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Impact - A Blog by INM

World Usability Day 2015 - The Year of Innovation

November 12, 2015 by Vahe Kassardjian

At INM, we've been designing experiences since Day 1(*).  We've been part of the various incarnations of UX Design through the years. Today, on World Usability Day 2015, we thought we'd share the trends we (finally) see adopted in of 2015.

Simplicity matters: sometimes, you have to work hard to conceal complexity and reduce cognitive overload. A few years ago, as display technologies suddenly got better, (e.g. introduction of Retina displays), complex designs multiplied and negatively impacted usability. Luckily, it appears that times are changing and clarity and simplicity are getting the upper hand on bells and whistles.

Micro-interactions matter: once only limited to real applications (plain HTML does not support micro-interactions), today instantaneous and subtle cues are important to guide users in their interaction with an app or a website.

Aesthetics vs. Functionality: it's not one or the other.  You need both, in a balanced way.
When in doubt, usability (Function) wins over creativity (Form). The challenge is to design systems that remain usable as they evolve.

Inclusion: Usability is not only about allowing fully enabled users to efficiently engage with your
apps and sites. It is also about allowing challenged users to get the most out of their experience despite their (temporary or permanent) disabilities. Many legislative bodies (WCAG, AODA, SGQRI-008, etc.) impose regulations to ensure compliance, but the best usability designs are based on a deep understanding of users needs and not about achieving accessibility standards.

Begin with the End in Mind: A few years back, testing for usability simply meant collecting expert opinions (also known as heuristic evaluation). Then, scientific methods were adopted: definition of an experiment, recruitment of sample users, double-blind experiments, etc. Though very valuable, these methods are often too expensive and poorly adapted to the evolution of software. An increasingly popular method is to begin with business metrics, architect a project accordingly, measure often, and improve often using real-time measurements, and not experimental samples.

 (*): Yes, going all the way back to Hypercard

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