April 1, 2013
Feline users require special considerations, including larger tap target zones for paws, continual animation, and audible vocalization.
The science of human-computer interaction (HCI) seeks to understand the constraints and paradigms that define how people use technology. Cognitive science provides detailed knowledge of how people perceive, understand, and remember information; HCI applies this knowledge to predict how people will react to interfaces, and how those interfaces can be optimized for humans. Many of the basic principles of HCI have a huge impact on usability, and a thorough grounding in these concepts can help designers bring an informed perspective to unique interface problems.
Feline users require special considerations, including larger tap target zones for paws, continual animation, and audible vocalization.
Users often leave Web pages in 10-20 seconds, but pages with a clear value proposition can hold people's attention for much longer because visit-durations follow a negative Weibull distribution.
People remember much more after reading if they retrieve information about the text from memory. Quizzes are one way websites can help users remember more.
Inconsistent gestures, invisible commands, overlooked warnings, awkward dialog confirmations. But fun to play.
What users believe they know about a UI strongly impacts how they use it. Mismatched mental models are common, especially with designs that try something new.
Users overlook features if the GUI elements (such as buttons and checkboxes) are too far away from the objects they act on.
The human brain is not optimized for the abstract thinking and data memorization that websites often demand. Many usability guidelines are dictated by cognitive limitations.
From 0.1 seconds to 10 years or more, user interface design has many different timeframes, and each has its own particular usability issues.
Although its individual features weren't new, the Mac offered integration, the expectation of a GUI, and interface consistency. Is the iPhone the Mac of mobile?
A study of the benefits of big monitors fails on two accounts: it didn't test realistic tasks, and it didn't test realistic use. Productivity is a key argument for workplace usability, but you must measure it carefully.
When using PC-native file formats such as PDF or spreadsheets, users feel like they're interacting with a PC application. Because users are no longer browsing a website, they shouldn't be given a browser UI.
Internet scams cannot be thwarted by placing the burden on users to defend themselves at all times. Beleaguered users need protection, and the technology must change to provide this.
The 6 remote controls required for a simple home theater illustrate the problems caused by complexity and inconsistency in user interfaces.
Since I started using computers, they've become almost a million times more powerful. Although big computers can be alienating, their evolution generally leads to a better user experience.
Physical products, from consumer electronics to cars, are needlessly complex because they're developed by insular companies that continue to ignore the growing usability trend.
The IT industry is maturing. Hopefully, this maturity will result in a slower introduction of new features, which in turn will let companies focus their attention and resources on making existing technology work better for users.
The key difference between user interfaces for sighted users and blind users is not that between graphics and text; it's the difference between 2-D and 1-D. Optimal usability for users with disabilities requires new approaches and new user interfaces.
Visual interfaces are inherently superior to auditory interfaces for many tasks. The Star Trek fantasy of speaking to your computer is not the most fruitful path to usable systems.
The world of magic is a world where inanimate objects come alive; it's as if they had computational power, sensors, awareness, and connectivity.
Tiny motors and sensors will make physical objects interactive and create a renaissance for gestural user interfaces. As interface design moves from the screen to the material world, the need for simple, easy to use designs will only increase.
A core group of elite corporate research labs (and a few universities) defined the field of human-computer interaction and established much of whatever ease of use we now enjoy. With big labs disappearing, the future of HCI research is in jeopardy.
PCs do not need to be commodities: a focus on quality can differentiate both products and services. Software has great potential for getting better, as shown by an under-appreciated feature in Windows XP that can save users $2,000 per year.
Jakob Nielsen's trip report for Esther Dyson's PC Forum 2001 conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Mobile Internet access will free us from having to connect appliances to telephone jacks and will make smart devices much easier to install. In fact, they may not need a user interface at all, as exemplified by the Japanese i-pot.
A big lie of computer security is that security improves as password complexity increases. In reality, users simply write down difficult passwords, leaving the system vulnerable. Security is better increased by designing for how people actually behave.
Changing to a new fulfillment provider caused a website to lose all sales. Reason: lower usability. In the future, reputation managers and web wallets will even the playing field and remove Amazon's temporary advantage as the fulfillment provider of choice.
Jakob Nielsen's 1999 list of the ten most important thinkers of the 20th century.
The Mac interface and its clones must die and be replaced by an Internet Desktop based on explicit quality ratings, micropayments, non-linear authoring, and a scriptable Web.
People are not frogs, making it difficult to navigate 3D computer spaces: stick to 2D for most navigation designs. Shun virtual reality gimmicks that distract from users' goals
Advanced functionality requires Internet-enabled client-server software with optimized user interfaces that cannot be delivered in a Web browser. Reserve the Web for hypertext and content features.
The Java Ring, a piece of jewelry with 6 kilobytes of RAM, represented an early step towards computers that integrate into our physical environment.
All usability studies show that fast response times are essential for Web usability: let's believe the data for once! Advice for speeding up sites despite the fact that bandwidth is going down, not up.
Comparing the nature of the Web as a medium when accessed through television sets and when accessed through computers, concluding that the level of user engagement is a main differentiator
Analysis of the usability of WebTV, including user interface guidelines for designing cross-platform Web pages that are considerate of WebTV users
We reverse all of the core design principles behind the Macintosh human interface guidelines to arrive at the characteristics of the Internet desktop.
The file system has been a trusted part of most computers for many years, and will likely continue as such in operating systems for many more. However, several emerging trends in user interfaces indicate that the basic file-system model is inadequate to fully satisfy the needs of new users, despite the flexibility of the underlying code and data structures. Originally published as: 145. Nielsen, J. (1996). The impending demise of file systems. IEEE Software 13, 2 (March).
Multimedia is gaining popularity on the Web with several technologies to support use of animation, video, and audio to supplement the traditional media of text and images. These new media provide more design options but also require design discipline. Unconstrained use of multimedia results in user interfaces that confuse users and make it harder for them to understand the information. Not every webpage needs to bombard the user with the equivalent of Times Square in impressions and movement.
In the long term we will need about a million times more bandwidth than a T1, as shown by the following list of requirements for the perfect user interface.
Many users of the World Wide Web are unaware of the rich history of the hypertext field, and those who do not understand history are often doomed to repeat it. Case in point, the release of the Java language and the HotJava browser will probably mimic the events that followed the introduction of Hypercard in 1987.
Chapter 8 from Jakob Nielsen's book, Multimedia and Hypertext: The Internet and Beyond, explores a variety of information retrieval strategies for dealing with the ever-increasing volume of information on the internet.
Chapter 3 from Jakob Nielsen's book, Multimedia and Hypertext, describes the major milestones for hypertext, the internet, and the world wide web, including Vannevar Bush's Memex and Doug Engelbart's landmark demo of the online system (NLS.)
Usability inspection is the generic name for a set of methods that are all based on having evaluators inspect a user interface. Typically, usability inspection is aimed at finding usability problems in the design, though some methods also address issues like the severity of the usability problems and the overall usability of an entire system.
The 10 most general principles for interaction design. They are called "heuristics" because they are more in the nature of rules of thumb than specific usability guidelines.
A summary of statistics for the thirteen usability laboratories in 1994, an introduction to the main uses of usability laboratories in usability engineering, and survey of some of the issues related to practical use of user testing and CAUSE tools for computer-aided usability engineering. Nielsen, J. (1994). Usability laboratories. Behaviour & Information Technology 13, 1&2, 3-8.
Jakob Nielsen's trip report overview of the Computer Human Interaction (CHI) Conferences from 1983 to 1994.
Jakob Nielsen's trip report for the 1994 Computer-Human Interaction conference (CHI '94). CHI'94 (Boston, MA, April 24-28), IEEE Software 11, 4 (July), 110-112.
This essay describes a technique for extending a task analysis based on the principle of goal composition. Basically, goal composition starts by considering each primary goal that the user may have when using the system. A list of possible additional features is then generated by combining each of these goals with a set of general meta-goals that extend the primary goals.
Jakob Nielsen's trip report for the 1993 Usability Professionals Association (UPA) Annual Meeting. Usability Professionals Association Annual Meeting (Redmond, WA, July 21-23, 1993), SIGCHI Bulletin 26, 2 (April 1994).
Several new user interface technologies and interaction principles seem to define a new generation of user interfaces that will move off the flat screen and into the physical world to some extent. Many of these next-generation interfaces will not have the user control the computer through commands, but will have the computer adapt the dialogue to the user's needs based on its inferences from observing the user. This article defines twelve dimensions across which future user interfaces may differ from the canonical window systems of today: User focus, the computer's role, interface control, syntax, object visibility, interaction stream, bandwidth, tracking feedback, interface locus, user programming, and software packaging. Nielsen, J. (1993). Noncommand user interfaces. Communications of the ACM 36, 4 (April), 83-99.
A user test of handwritten input on a pen machine achieved a 1.6% recognition error rate at the character level, corresponding to 8.8% errors on the word level. Input speed was 10 words per minute. In spite of the recognition errors, information retrieval of the handwritten notes was almost as good as retrieval of perfect text.
Jakob Nielsen's trip report for the 1992 Computer-Human Interaction conference (CHI '92). CHI'92 (Monterey, CA, 3-7 May 1992), IEEE Software 9, 4 (July 1992), pp. 78- 79.
The concept of direct manipulation is usually viewed as a single characteristic of a class of interaction styles. Here, direct manipulation is analyzed according to a detailed layered interaction model, showing that it has quite different effects on the dialogue on the different levels. In particular, the "no errors" claim may be true at the syntax level but not at several of the levels above or below that level. Furthermore, a unified framework is presented for conceptualizing Direct Manipulation, What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG), Transparency, Immediate Command Specification, Arcticulatory Directness, and Computational Appliances according to a layered interaction view.
Jakob Nielsen's trip report from the 1990 Computer-Human Interaction (CHI '90) conference. CHI'90 (Seattle, WA, 1-5 April 1990), SIGCHI Bulletin 22, 2 (October 1990), pp. 20-25.
Trip report from a one-day seminar on usability metrics and methodologies, sponsored by the British Computer Society's human-computer interaction specialist group in connection with its 1990 annual meeting in London.
Trip report from the ACM Hypertext'89 conference. Includes summary of Meyrowitz' discussion of open integrating hypertext and the extent to which the Memex vision has been realized so far. Hypertext'89 (Pittsburgh, PA, 5-8 November 1989), SIGCHI Bulletin 21, 4 (April 1990), pp. 52-61.
Jakob Nielsen's trip report for the 1989 Hypertext 2 conference in York, U.K. International Conference on Fifth Generation Computer Systems (Tokyo, Japan, 28 November - 2 December 1988), SIGCHI Bulletin 21, 1 (July 1989), pp. 68-71.
Jakob Nielsen's trip report from the 1989 Computer-Human Interaction (CHI '89) conference held in Austin, Texas. CHI'89 (Austin, TX, 30 April - 4 May 1989), SIGCHI Bulletin 21, 2 (October 1989), pp. 28-40.
Jakob Nielsen's trip report for the 1988 Computer-Human Interaction conference (CHI '88). CHI'88 (Washington, DC, 15-19 May 1988), SIGCHI Bulletin 20, 2 (October 1988), pp. 58-66.
Jakob Nielsen's trip report for the 1989 Hyper Hyper Conference in London, UK. British Computer Society HyperHyper workshop (London, UK, 23 February 1989), SIGCHI Bulletin 21, 1 (July 1989), pp. 65-67.
Jakob Nielsen's trip report for the 1988 International Conference on Fifth Generation Computer systems conference in Tokyo, Japan.
Jakob Nielsen's trip report for the 1987 Hypertext conference. HyperTEXT'87 (Chapel Hill, NC, 13-15 November 1987), SIGCHI Bulletin 19, 4 (April 1988), pp. 27-35. Also exists in a hypertext version in HyperCard format.
Jakob Nielsen's Trip Report from the 1987 Joint Computer-Human Interaction + Graphics Interface Conferences (CHI+GI '87)
Jakob Nielsen's trip report for the 1986 Computer-supported Cooperative Work conference (CSCW '86). Computer-Supported Cooperative Work'86 (Austin, TX, 3-5 December 1986), ACM SIGCHI Bulletin 19, 1 (July 1987), pp. 54-61.