User Experience and Usability Standards
User experience (UX) is a user-centered design process of enhancing usability, accessibility, and ease of use by focusing on having a deep understanding of users’ wants and needs, values, abilities, and limitations. Nielsen Norman Group—a leading user experience firm with global experience—defines UX as “all aspects of the user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”
Put another way, UX is a means to drive product innovation and differentiation, while enriching a company’s culture. Good UX takes into account the stakeholder’s business goals and objectives, and key performance indicators, along with the users’ goals, to create a product that meets everyone’s needs.
When developing and selecting tools, understand what your users want and need, and prioritize user impact in design decisions. Strive to optimize the experience for the entire user journey, not just specific channels or touchpoints.
Your product should work great on all devices and platforms.
User feedback is essential to the success of your product. We recommend that the user research and usability test a mandatory process throughout the design, testing, and implementation phase. This process is to ensure the product is usable, effective, efficient to use, and achieve user satisfaction. It’s important to make the products accessible for all users, regardless of circumstances or limitations using various devices such as a computer, laptop, tablet, phone, or assistive technology.
UX Matters defines enterprise UX as the design of products for people at work. Most enterprise software is sophisticated. Users who interact with the products to get critical jobs done tend to face a steep learning curve.
The customer who purchases the enterprise software is usually not the same user who ends up using it. Since there is less competition for enterprise vendors, once they already have a foot in the door, there is very little investment to improve the product experience.
Perform a usability test on the platform, measure the user goals against the interface. By testing multiple users at the same time, it helps to identify usability problems, collect qualitative and quantitative measurements to help determine the participant's satisfaction with the product.
Field studies are research conducted at a user's context and location. It helps understand user goals, challenges, and help to identify unmet user needs. At the enterprise level, the in-context behavior will help us to organize the design to maximize the organization’s needs.
At the enterprise level, design standards will help enforce consistency. It helps increase users’ productivity by making fewer errors or workarounds. It also promotes group-level usability and collaboration efficiently. We are actively working on a design system that will be available to share with the Columbia community in the winter of 2020.
Usability refers to the degree of a product, whether it’s hardware, websites, or applications, that’s easy for users to achieve their objectives with efficiency, effectiveness and satisfying to use. A product that’s efficient determines how fast an experienced user can accomplish tasks, while effectiveness is the amount of effort and understanding it takes for the user to understand the navigation or architecture of the site or application.
Another usability attribute is that the interface should be easy to recall for future visits with a minimal learning curve.
Below are the 18 usability principles to evaluate systems, applications, and interfaces:
- User Control
- The interface will allow the user to perceive that they are in control and will allow appropriate control.
- - Let the user choose when to advance to the next page, instead of automatically redirecting them. - When a user clicks on a link by mistake, give them the option to return to the previous page where they came from without breaking the convention. - Let user control when they would like to start playing the video and volume, not autoplay
- Recognition vs. Recall
- Reduce short-term memory load by assisting the user and providing needed information through the interface.
- - If asking a user for their account number, provide it for them if possible.
- If the user is filling out a multi-page form, show the information they have already submitted when asking for confirmation.
- Mental Model
- The interface/system should match mental models that the user holds in the real world.
- - If a person was looking for rooms in multiple buildings, show rooms grouped by building, not in an alphabetical list.
- The interface will communicate as efficiently as possible.
- - Instead of a button saying "Click here to submit your form," just use "Submit".
- Aesthetic Integrity
- The interface will have an attractive and appropriate design.
- - Interface styles support the user focusing on the actions they are completing, not distracting them.
- The interface will present elements simply.
- - Instead of adding extra styles, graphics, words, and lots of functionality, reduce the complexity of the page and simplify down to the essential information/elements.
- The interface will behave in a manner such that users can accurately predict what will happen next.
- - Instead of having a button that says "Go!" provide a "Submit form" button with text telling the user what will happen next. - An action button on a multi-step form could say "Complete order and proceed to confirmation".
- The interface will make reasonable guesses about what the user is trying to do.
- - Chrome autofill will fill out a form based on a user's contact information that it knows.
- The interface will be free from errors.
- - The form will not allow characters that will break the form.
- Error Handling & Prevention
- The system will prevent errors as much as possible, and provide simple error handling in meaningful terms.
- - Validation on form fields to prevent user error. - Helpful instructions in the context of the interface to assist the user. - Plain language in the user's terms to explain errors.
- Allow users to customize the UI as appropriate.
- - ServiceNow dashboards let you customize what you see. - Options for users to choose settings between list view and grid view of items.
- Enable frequent users to use shortcuts for common tasks.
- - Showing "recently viewed" items to the user. - "Frequently visited" menu to frequent actions.
- Strive for consistency across the interface and system.
- -The interface uses the same names for menu items as their corresponding page titles. - A logo lockup is always in the top left, and search is always in the top right and does not change on different pages of the interface. - Breadcrumbs across all pages offer users a way to trace the path back to their original landing point.
- User Support
- The interface will provide additional assistance as needed or requested.
- - Contextual help provided through information links to explain form fields and why they are needed. - Permanent link to customer support in the interface.
- The interface will allow the user to perform a task exactly.
- - Ensure users can complete tasks efficiently, and not have to rely on workarounds or repetitive processes.
- The system will permit easy reversal of actions.
- - If the user mistypes their email address and misses the "@," the form should validate the field and alert the user to the error so they can fix it. - If the user submits the form, let the user edit the form without having to start over from scratch. - Provide an "undo" button when editing. - Revision history
- The interface will offer informative feedback to the user.
- - If the user went idle for a while, let them know that there will be a timeout. - Confirmation message upon action completed, confirming to the user that it was a success. - If the user has not filled out a required field, highlight the field in red and have text saying "This field is required."
- Accessibility Compliant
- The interface will meet AA WCAG level 2 accessibility compliance.
- - All links should have an accessible active/focus/hover state. - All interfaces should be navigable by tabbing (keyboard only). - All images have alt-text - Labels Headings for data tables - Caption and/or provide transcripts for media - Accessibility for non-HTML content, including PDF files, Microsoft Word documents, PowerPoints - Allow users to skip repetitive elements on the page - Do not rely on color alone to convey meaning
Great design is rooted in keeping the users in the center of the design process. It involves developing a deep understanding of the users through research while organizing the content, information, or visual design to meet user needs. To delight our users, we must create the products and services that are useful, usable, effective, efficient, and desirable.
We employ design thinking and ideation methodologies to help facilitate the conversation. We begin the empathetic process by conducting research and develop an understanding of the users. We then observe and combine our research to define the problems. Using the problem definition, we generate a range of creative ideas that lead to prototyping and testing the product.
We offer the following services to the Columbia community. The methods that we pick may vary from project to project.
Observe and Analyze
- Audience Research
- Card Sorting
- Cognitive Walkthrough
- Competitive Analysis
- Contextual inquiry
- Expert Evaluation
- Design Thinking
- Journey Mapping
- Pluralistic Walkthrough
- User and Stakeholder Interviews
- UX Teardown
- Vendor Usability Evaluation
Envision and Design
- Content Strategy
- User Experience Strategy
- Ideation and Design Thinking Workshops
- Mobile Responsive and Web Development
- Enterprise Architecture
- Governance and Compliance
Evaluate and Define
- Diary Studies
- Benchmark Testing
- Usability Test
- Quality Assurance & Testing
- Instructor-Led Training
The accessibility guideline is currently being developed.
Web and Application Development
The project lifecycle usually varies from a website to an application, but it generally follows these few steps: We start with project discovery and kickoff. At the meeting, we will discuss the project requirements, identify users’ goals and tasks. At the end of the session, we will establish a UX strategy and plan of execution that includes user research and user testing.
To ensure that the products that we create are truly relevant to our users, we conduct user research to understand users' characteristics, goals, behaviors, challenges, and pain points. After we identify the problems through observation, task analysis, and other feedback methodologies, design solutions are prototyped and then tested with the represented user groups.
A usability test is used to evaluate how easy a website or application is to use. The tests generally take place in a usability lab, where we put the represented users in front of the computer to complete a series of tasks. The session is often moderated. It's done to test the process of new features, products, or applications during the wireframe/design process in early development until a product is released.
Branding, Style Guide and Components
A design system is a library of tools that unifies the look and feel of a digital landscape and can be assembled in various combinations to build applications, websites, and other digital products.
This is currently being developed. We are planning to launch the design system in February 2020.
Refer to content strategy for more info on headings, institutional names, affiliations and academic titles, acronyms, and a writing style guide.