Usability Myths and Misconceptions

Summary: So much research. So many rules. So many misinformed clients and designers.

A growing issue in usability and UI design deals with the fact that there are so many different, conflicting usability studies and so-called UI standards that lead to many misinformed design decisions. It is important to know that, while some standards are true, not all can be applied to every unique project. The bottom line is that there is no “one size fits all” rule in usability. The best way to decide what is the best design decision is to research your designs and conduct tests with actual end users (period).

Some myths and misconceptions include:

  1. UI design is the graphics or aesthetic display of the interface.
  2. All users read left to right.
  3. Everything in the application should be no more than 3 clicks ways.
  4. Scrolling is bad.
  5. The design should always fill the screen – at any resolution.
  6. Drop down menus are bad.
  7. Links within the content are bad.
  8. Everyone knows the company logo always links home.
  9. The total page size should be less that 70K.
  10. Users will not wait more than 5 seconds for a page to load.
  11. Usability issues should be handled with user training and help documentation.
  12. Usability testing is a time-consuming and expensive effort.
  13. Changing a design from a previous version will confuse users (even if it’s easier).
  14. We don’t need a UI designer because we already have a UI Style Guide.
  15. What sells this software is its functionality – not its interface.
  16. Usability Tests and Focus Groups are the same things.
  17. QA/Testing, User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and Usability Testing are all the same thing.
  18. Client/Server application projects don’t need UI designers.

Feel free to leave a comment and add your own – I’m sure I missed a few hundred.


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