January 28, 2008
The scene: some developers are observing their first usability test on some software they have built.
The first users walks in and completely misses the seemingly obvious cues in the user interface. The button the user needs to click might well be big and red and flashing with a marching ants border, but they just don’t see it.
“Dumb user” everybody thinks.
The second user walks in and also ends up hopelessly lost.
“Two stupid users in a row … what are the odds?”
The third user walks in. Same story.
At this point, the smart developers in the room are, hopefully, slapping their foreheads and thinking “how could we have been so stupid”.
The key here is getting to the third user.
Otherwise you haven’t really learnt anything.
Anybody who has worked with me on UI design will be familiar with my sarcastic request for a marching ants border. I always assumed this was impossible in HTML, but apparently not …