The ABC of Usability Part 11
The latest instalment in our monthly list of User Experience terms and definitions.
Each month, we are adding new terms to our existing glossary of Usability and UX definitions; terms we deem useful, interesting or – hopefully – a mixture of the two!
Discover new terms, learn more of the ones you thought you knew and find out interesting, little known, details.
December’s five new terms are as follows:
User Acceptance Testing (UAT)
Colloquially referred to as Beta testing in the Software industry, User Acceptance Testing is aimed at verifying whether a solution works for the user ie. Test the user accepts the proposed solution.
It is aimed at verifying a system meets the goals and expectations required of it. As one the final stages in the development cycle, users test it as if being used in real world conditions. This final stage of verification ensures that everything works as required when it enters the big wide world.
Again, due to it being the final stage of development, and due to the very nature of the test, testers are often end users or clients of the potential system. Gaining their acceptance is key in ensuring the system is desirable and key in building confidence prior to launch.
We see them so often, it is hard to believe they have a name associated to it. This scale, generically used in nigh on every survey we encounter. Despite being a rather dull item that we’ve all encountered far too many time, the Likert Scale is indeed quite interesting (by statistics standards anyway..).
The man behind it is psychologist Rensis Likert. Developed as a part of his Thesis at Columbia University in 1932, the Likert Scale measures a person’s beliefs, feelings and attitudes towards some objects. It collates the individual questions with that rating scale we’ve all seen (called Likert Sets) to form a mean ‘feeling’ – the Likert Scale.
The general setup is a 5 point scale ranging from strongly agree, to strongly disagree. Likert tested to conclude that this was the most efficient system. A 7 point scale often throwing up higher mean scores. The central, neutral rating, is also important. Without it, you only trap your subject forcing them to make a decision on something they have no opinion about.
More can be read on the psycology behind the scale here
Training Wheels User Interface
Training wheels (or stabilisers as we call them in the UK), are those small wheels added to a child’s bike to aid them when learning to ride. Ensuring the child is gently eased into the process, and limiting damage. If only this same system could be applied to software…
Training Wheel User Interfaces are the answer. Their aim: to only reveal the most basic and essential of functions to the user. Hiding the more advanced features until the user has a better understanding of what they are doing. This allows users to play around and experiment more effectively, ultimately aiding their learning of this new system.
Later, when they feel more confident and know what they are doing the more advanced functionality can be enabled. A study by the grandaddy of UX, Jakob Nielsen, declared that through using a Training Wheels UI, learning can be increased by upwards of 69% when compared to throwing advanced features at someone.
Biology, what is this doing here? Chromostereopsis is quite the mouthful, and is indeed useful in both usability and UX believe it or not. So what is it?
Chromostereopsis is a visual phenomenon related to our perception of colour, and how they eye and in turn our brain interprets it. Wikipedia defines it as, “”a visual illusion whereby the impression of depth is perceived in two-dimensional color images”. Through clever use of colour, we can trick our brain into creating depth where there is none. Look at the image above, which appears the ‘closer’ colour? The vast majority of the population will identify red as the answer.
We can take advantage of this trick in visual design to help enhance certain aspects. This article brilliantly details the physiology behind it and how exactly it can be used with regards to usability.
To finish with, a definition that requires little explanation,
A Hover state is simply the change of state in an object within a UI when the cursor is hovered over it. A frequent seen example being the ‘flow’ of the Dock on the Mac interface. The majority of the time, especially online, we use this technique to show the user which parts of the screen are selectable. The change of state alerting our user that this thing can indeed be clicked.