Topic: ease of use

topics > computer science > user interface > Group: testing and evaluating user interfaces

goals for a programming system
graphical user interface

abbreviated input
computer as an intelligent agent
direct manipulation for a UserInterface
disorientation in a user interface
ease of learning
error messages
error safe systems
expert users
help in UserInterface
identifying the user interface with the system
interactive response time
localized understanding
keystroke-level model for user interface evaluation
man-machine symbiosis
modes in a user interface
preventing accidental errors
problem of screen size
step-by-step dialog
undoing actions in a UserInterface
usability errors
user maintenance
user profile
user-centered design
user interface design


A system should be easy to use once it is learned. Much of the electronic office depends on ease of use. Information must be easy to access, easy to input, and easy to modify. A similar term is "user friendly" although this term emphasizes ease of learning.

Some attributes that aid ease of use are uniform user interface, consistent applications, integrated applications, close match to manual methods,

An easy-to-use system is almost by definition one that doesn't require programming. Programming is intrinsically difficult because it requires decoding the old version and encoding a new version. Still, an easy-to-use system shouldn't preclude design by users. Users should be able to customize the system to their needs. (cbb 6/83)

Subtopic: usability up

Quote: small languages such as Scheme and Pascal are insufficient for today's world of graphical interfaces, mobile code, client/server, multithreaded, and multi-language [»steeGL10_1998]
Quote: the Compendium is a manual Hypertext of reference data on human perception and performance; 3000 pages text and 2000 figures, tables, illustrations [»glusRJ5_1989]
Quote: usability categories--simple/natural dialogue, user language, reduced memorizing, consistency, feedback, exits and shortcuts, error messages and prevention [»moliR3_1990]
Quote: HANDS programming language designed for usability by children, fifth grade or older [»paneJF9_2002]
Quote: if remove queries, aggregates, and visibility from HANDS, only 1 of 9 solved a task vs. 7 of 9 with HANDS [»paneJF9_2002]

Subtopic: natural system up

Quote: people are used to dealing with a rich and deceptive environment, e.g., driving on an expressway [»weisM11_1987]
Quote: meaningful tasks within the domain of the user's interest should be expressible by a line or two of code in the user's very first program [»eiseM4_1995]
Quote: while not intuitive, the minimalist UI feels natural after a couple of hours of training [»pikeR6_1991a]
Quote: ease of use by visible alternatives and by natural mappings from controls and displays to results in the world; e.g., steering a car [»normDA_1988]
Quote: natural mappings can minimize the need for labels; always reconsider a design when labels appear necessary [»normDA_1988]
Quote: the structures of everyday activities are either shallow or narrow, unlike chess which is wide and deep; requires minimal mental effort [»normDA_1988]
Quote: path of least resistance--default settings are secure, avoid accidents, make security easy [»yeeKP12_2002]

Subtopic: conceptual model up

Quote: design for people by a good, predictive conceptual model, and visible states and action alternatives [»normDA_1988]
Quote: gulf of evaluation: is the system's state easy to perceive, easy to interpret, and consistent with the user's model; good feedback [»normDA_1988]

Subtopic: easy to use, complicated systems up

Quote: complicated systems must be easy to use; systems can be powerful and simple at the same time [»nelsTH_1974]
Quote: simple things should be simple; complex things should be possible [»smitDC4_1982]
Quote: the goal of computer language design is the rapid and easy production of programs that work as intended [»cleaJC_1975]
Quote: a cluttered, cryptic, alphabetic, help-less interface works well if the designers understand the users' background and tasks [»brooR3_1993]

Subtopic: fit to task up

Quote: gulf of execution: do the actions provided by the system match those intended by the user? [»normDA_1988]
Quote: a programming language's style should reduce housekeeping in its domain while allowing expression in other domains [»blumBI_1985]

Subtopic: tools up

Quote: local tools are large, simple tools that sit directly on the Pad++ surface; select a tool by clicking on it; recover lost tools by clicking the "tool box" [»druiA3_1997]
Quote: calculators don't need a special purpose program; just turn them on [»instrumentcontrol]
Quote: why are spreadsheets easy to use? visible, up-to-date, one cell at a time, modeless, direct action, no conditionals, independent cells, any data type, natural model, smart assistance, multiple views [»myerBA_1992]
Quote: spreadsheets are successful because of end-user programming; rarely available in other applications or requires conventional programming [»myerB3_2000]

Subtopic: prevent or tolerate errors up

Quote: should design dialogues to prevent or tolerate errors; e.g., alternative telephone number formats; widely ignored [»moliR3_1990]
Quote: if you must change a system, make it a large and obvious one; otherwise accidental errors become easy [»tognB_1990]
Quote: a system should always provide clearly marked exits; allows escape from accidental errors [»moliR3_1990]

Subtopic: speed of use up

Quote: measure user interface, layout appropriateness by weighted costs of performing common tasks; yields faster performance and preferred layouts [»searA7_1993]
Quote: minimizing the number of keystrokes may not make a system easy to use; want overall simplicity [»smitDC4_1982]

Subtopic: scale independent up

Quote: Smalltalk scales well; the second half is as easy to develop as the first half [»teslL8_1981]

Subtopic: provide multiple methods up

Quote: allow multiple program styles; in paper solutions, participants used many styles including event-based, constraint, graphical constraints, declarative, imperative [»paneJF2_2001]
Quote: a user interface should include multiple ways to say the same thing [»wassAI_1973]

Subtopic: notes up

Quote: simple memory aids, such as lists and notepads, are essential to everyday functioning [»normDA_1988]

Subtopic: physical constraints up

Quote: physical constraints are best when easy to see and interpret; then the allowable set of actions is known beforehand [»normDA_1988]

Subtopic: automation up

Quote: practical ease of use by automatic processes with simple overrides for when the user needs control [»beckJD7_1987]

Subtopic: abbreviation up

Quote: over 80% of subjects who abbreviated commands used truncation exclusively; few abbreviation errors [»benbI4_1984]

Subtopic: English commands up

Quote: found that an editor based on English commands was better than one based on notations [»ledgHF11_1980]
Quote: an English editor did much better than an equivalent, notational editor; demonstrates the importance of an interface's surface syntax [»ledgHF11_1980]
Quote: use noun-verb commands since have more judgment in selecting an object and can change selection [»smitDC4_1982]
Quote: even simplified scripting languages need general-purpose control structures and variables [»myerB3_2000]

Subtopic: subtitles up

Quote: using subtitles to group related items clearly improves search time without changing error rates [»hornAJ9_2001]

Subtopic: blind users up

Quote: testing blind users with screenreaders; listened incredibly fast; scan with their ears [»theoMF11_2003]
Quote: blind users do not want a special, text version of web pages
Quote: blind users scan the first few words; e.g., start questions with a keyword, use descriptive links

Subtopic: examples up

Quote: Andrew's first editor abandoned for Emacs because it omitted basic useful features [»boreNS_1991]
Quote: Andrew's EZ editor won users by implementing a package for C programs that was not possible in Emacs [»boreNS_1991]

Subtopic: limited usability up

Quote: while programming methods help with accidental difficulties, they are only slightly better for essence-borne difficulties; some part of the method becomes painful, distasteful, and difficult

Related Topics up

Group: goals for a programming system   (21 topics, 983 quotes)
Group: graphical user interface   (24 topics, 512 quotes)

Topic: abbreviated input (10 items)
Topic: computer as an intelligent agent (49 items)
Topic: direct manipulation for a UserInterface (56 items)
Topic: disorientation in a user interface (13 items)
Topic: ease of learning (38 items)
Topic: error messages (37 items)
Topic: error safe systems (76 items)
Topic: expert users (25 items)
Topic: help in UserInterface (33 items)
Topic: identifying the user interface with the system (16 items)
Topic: interactive response time (32 items)
Topic: localized understanding (43 items)
Topic: keystroke-level model for user interface evaluation (6 items)
Topic: man-machine symbiosis (46 items)
Topic: modes in a user interface (40 items)
Topic: preventing accidental errors (37 items)
Topic: problem of screen size (12 items)
Topic: step-by-step dialog (3 items)
Topic: undoing actions in a UserInterface (23 items)
Topic: usability errors (6 items)
Topic: user maintenance (13 items)
Topic: user profile (16 items)
Topic: user-centered design (65 items)
Topic: user interface design
(36 items)

Updated barberCB 7/05
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