs?). After clicking on one of these discs, another, uniquely distinct, interface is presented. On this screen, incomparable to any industry norms and unrecognizable to the average user, the user is presented with many more new concepts with very few being Recognizable actions (seemingly clickable), e.g. ‘Launch Work.’

01_aiinteractivemedia_clicked_thing

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)

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Usability and Recognition of Quick-UX, the quick and easy method of generating quantifiable and comparable metrics representing the understanding of the overall User Experience of a product, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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