142

Make sure that you focus on goals. Don't ask what your users want or need in terms of functionality or form. Find out what they need (or want) to achieve .. that way the parameters you use to define and solve the problem will be much clearer and focused. Questions to ask your users might run along the lines of; what they need to achieve. how they ...


82

Don Norman's "Why we Love (or Hate) Everyday Things" opens with an account of a famous study on this, conducted by N. Tractinsky in 1999. He tested four different designs of an ATM machine, where each could have either good or bad usability, and good or bad aesthetics (a 2x2 research design). He reported that the degree of system's aesthetics affected ...


71

Yes, visual design affects user experience Here's a common meal with only one visual difference. It's enough to drive a dramatically different user experience: There is more formal literature on this topic, but since others have already provided citations, I will add one more a simple illustration. The following two forms are almost identical except for ...


49

You read as you approach. Theoretically. In reality, levels of visual acuity mean that some people (like you and I) can read the whole block at once. Another reason that painting information on the pavement isn't always ideal. Here's a good visual for how this is designed to function in practice: The trick is (as the image above shows) the spacing of the ...


40

A checkmark represents something positive - usually 'good' or 'correct', so you shouldn't use it to represent something negative like 'serious violation'. I would focus on using either a X or a warning sign, with a preference for the warning sign. Icon aside, I don't see any good reason to have columns for both 'serious violation' and 'Overall alert'. The ...


38

I had a customer a few years back who had gone through several stages of improvements to the way their system worked. Initially they managed everything in Excel and it kind of worked, but it started getting a bit bloated and rather out of hand - well you can imagine the problems! Then they got a team of developers in-house to improve the situation. How? ...


25

I can think of four broad techniques for tackling this issue. Firstly, it looks to me that you could probably get away with increasing the size of your UI components and copy. Text really needs to be 14px or above to be well-readable anyway, so there are practical benefits to doing this beyond just aesthetics. Secondly, if you feel a page seems 'orphaned', ...


24

I've come across this before and the following image illustrates just part of the problem: I've found that one way to find out what a user actually needs is to really understand the user's requirements, to the point where you can put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself "What would I need in this position?"* The other thing I've found that helps is ...


23

In complete agreement with the other answers, but to provide an alternate viewpoint: If you were driving at night, your headlights will reveal the beginning of the sentence before the end.


23

You could start by reading interaction-design.org's entry, by Noam Tractinsky, on visual aesthetics. Remember also to read Jeffrey Bardzell's comments on the entry. Then you could check out Tractinsky's seminal What is beautiful is usable: A multivariate analysis of covariance revealed that the degree of system's aesthetics affected the post-use ...


21

One isn't better than the other. They are simply different. There is a lot of evidence that your eye will pick out objects styled to look like they are 3D faster than perfectly flat objects. In addition seeing an object that looks sort of 3D will give it some level of affordance that wouldn't be there otherwise. The problems that the Windows Metro ...


21

On closer inspection of your question, I am revising my answer. What you're trying to convey is "Does this company have a failure (i.e. non-compliance to some standard)? Yes or No". In which case, color is irrelevant, it's not a failure, and a check mark is somewhat standard. Consider a table where multiple types of the same thing, like a tablet computer, ...


20

I believe the cause is that handwriting generally has a higher x-height than printed type. That makes all-caps handwriting look more like printed small-caps, which are generally not considered rude, and actually end up looking formal. It's also true that all-caps used on the web now carries the connotation of screaming by convention (as mentioned by Juan ...


20

Here's the thing about downvotes; almost no one downvotes. And another thing: some people downvote anything. Don't believe me? Check out this chart from when Youtube stopped using 5 star ratings: For the most part people are much, much more willing to note what they like, not what they dislike, at least in simple rating systems (fully written reviews tend ...


18

There is of course an awful lot of research on color and color perception. Most relevant to your purpose is perhaps the work Cynthia Brewer did on ColorBrewer. You can find the resulting tool at http://colorbrewer2.org/ It was originally designed to help choose color for maps but it can also be used for statistical graphs (it's built in Hadley Wickham's ...


17

I would use a red exclamation point as the Icon in the column (similar to the Icon JohnGB used. My first thought was to rename the column so you could use a red X. For example if you renamed it to 'Conforming', 'In Good Standing', 'No Violations', or 'Playing By the Rules', then you could use a red X to indicate that the company is NOT conforming, or has a ...


17

I agree with most of the points that have been made so far, so I'll just add one that hasn't been touched on yet. One of the things often overlooked about visual design is the impact that it has on the user's trust. If you've ever gone to a small-business website that has been constructed using one of the many. template-based, cheap, hosting websites, you'...


16

With the little research I could find, there are primarily three polygons which are used in signs for hazards which are : Triangle : Usually used for caution Diamond : usually used to denote Warnings Octagon : Used to denote danger. To quote from the article I am referencing : SHAPES AND WHAT THEY MEAN: Here is a example of it being used in real life ...


15

I find just using the colors as the demarkation a bit harder to understand. You can use a vertical rule to act as a placeholder for the goal, YTD or annual, depending on the day. Your focus should be the goal and how much over or under you are. What I mean is there is not enough value of showing the actual numbers when you are just bother to about the ...


15

There were scientific studies in aviation, that show, that visual aesthetics of control dashboards in plane's cockpit affects effectiveness of flight operations. So visually appealing design affects usability. But what was interesting, that when the system was too beautiful for operators, they perceived it as too intelligent and ideal, so the effectiveness ...


14

All capital handwriting is easier to read because it takes more time to write and forces the author to slow down. This increases legibility by requiring the writer to compose each individual letter one at a time. The variations for capital letters are less compared to lower case or cursive characters. Architects and engineers developed their particular ...


14

I would argue that the shape itself has no (or at least very little) meaning. It is the color and the secondary symbol (exclamation mark vs. question mark) that provide the context. Any of the icons in your question are an equally reasonable choice for conveying "warning" or "caution". Even Microsoft's Standard Icons reuse the same shapes for both the most ...


13

Time is only one of the factors that affect whether an app feels responsive. However there are decent guidelines that give you a rough idea of how people perceive response. Jakob Nielsen has written a good article on Response times that I use as a rough guide. It states that: 0.1 second is about the limit for having the user feel that the system is ...


11

A lock is the most commonly used that I have seen, as privacy generally is about locking away or hiding information. Some usable examples are: The recent MEGA logo (copyrighted I'm sure) is a great example, but not one that you can easily use. It does however show a growing understanding of a lock representing privacy.


11

Good Design In general, having a well designed site will give a sense of security. If the site looks like has been thrown together in a couple of hours, it is not going to inspire much trust in the user. Compare the 2 sites below, which looks more trustworthy? Trust Icons You can also increase the appearance of trust by adding icons related to security. ...


11

I had a very similar problem recently, and did some user testing on it. The main thing that came out of it was that we should avoid colours that have a common meaning. So yellow was a bad option, and green represented 'good', not 'acceptable'. In the end we used grey as the neutral background colour, blue as the progress for 'expectation'; green as '...


11

The main issue is not with colors, although JohnGB has some valid points on this. i would go with something like this in order to avoid the confusion with colors.


11

The colour indicator is used as a priority status: Red = urgent. Orange = weak warning. Green = good. The priority depends on the application and the consequences of a low charge. For something like my kindle where the battery lasts for a month or more at a time, 10% isn't yet an urgent battery level. But for a backup UPS in a hospital, a charge level ...


10

The only way that you will ever understand what people need it to first understand them and their problem. There isn't any magic formula or set of steps to go through to do this, but any steps that you can take which help you see their problems from different perspectives will help. That is the reason that most successful software is written by people ...


10

You aren't as likely to discover their needs by analyzing their reactions to something that you've built. I agree with codeinthehole - research that independently of your ideas. Some questions that might be helpful: What's a random day in their life like? When / where do they use tools similar to yours? What do they need to know beforehand in order to ...


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