Part TwoElegance and Clarity

The next five chapters deal with psychological parameters. Assuming that everything actually works as it should in physical terms, your job now is to make sure that things do what people expect them to do.

The trick is to avoid surprising people. In the usability business, surprises are almost always negative, “Ooh. Why did it do that?” or “Where did that come from?” or “Everything was going so well. But what am I supposed to do now?”

Service-design folks will preach to you about the glories of helping your customers embark on “a journey of discovery.” And a “discovery” is good—but very different from a “surprise.” Discovery generally represents an added bonus, often in the form of new information. But a surprise usually causes a change in perception toward something that you already thought you had figured out. Hence, surprises can be disconcerting.

What’s in this part?

We’ll be examining the following aspects of “elegance and clarity”:

  • Visible (I can actually see stuff)
  • Understandable (I know what I’m looking at and get how it works)
  • Logical (the stuff I see and the procedures I am asked to follow make sense)
  • Consistent (the rules of the game won’t change on me unexpectedly)
  • Predictable (when I do something, I have a clear idea what’s going to happen next)

As you’ve probably figured out by now, a lot of usability issues are relevant in more than one category. For example, if something strikes you as illogical, then it probably isn’t particularly ...

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