An Event Apart Notes: Jared Spool, The Curious Properties of Intuitive Web Pages

Senseless waste of asterisks… Avis used an asterisk to denote optional fields. This means that there is a lot of baggage that comes with an asterixk. Somewhere this symbol got meaning, it’s not in the bible!

We can control when something goes from unintuitive to intuitive.

A design is intuitive (although technically and grammatically speaking that is false).

An intuitive design is when the user is focused on their objective.

Simplest site online; haynet, need hay and have hay. Unclear objectives.

Intuitive Design is Invisible. you only notice it when there is something wrong with it. Like the AC in the room, it’s only notices when there is a problem with it. It’s an issue of focus.

Lytro gives focus shift to the users.

We shouldn’t force users to focus on things which they don’t choose to.

Property #1 of intuitive design: Clear Focus.

Kittens die when marketing people win.

Keep focus on the users objective and not on the interface.

Magic Escalator of Acquired Knowledge: zero knowledge at bottom, full knowledge at top. Positions at current knowledge and target knowledge show a knowledge gap. To make a site intuitive we put current and target knowledge as close as possible. An intuitive design is when current knowledge = target knowledge. We can either train people to increase their current knowledge, or we can simplify the target knowledge. Teaching examples: like facebook timeline introduction, google apps update with walkthroughs. Simplify examples: craigslist, umbrella today.

Things with a large knowledge gap that we must use we tend to hate, and when use is voluntary we avoid. Things with a smaller knowledge gap and required are tolerated, and when use is voluntary we are cautious. If the knowledge gap is small enough users love it and use it! Making things usable lets users enjoy using it and they like us!

With a million visitors and a 1.6% conversion rate all purchases. 1 foot = 16,000 Visitors. The customers are the 1.6% that convert! Don’t alienate customers! Don’t destroy current users’ current knowledge, that’s like sending our best customers back down the escalator. Learning a system is an investment and people hate to relearn. Subtle changes doesn’t throw away current knowledge.

Always keep the focus on the users’ objective. Don’t distract with design changes.

Property #2: Map design to user objectives

See price in cart – on online stores is not a trick to get people to buy more. It’s a law they have to abide with thanks to the FTC.

Hipmunk flights drawn on chart and you can sort by agony. Different presentation of flight data, makes the shopping choice much more intuitive.

The medium of design is behavior.

Core skills of user experience (Intuitive): Interaction design, visual design, user research, copy writing, information architecture…

Users only see Local – local links. Users don’t pay attention to global links.

Best way to do user testing, watch people. Watch people. You find out simple and obvious things by watching users using the site.

Property #3: Forewarning

Shopping cart showing shipping before cc input is critical.

“More”, “previous” and “next” links are noise, especially when you come in at the middle. It makes everything out of context.

Pull to refresh: low target knowledge, no current knowledge. Not intuitive – socially transmitted functionality. STF.

Property #4: Understanding of Convention

Key functions enter vs shift enter, tabbing order, google apps:auto-saving.

Convention of proximity: username and password and login button should all be close together.

Understand which conventions users will expect. Techniques for understanding: filed visits, usability tests, paper prototype, Handbook of Usability Testing, Paper Prototyping.