Top Ten Problems with Web Application UsabilitySubmitted by admin on Fri, 01/02/2004 - 05:32 Posted in
Here are some of the top recurring web application usability issues we found from some recent usability research conducted on web applications.
1. Forms that do not auto-populate. Form fields are a typical design element used in registering or searching, for example. (To maximize usability, forms scripting should be programmed correctly to reduce user workload). Forms forcing users to enter redundant information across multiple screens, adds extra effort and may increase process frustration. Forms should also preserve user data across screens in order to adjust data with "Back button" actions.
2. Controls missing consistent logic. Again, scripting forms correctly is important. Dropdown menus that auto-populate a field, such as State/Province, on one page and then do not have the auto-populate function with the same functionality found elsewhere, keep users on their toes (and undermine any perceived usefulness gained from auto-populating).
3. Information requested but not justified. Unnecessary information is perceived as intrusive and annoying, unless rewarded by a motivating gain. Personal information requested or an excessive amount of personal information collected bogs down the process and may be the source of "conversion leakage".
4. Making analysis difficult. Web applications typically provide three main actions: Registration, Add or Create new Data, Review or Change Data.Tables that are hard to interpret or read, interaction that is nested between screens and all "data" and "no information" can reduce the usefulness of the overall application.
5. Failing to offer useful Help. Web applications that require intense studying or involve complex rules or interpretation tend to bog down ease of understanding. Offer a "What is this?" link or describe the purpose of a form in the right hand area (see Yahoo Briefcase sign up process).
6. Forcing lengthy registrations. Registration that requires 8-10 steps will lead to poor registration conversion. Legal agreements do not have to take up multiple pages or multiple pages of text to read.
7. Having unwarned time outs. Ending sessions after 15 minutes without any warning can lead to confusion, anger and annoyance. Offer time out warnings (pop ups).
8. Unhelpful login. Log-in seems to be one of those "necessary evil" on the web. Log-ins that require numeric characters without notice or do not show examples of "username" at log-in are frustrating and can reduce the reuse of a web based application. This goes to say that "forgot your password?" should include any and all log-in screens.
9. Configuring settings and preferences. Forcing users to configure access to a web application without explaining the process involved can add extra effort and increase perceived complexity of the web application.
10. Misrepresenting the user's task with your features. Getting users to jump through hoops to get their work done based on the way you've built the application, not how users want and need it, is probably the single biggest opportunity for improvement.
Note: Specific examples above are taken from research based on Experience Dynamics expert Usability Reviews of web application dashboards including two popular search engine ad applications, two popular web analytics web applications and several email marketing applications.