Reading Reflection 1

Nielsen, J. (2000). Designing Web usability.

Nielsen provides a strong argument for the importance of web usability: That “users experience usability first and pay later” (Nielsen, 2000, p. 11). If they decide a website doesn’t instantly satisfy them, they’ll leave. Simple enough. Nielsen also makes a point from an engineering perspective that the main goal of creating a website is to make it easy for users to perform tasks. I wholeheartedly agree with his statements, and must say that it seems like a useful book to own, even having only read the first chapter. In only three pages he has given the reader several pointers in designing a web project, along with examples in which they can relate.

Tullis, T. & Albert, B. (2008). Measuring the user experience.

I had never heard the term “usability metrics” before this reading, however, (before I read the excerpt) I would have assumed it would be measurements taken to assess the usability of a product. This book seems to offer a lot in the way of what to measure, how, and what to do with the results, which should prove useful to my thesis.

There was also mention of formulas (which someone discourages me), although the book claims there are few. Although when I think about it, it is somewhat amazing that there even is such a formula to help identify if something can be regarded as “usable”. Or that usability can even be measured. It almost seems to be a subjective concept.

Other parts of the reading I found enlightening were the three definitions of usability. I would say I agree most with the ISO’s definition, however Krug seems to informally outline the very basis of usability. I also haven’t thought about the difference between “usability” and “user experience” before, but would agree that there is a line of separation between the two. Lastly, I had no idea how extensive was the importance of usability metrics. After all, “Without usability metrics, the magnitude of the problem is just a guess” (Tullis & Albert, 2008, p. 9).

Cooper, A., Reimann, R., & Cronin, D. (2007). About face: The essentials of interaction design.

Cooper brings up the point that digital products frequently interrogate users with demeaning questions. Perhaps this doesn’t occur as tactfully as it could, but at least the product is allowing for human error. After all, we make mistakes; I think that notifications like such give us room to correct them (when they are, indeed, our fault).

The first chapter seemed to be somewhat repetitive to me, but I would say it’s main points were the following:
– That a production team should consist of a person in each field who will complete a specific task (designers, managers, programmers, marketers, etc.). Communication between these members is important.
– Designs nowadays focus more on tasks of a user, instead of the overarching goals of a user.

Norman, D. The design of everyday things.

I really enjoyed this reading because of the numerous examples of good and bad design in everyday things. I thought it was easy to understand and presented good design principles such as visibilty, feedback, mapping, and the aspect of affordances. Indeed, many devices make us look stupid when lacking these qualities! Specifically, the trouble with opening doors reminded me of a surprising video: