iPad Usability: 10 Things You Need To Know from the Nielson Report


The guru of web usability – Jakob Nielson – has turned his probing tactics to the iPad once again and done a deep report into how people use it and what apps and websites work well on the ‘Pad, and why.

The report tested 26 iPad apps and 6 websites and examined closely how its core 16 testers actually interacted with the device. It’s a must read for anyone in the business of making iPad apps or websites – and is available for free download here.

We’ve done a quick 10 point digest:

1) Websites often work better on iPads than iPad apps

2) Websites seemed to offer a better user-experience than the current crop of iPad apps for two reasons:
– The apps contained less content than the websites.
– The app design was confusing or the app made the user work more.

3) Buttons are often too small. What Nielson calls a “Read-tap asymmetry” is a particular problem on websites, which means that at a level where content was large enough to read, buttons were too small to tap. Buttons should be 1cm-by-1cm on apps

4) When to choose an app rather than a site: If your service requires substantial interaction. It’s easy enough to use a website to read text, navigate around and watch video. More complicated stuff like entering text, making bookings would be better done on an app.

5) Don’t forget the back button! This can lead to real confusion and frustration.

6) Headlines are important on iPad magazines apparently users spend a lot of time browsing headlines and will only read a few stories. So it’s worth forefronting a list of headlines to navigate in the design of your mag.

7) Users don’t like typing on iPad. iPad really is a sit-back experience. People use it to consume content on it – videos or text – with email being a “slight exception”. It seemed users would actually avoid things that involved typing, like registration processes.

8) NO SPLASH SCREENS – let the user go straight into the site/app. Splashes get tired very quickly.

9) Too much navigation: the flipside of not being able to work out where you are is having too many buttons. Nielson singles out content popovers as being unnecessary and off-putting to the viewer.

10) iPads are shared devices – design apps for multiple users.

[via ReadWriteWeb]
Anna Leach