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Should we abandon usability guidelines?

In the article "Evolution Trumps Usability Guidelines", Jared M. Spool calls web usability guidelines into question.

In his opinion we can't assume that following guidelines will result in more usable sites if they haven't been tested properly in various contexts. Following such guidelines can even harm the usability of a site:

"This means that following untested guidelines is like drinking water from an unidentified source. It might quench your thirst, but it could also make you very ill."

The problem with guidelines is an old one in interface design and has been discussed intensively in the literature. Some of the most important conclusions here is, that usability guidelines has proven very useful, but they should be used with caution:

- Never use a guideline without considering its relevance in the context it will be applied to
- Never base your design choices solely on guidelines - use other methods to verify its usefulness
- Study how users interact with you designs

Links:

  • The article Evolution Trumps Usability Guidelines Open link in new window
  • Lyle Kantrovich's comment to the article Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - October 01, 2002

See also: Tips and guidelines (95)  Guidelines and Standards (15) 

 

COMMENTS

A while ago - for an asignment at college - we tried to create some multimedia design guidelines... "These guidelines are intended to support creativeness in design rather than restrict or limit the designer and prevent them from providing imaginative or novel implementations of particular features or functions. Certain issues should be mentioned which relate to the development process in general. Namely, user involvement, testing and prototyping and the need for iteration at various stages in the development cycle. Technological aspects of application development should also be considered, such as the latest development techniques and tools, testing the application on various delivery environments and need to perform systematic error checking."

Links:

  • MM Design Guides

ben hyde | October 03, 2002

 

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