UX Power Up: Discoverability


What is UX Discoverability?

UX Discoverability describes how users discover your features and functionality. Since most users ignore what’s in a design, how can you point out important content or features to your users? How can you help users discover that a feature even exists?

In this week’s UX Power Up, Frank covers discoverability, a problem that every design has to deal with. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! 

Transcript of Video Above

Hi, Frank Spillers, founder of Experience Dynamics, and it’s time for this week’s UX Power Up.

Today we’re talking about the topic of Discoverability.  Just like the way the word sounds, it’s how able your users are to discover: content, features, functionality, and even the controls as they go through and use your website or web application.

The reason that this is important, is that users just don’t “do” discoverability, unless they are really young – children have more discoverability behavior.  Elderly users have less discoverability behavior.  But generally, most users just don’t go and look for stuff.  They just wander through websites or designs, and if it’s not there, they don’t see it.   So discoverability is a way to address this problem.  

Hover to Discover

We’re going to look at two techniques.  The first one is called “Hover to Discover”.  Hover to discover is a way to let users get information just in time as they are going through a design.  So they have, for example, a piece of content and some controls, and they might hover their mouse over – so they mouse over – and they get a little dialog that gives them more information.. maybe it’s even got some controls, some search forms or whatever the case may be.  So not just information, but it could be functionality as well.  That’s the first technique.

Push Dialog

The 2nd, is what we call the “Push Dialog.” Now, the push dialog is similar to the hover to discover dialog, only as the terms suggests, you’re pushing it on the users.  So, you’re forcing them to actually interact or look at the content.  So you might have a toolbar, or you might have a piece of content that you want users to actually get engaged with, and so you push that at them, and they have to close it – or they could go to the next tip, as an option, for example.  Sites like:  Google, Twitter, Kayak… used the top two discoverability techniques in their early days and had a lot of success getting over that issue of ‘How do you get people to look at stuff?’

So these two techniques are staples of web applications and websites – and in the mobile analog – it would be tap states, so the hover to discover would be a tap to discover and then you’d get the dialog.  The push dialog, would be something that just comes at them, more like in the case of a pop-up window.

Using these two techniques, you can increase your discoverability.  They are subtle, they seem like something that’s easily missed, but they are so important to increasing discoverability, that they’re – to me – an absolute must on website, web application and mobile design, as we move into the future of greater discoverability.  

Thanks so much for joining me and we’ll see you next time.

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