A new UIE article summarizes the Five Usability Challenges of Web-based Applications to help advertise their latest research report.
Many e-commerce sites give users the option of storing their shipping and billing information. What happens when users have multiple payment methods (such as a work credit card and a home credit card) or have multiple shipping addresses? For some gift sites, such as Proflowers.com, users could have many people they wish to send flowers to on a regular basis. That implies building sophisticated address book functionality into their order processing application.
#2 Visual Design
Take the common practice of supplying an “Advanced Search” capability alongside the standard search. A typical implementation will have a text box (for entering the query), a “Search” function (for the standard search), and an “Advanced Search” function. Should the designers make both functions into buttons? Will that confuse the user? If they make “Advanced Search” a link, will users understand it’s an alternative command (versus an explanation or some other site feature)?
Web-based applications often help people by doing things outside their expertise. They turn to the application to help guide them through a decision making process they couldn’t do on their own. Yet, if they make the wrong decision, it negatively affects their experience and their relationship with the organization.
Users don’t always follow the “happy path.” They enter data incorrectly. They decide they need to go back and change something they’ve already entered. They discover they need to learn more about what the application is asking of them and, thereby, need more detailed assistance.
#5 Change Management
While users are resistant to change, they are willing to do it when given enough support and structure. The problem with quick changes often happens when users frequently use an application and the old design conditioned them to things being a certain way. Even when the change is to their advantage, they often need warning and support to go from the old to the new.