Consistency in external or internal UI causes ease of use and gives a favorable impression of the program. It also helps users perform tasks with less effort. It helps people learn a software easily. External consistency lets users be able to use a wide variety of programs to perform their tasks (Spolsky).
Too much consistency may imply that the design is unoriginal and simply a copy of the larger more famous program.
The inconsistent colors and tabs make the commands difficult to find and makes even simpler tasks look complicated.
One way to reduce cognitive load is to not show any unnecessary details on the user interface that may make it appear that learning the program is difficult. The UI design should be intuitive and seem natural to use, tis can be done by minimizing the choices, de-cluttering the interface and group similar things together.
Kinematic load can be lessened by reducing number of steps needed to perform a task. Repetitive tasks can be automated to further reduce kinematic load. Minimizing the range motion of mouse movements or travel distances also helps reduce kinematic load.
To implement chunking in the UI design, information should be chunked on a single page rather than creating too much navigation to obtain information. Related information could be put into a single page in a user friendly way. Implementing scrolling functions rather than add more pages, is also helpful. Utilize page length and width in a more efficient way to increase chunking.
Hello World Fillmore
Hello World Fillmore
Hello World Fillmore
Hello World Fillmore
A usability test was performed on Apple’s iTunes digital music application. Software version 8.2.1 released in July 2009 was used for the testing since in 2018, the latest versions have obviously become more advanced in their UI, usability and features, therefore it was decided to use an older version. As a windows user who does not use Apple’s digital music service, I decided to test iTunes for usability to be able to critically look at features that Apple/Mac users may be routinely accustomed to. My method involved using a pre-defined set of usability principles as evaluators to compare and test the application. The process is to try and complete a system task, focusing on the core functionalities of iTunes: such as importing, organizing and playing digital music and burning CDs. The approach used was not to read instructions and make an impatient use of mouse clicks and movements to perform simple tasks.
The first thing I notice in the program is the variations present between the language used in the buttons, tooltips and menus in the application’s interface. I saw this at various places
throughout the user interface, which the user has no option to change. The application expects me to learn new and different terminologies that were associated with an otherwise familiar task. I was noticeably taking more time to learn a task before being able to use it by clicking randomly to see what happens. Furthermore, this variant terminology confused me in several cases. Even through iTunes offered the required features needed in a program like this, but since the contextual right-click menus and the menu bar do not seem consistent in the options it offered, there were many simple tasks I initially thought they could not be performed at all. This problem wasn’t in one form or menu, but seems to occurs throughout the iTunes interface. For example, testing the import a music file option, I clicked the menu to find the feature. It gave the option Add File to Library. The commonly associated term is import, which was replaced by add file. Similarly, in trying to find the Burn to Disc option, the menu read Burn Playlist to Disc. I thought the only way to burn anything through iTunes must be if you have a complete playlist. Furthermore, I saw another menu option titled “Import”, clicking this option instead took me to a menu option where the program tries to import a .txt, .m3u or an .xml file instead of letting me import my music tracks. Opening the right-click contextual menu, gave an option to copy or delete a song in the library but had no option to paste it anywhere else. But when I went to the Edit menu to find the option, both functions were present there.
The other problem I found was a difference in terminology used for tooltips and buttons in the UI was often different from the one used in menus. I expected some function to perform something else whereas it did something else, indicating that it does not correspond well with the user’s expectations regarding that terminology. To perform simple tasks, the different language used required me to experiment on trial and error basis before being able to discover a specific option or feature. Working through the library, I wanted to delete an item. Right-clicking the menu, I expected to find a “delete” option but couldn’t find anything. That is because, by trial and error later on, I discovered that iTunes uses the word ‘Clear’ to represent the delete option. This again was only discovered by accident, when I clicked the option just to see what it does.
Another problem while trying to interact with the iTunes user interface was that there were intact many clickable buttons that do not look like buttons allowing a click. It is possible that Mac users may be accustomed to this but on Windows PCs, the buttons are quite clear from the non-clickable portions of the design. As I tried to test the Burn Disc feature, the button used to represent it has the same grayish color as the rest of the area. The icon, its color or symbol choice confused me as to whether even the Burn Disc option was available for use or not, because that is what I expected if the computer did not have a CD burner for example. Clcking on it however started the process. Besides the burn disc, I saw a number of round or small buttons that were clickable but because they seem grayed out, it again seemed to me that they may not be enabled. In a normal Windows program the buttons seem like buttons so that I do not have to move the mouse over the buttons to see if they are really buttons serving an active functionality in the program, or if something would happen with them. The color of the button hardly changes to highlight its click-ability in contrast to the usual windows programs I am accustomed to where at least some notable changes can be seen in the buttons to let the user know that you can click it.
Finally, in trying to test the program usability, many of the small buttons I tried clicking lacked any tooltip text that described what its purpose was. Tooltips are helpful in understanding the core functions of a button and I moved the mouse over to the buttons for a long time hoping to see something appear that told me what it does. When I clicked the burn disc option just for testing purposes, I expected the small sized, round ‘x’ like button the bar’s right, on the top portion, to let me cancel the CD burning process or halt the import to library process. Since there was no description from a tooltip, I kept on clicking it without seeing any purpose to what it does.
In general, it is true that the iTunes user interface borrows from the Mac OS general design, rather than looking like a Windows application. Though commonly, the Mac is associated with high usability, and does not generally hinder Windows users from being able to perform desired tasks. However, when designing for Windows users, some integration of Windows standards, for a few specific tasks would be quite helpful in my opinion. It would not affect the overall feel and look of the interface that much, but can significantly increase the application’s usability.
Spolsky, Joel. User Interface Design for Programmers. 1st Edition. Berkeley: Apress Heidelberg [u.a.] Springer, 2001.