Quick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX). In answering the question of Desirability, "Should I use it?" the sub-category of Layout is one of frequent discussion, especially in the latest wave of online products and how they handle content presentation and interaction.
The relationships between and among various page elements, how they play off of one another, constructively guiding a process, or organizationally segmenting a concept, can influence how accepted, by the user, the product is, and how Desirable, how much they (the users) will actually want to use it.
Today, we will look at an example of an Internet product with Inconsistent Grouping, representing a Layout value of +0.15.
Example: Inconsistent Grouping (value = +0.15)
Dice.com is all about finding a job, all about searching for a job, thereby making search a core part of the Dice.com product offering and the focus of our attention in this article as we look at a good example of Inconsistent Grouping.
The search page has 3 primary groups…
spanning the top of the page (below the page header / site navigation)
below the Job Search group and to the right of the Refine Search group
Redundancy & Interactivity
Among the first noticeable aspects of the groups within the user interface is the presence of redundant information and resultant actions. The user arriving at this product view will find a clear path to initiating the search within the prominently located Job Search group.
However, after initiating a search the user is presented with the exact same information within two locations. The information that was typed into the search text field remains, but the user is also presented with the exact same information within the Refine Search group.
Note that most of the information that is displayed within the upper region of the Refine Search group, within the sub-group of Current Search, is exactly what the user typed within the Search Group. The additional information being displayed is set and changeable via the other sub-group of the Refine Search group, indicated by the heading Refine Results.
At this stage, the user is faced with unnecessarily redundant information and multiple paths by which to accomplish the same operations on that information. This results in unnecessary complexity and confusion. If the user wants to remove a keyword from the search, the user is faced with an artificial choice…
Remove the keyword from the textfiield, or
Click ‘Undo’ in the Refine Search group.
Further compounding the negative impact on the Desirability of the product are the inconsistent options presented within each group. The Job Search group allows for adding and removing keywords and controlling whether or not some or all keywords should match to be displayed within the Search Results group. The Refine Search group allows for ONLY the removing of keywords, as well as the adjusting of additional meta information that is presented within the Refine Results sub-group.
The Save sub-group within the Job Search group is not only misaligned with the priorities of the page (its placement makes it appear to be the primary activity and most important action of the page), but misleading in its result. On one hand, the Save sub-group appears to be contained within the Job Search group and, thereby, only saving the information contained within the Search Again sub-group. On the other hand, the Save sub-group’s alignment with respect to the other groups and the language used within the group to describe the interaction, imply the Save operation is applicable to the entire contents of the page, encompassing all of the search information provided by both the Job Search group and the Refine Search group. However, neither of the prior expectations are entirely true. The Save sub-group saves all of the information provided by the Search Again sub-group along with only some of the information contributed via the Refine Search group, continuing an inconsistent experience resulting from inter- and intra-group interactions, as well as their respective alignments.
Most of the product’s page elements present a logic with respect to the grouping of options and information and some semblance of organization with respect to the alignment and approximate interaction between the groups’ various parts. The search view would greatly benefit from the…
Removal of all redundant information and actions, and
Consolidation and realignment of groups…
…such as …
Eliminating the Current Search sub-group — the user knows their search, they just typed it,
Relocating the Refine Search group as a sub-group of the Job Search group (or vice versa),
Adjusting the behavior and placement of the Save sub-group so as to better reflect its results, e.g. moving it to the Search Results group, of course with a minor adjustment in behavior.
And, until some of these (or similar) adjustments are made to improve the Grouping of interface elements within the Dice.com product, it will remain a prime example of a product with a Layout with Inconsistent Grouping.
Over the next several weeks I will be providing real-world examples of Layout values…
Clear Visual Hierarchy (value +0.4)
Fair Visual Hierarchy (value +0.2)
Poor Visual Hierarchy (value +0)
Non-negative Visual Flow (value +0.3)
Negative Visual Flow (value +0)
Poor Sequential Flow (value -0.15)
Inconsistent Grouping (value +0.15)
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