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Visual Design 7 Summary: To ensure that people understand the meaning and purpose of icons, conduct multiple types of tests at various stages of the product-development cycle.
Designers often rely on icons to save space and to take advantage of the speedy recognition of visuals. With increasing popularity of small-display devices — smartphones, wearables, and so on — the use of icons has likewise increased.
But, how usable are these icons? The only way to know whether a particular icon will work is to test it with users.
Different testing methods address different aspects of icon usability. But what makes an icon usable? Here are 4 quality criteria for icons: Can people find the icon on the page? Do people understand what the icon represents? Can users correctly guess what will happen once they interact with the icon?
Is the icon aesthetically pleasing? All of these issues will be critical for the success of the final design, but must be considered separately to determine how to improve an icon.
Methods for Icon Testing There are several techniques for evaluating icon designs, and which one you use will depend on your goals and on your stage of design. The methods can be separated into 2 main categories: More importantly, however, is choosing a method based on what you need to learn in order to move forward with your design confidently.
Keep in mind that, even with methods where the icon is presented out of context, your test participants should always be part of the intended target audience and thus familiar with the overall industry and with relevant concepts. Findability Methods To gauge findability, icons must be shown in their native habitat — in the context of the full interface.
In-context testing can help you determine if multiple icons appear too similar and users will have a difficult time distinguishing among them, or if the icon is hidden under a false floor or in an ad-rich area and is thus overlooked.
Time-to-locate tests are the best measurement of whether or not users can easily find an icon or some other interface element among the crowd of the full design. In these tests, participants must click or tap the UI element to achieve a given task.
Measure how long it takes people to successfully select the correct icon, as well as the rate of first-click selections that is, how often their first click is on the right icon: Recognition Methods Testing for recognition is best done out-of-context: Users presented with an icon must guess what that icon symbolizes.
In some ways, this is the icon version of a Rorschach inkblot test. The purpose of this test is to make sure that icons are recognizable, and that people can easily deduce the object that it depicts. If you know that your icon will be accompanied by text, you may think that it would be reasonable to show users the label and ask them to select the icon that best represents that label among several possible options.
This testing method therefore only makes sense in cases where users would somehow already know to look for a particular functionality within an interface, and are simply trying to locate a matching graphical representation which is not a common circumstance.
Information-Scent Methods What matters in the end is not only whether users can recognize what real object the icon resemblesbut also if they can infer what functionality that icon may stand for.
The same out-of-context testing method used to assess recognition can also be applied to judge information scent. However, rather than simply asking people what the icon may represent, instead ask what they would expect to happen if they selected that icon.
Unlike for recognition tests, you should provide some minimal contextual information about the type of system where that icon will appear.
For instance, study participants may be told that a suitcase icon is part of an e-commerce website and asked to guess what the icon may denote in the context of that type of website.
Note however that no specific information about what that website may look like, nor any hints to possible functionality are actually provided to the users.
Measure any difference in interaction rates between versions of the icon, as well as whether users click on the icon and go back to the original page very quickly. This behavior is called probing, and usually is a signal of poor information scent; it indicates that users were disappointed in the content behind the icon and hence returned to the prior page.
Be sure to maintain the same position and label for the icons when testing for the optimal graphic, to make sure that no other variable produced the change in user behavior.
Attractiveness Methods Besides testing for recognition, icons should also be tested for attractiveness, both individually and as part of an icon family.
One of the common reasons to use icons in the first place is to add visual appeal to a design, but not all icons are equally good-looking.
The simplest attractiveness test is to ask people to score each icon on a 1—7 scale. If you have alternative designs of the same icon, you can also ask people to pick the most attractive from each set of alternatives and explain why they like or dislike particular images.
Finally, you can show people an entire icon family and ask them to pick out the one they like the best and the least. This last test can help you avoid the common problem where most of your icons are fine, but there are one or two less attractive ones that require a do-over to better match the aesthetic of the full design.Abstract.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) covers a wide range of recommendations for making Web content more accessible. Following these guidelines will make content accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities, including blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities.
3 This white paper discusses the salient features regarding the mechanics and finite element analysis (FEA) of elastomers. Although the main focus of the paper is. Abstract. The ubiquity of frustrating, unhelpful software interfaces has motivated decades of research into “Human-Computer Interaction.” In this paper, I suggest that the long-standing focus on “interaction” may be misguided.
I am the Chief Research Scientist for Cognadev, a UK and South African-based consultancy and test publisher specializing in the dynamic assessment of psychological attributes contributing to cognitive styles, learning styles, cognitive processing, cognitive potential, motivation, goals, interests, and values.
To ensure that people understand the meaning and purpose of icons, conduct multiple types of tests at various stages of the product-development cycle. What is FormFlow? Using pen to fill paper forms is a natural user interface for many applications.
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