Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Nielsen's "Usability" and Some Questions (Part 3/3)
Nielsen says, “Peoples’ attitudes toward computers in general should probably be seen as a component of the social acceptability of computers rather than their usability.” One interesting outgrowth of this statement would be the fact that as time progresses and technology finds its way into true ubiquity, we will find fewer instances of true novices and social accessibility will increase regardless of a designer’s intent.
Where Jakob Nielsen discusses usability trade-offs several good comments surface, including the fact that one cannot design the perfect interface for all user types. Also, where other considerations, such as security measures, take precedence, ease of use sometimes suffers. This area naturally leads into section 2.5, where he discusses categories of users and user differences. This is an essential element to be covered in these beginning chapters. Figure three on page 44 shows the matrix of users’ experience which is also enlightening.
The way that Nielsen goes on to describe the systems as they pertain to the matrix is quite eye-opening especially if someone has never considered these interfaces from the perspective of the user. He also introduces the concept of quartiles in signifying which user is at the high end of a given spectrum or the lower end.
At the end of this chapter, Nielsen also mentions that it is not necessarily the best idea to permit the user to customize their own interface beyond a certain cosmetic point. This point is followed up in later chapters, but it does provide the context for additional questions.
How does one decide how much of an interface should be customizable (for example, in the case of Facebook versus Myspace)?