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At a company I work for we want to find out how much time our users would need to find a specific icon in our UI. To accomplish this we plan to conduct a "Time to locate test" with users who are already familiar with our UI. However, as our company has not done much user testing in the past, we do not have any previous data to reference.

I'm wondering if there are any industry standards or rules of thumb that define a successful findability in UI design? Some approximate time frame?

Thank you all in advance!

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I'd suggest that you consider doing either an eye-tracking study or 1:1 usability tests where you watch and record the user's mouse movements (and ideally get them to talk back as they work to let you know what they expect and what they are thinking). Either of these could be useful in helping you determine the findability of your icon.

There's a lot to consider here, of course... who are your users and what are they trying to do on this page? How frequently are they visiting this page, is this an "expert" interface - something they need to learn but will then be in frequently - first time users (who are likely to scan the page for "hooks" that are relevant to their needs), or something in between? How many possibly actions are there already on this page, how high is the priority of this one, how well are the options grouped with each other or with relevant info, and how far around the screen do their eyes need to travel to find each one? These are all things that might help determine how to test and how to design the page.

You can find some general standards about timing and user expectations across the web, including some Norman Nielsen articles on performance SLAs (these being more about time than space), and this somewhat more relevant piece discussing the very general "15 second rule," which may or may not apply to your context... but it's a place to start.

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  • Hey, thank you for your answer, I appreciate it. We are testing an icon for expand and collapse sidebar of the application. Sidebar was already implemented in the UI but this will be the first time it will have expand / collapse feature. And yes, you could say it is kind of an expert mode (at least this is the idea of PM) when the sidebar is collapsed. It is expected that the experienced user will use it in collapsed mode and inexperienced user will use it expanded mode. Mar 14, 2023 at 7:28
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There is no hard and fast rule or industry standard for how long it should take users to locate an icon in a UI. However, there are some general guidelines that can be used as a starting point. In this article (https://www.nngroup.com/articles/powers-of-10-time-scales-in-ux/) Jakob Nielsen wrote that users should be able to find a target within a UI in 10 seconds or less. This guideline is based on the fact that users tend to lose focus and interest after this amount of time, and may become frustrated or give up altogether.

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