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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About Jeremy Horn

Jeremy Horn is an award-winning, product management veteran with 2 decades of experience leading and managing product teams. Jeremy has held various executive and advisory roles, from founder of several start-ups to driving diverse organizations in online services, consumer products, and wearables. As founder of The Product Group, he has created the largest product management meetup in the world and hosts the annual awarding of The Best Product Person. Accelerating the next evolution of product management, Jeremy acted as creator and instructor of the 10-week product management course at General Assembly and The New School, and mentoring at Women 2.0 and Lean Startup Machine (where is he also a judge). To see where Jeremy is now check him out at (1) http://linkedin.com/in/TheProductGuy and (2) http://TheProductGuy.com

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