Web: Ergonomics and User Experience Significance

Posted by Hélène Sirois, Osmosia Multimédia 19-12-2019 11:28 AM

Along with the digital revolution, web users changed both their behaviour and their buying habits.

The Big Four tech companies, or GAFA, are the main driving force behind this transformation:

  • Google, as the most widely used search engine of the world;
  • Amazon, because of its ability to understand consumers’ habits;
  • Facebook, the network of choice for sharing and getting information, and some say it has become customer service’s first line;
  • Apple, who launched the iPhone, which deeply transformed how we communicate and get information.

Some web trends for 2019:

  • 6 billion smartphones used worldwide. *
  • 45% of online purchases on a mobile device by 2020. **
  • 80% of consumers will research online before making a purchase.
  • 6 billion search queries on Google every single day. ***

This shift to digital platforms, and the web trends just mentioned, means that businesses are asking themselves about best practices for designing communication tools and for reaching their target market.

In light of this, once the target has been investigated, ergonomics and user experience (UX) are an asset in terms of standing out from the competition. 

To avoid mistakes, one can reach out to an ergonomics and UX specialist, who will help integrate Jacob Nielsen’s 10 usability principles. Nielsen, an expert in computer ergonomics and usability, published these principles in 1990.

These 10 principles are rooted in four attributes: learning, efficiency, error management and user satisfaction.

What are the principles? ****

1. Visibility of system status
The user should always know what is going on with the system. It should inform the user on the actions performed. For instance, a status bar, a button changing colour, a loading icon, a “Message sent” confirmation, etc.

2. Match between system and the real world
A simple language and graphic symbols close to real-world actions should be used. The trash bin and the shopping cart icons are good examples. These are not physical objects, but everybody can understand the action represented.

3. User control and freedom
The user should be able to undo involuntary actions. For instance, when we close an unsaved file, we get a prompt to save it.

4. Consistency and standards
Consistency is crucial for understanding. A “Submit” button must be identical for all pages. The spaces on the page should also be standardized and categorized. To simplify this process, the system should follow the most widespread standards of the industry. For instance, the graphic representation of a menu on a mobile device is the “hamburger,” an icon consisting of three little horizontal bars on the right corner.

5. Error prevention
The system should anticipate when the user can make mistakes. It should provide clear information about these mistakes. In a form, if a user uses the wrong format to enter data, it should show them how to correct it before they click on “Send.” Google Search is mastering this principle: if one enters a misspelled word, it shows the corrected word as well.

6. Recognition rather than recall
It is easier to show the user option than to ask them to think about options and write them down. A good interface is intuitive, easy to read, and easy to navigate.

7. Flexibility and efficiency of use
A good interface is appropriate for all users, beginners or experts. It should provide advanced options for the experts and simplified ones for the beginners.

8. Aesthetic and minimalist design
There is a 5 to 8 seconds window to convince a user to stay on any given page. Each information provided in the interface should be useful and correspond to the page’s aim. Any unnecessary element that could complexify reading should be removed.

9. Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors
When an error occurs, clear messages should be provided to help the user quickly correct the situation. Codes like “Error 2000-10cde” should be avoided.

10. Help and documentation
Users never reach out for help until they need it… All interfaces should provide help, either as a FAQ, a form, or issue-based. 

To sum up, these best practices, that reflect common sense, will help you reach your objectives, set your target, and meet it.