Common Usability Problems


Recognition is always better than Recall
Your product should promote recognition from your users whenever possible. Recognition reduces cognitive load and can help them remember more easily the action or item they need. This can be done with various design techniques such as dropdowns, check boxes, etc.

Technical Terminology
A vital step in creating usable products is to use language your audience will understand. Too often technical jargon is used to describe a process or piece of data without regard for the novice users.

Dashboard Design

Cluttered Dashboard
When creating an informational dashboard, it is easy to overload it with data. Dashboards are meant to provide users with a quick overview of important information and easily direct them where to go for a more in-depth look. Including too much data on this page will be overwhelming for the user and increase the effort and time needed to find the desired information. Dashboards should aim for minimalism and simplicity.

Simple informational dashboard

You can get a feel for this by looking at old control rooms in comparison to newer, modern control rooms. Replacing buttons and switches with clean, simplistic visualizations increases usability and decreases human error.

Older control room; combination of buttons and displays

Modern control room; only visual displays

Too Many Colors
Color choices are vital to the successful of your dashboard. By choosing one or two accent colors and keep existing color associations in mind, the dashboard will remain simplistic and easy for users to follow. For example, green and red together should be used to show good or bad results or messages due to their existing connotation.

Human Error

Although these are not design flaws, human error must be considered when designing an interface. The list below consists of common human and environmental factors that can result in human error. See Case Studies for examples where these factors cause disasters. Attempts should be made to help combat and diminish the following:

A main cause of human error is when users are inexperienced with the system or product. Many times this is due to a lack of in-depth training or simply being new to the product. The importance of training and/or user friendly training manuals is incomparable.

Poor system or product design can lead to user confusion. Confusion can be very frustrating and stressful for users and cause them to make errors when trying to complete tasks.

Whether stress is from the system/product itself or the environment the user is in, it impacts the decision-making process. Under high stress scenarios, users may make rushed or careless decisions if they can’t find what they need.

Fatigue could impact certain audiences more than others. Audiences such as pilots, shift workers, etc. could suffer from sleep debt on a regular basis and must be accounted for in design. Fatigue decreases cognitive awareness and can lead to many user errors.

Users can become overconfident or bored when completing repetitive tasks, thus leading to a high possibility of error.