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Usability and Nielsen Heuristics

It is not all about creating a user interface. Has your interface design passed Nielsen Ten Usability Heuristics.

Find below the Nielsen Ten Usability Heuristics

1. Visibility of system status
The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback
within reasonable time.
2. Match between system and the real world
The system should speak the users’ language, with words, phrases and concepts familiar to the user,
rather than system-oriented terms. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a
natural and logical order.
3. User control and freedom
Users often choose system functions by mistake and will need a clearly marked “emergency exit” to
leave the unwanted state without having to go through an extended dialogue. Support undo and redo.
4. Consistency and standards
Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing.
Follow platform conventions.
5. Error prevention
Even better than good error messages is a careful design which prevents a problem from occurring in
the first place.
6. Recognition rather than recall
Make objects, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from
one part of the dialogue to another. Instructions for use of the system should be visible or easily
retrievable whenever appropriate.
7. Flexibility and efficiency of use
Accelerators — unseen by the novice user — may often speed up the interaction for the expert user
such that the system can cater to both inexperienced and experienced users. Allow users to tailor
frequent actions.
8. Aesthetic and minimalist design
Dialogues should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of
information in a dialogue competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative
9. Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors
Error messages should be expressed in plain language (no codes), precisely indicate the problem, and
constructively suggest a solution.
10.Help and documentation
Even though it is better if the system can be used without documentation, it may be necessary to
provide help and documentation. Any such information should be easy to search, focused on the user’s
task, list concrete steps to be carried out, and not be too large.

My First Computer Programme

Like most of my classmates at that time, I dabbled into computer science thinking it was all about using the computer to do fancy stuff like designing fliers, typing documents and carrying out other application-related tasks. Truth is, till today, over 80% of students who gain admission to study computer science have little or no idea of what that career is all about. They all have faulty impressions about the course, some forced down by their equally ignorant parents, others suggested by tertiary institutions as a result of one deficiency in pre-admission  requirements or the other.

Well, I was as enthusiastic as I could be, expecting that I’ll outshine my other colleagues in everything because I had gotten years of experience as a graphic designer, desktop publisher and typist of a pretty good speed. Imagine my surprise when I was faced with unimaginable courses like statistics and probability, calculus and the most annoying, basic programming. What the heck was algorithms and high level languages? Worse still, I had lecturers who either didn’t care about what I understood or didn’t understand, or they simply assumed I was supposed to understand. One was even bold enough to just speak my thoughts out loud when he said “if you thought computer science is all about typing with the computer,  then you’re in the wrong department ladies and gentlemen. I would recommend secretarial studies ”

To be continued.