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iPad Usability Study Touches Tablet/Slate Interaction Challenges

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We’ve heard reports and some grumblings about the inconsistency that users face when using apps on the iPad. Essentially apps (and of course their developers) have their own way of thinking how a user wants to interact with them and there isn’t really a consistent approach to how controls and functions work from one app to the next.

On Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox there is a usability study that touches on some of these inconsistency with the touch UI that, while addressing the iPad specifically, is something that I think all Tablet/Slate makers should be paying attention to. The study cautions that the findings are only preliminary, but it does bring up some good points. One that I find intriguing is that in testing the USA Today app none of the users realized that touching the logo in the app brought up a navigation menu. I’d be in that camp. Though I don’t use that app often, I never realized that was the case either.

What you’ll find on the site looks to be a summary and there’s a larger download of the study available as well.

Warner Crocker is a professional theatre director, producer and playwright and also a Tablet PC enthusiast. He is also a Microsoft MVP for Tablet PCs. Send email to Warner. You can follow him on Twitter or Google+

4 Comments

  1. Charles

    05/11/2010 at 8:40 am

    That was an interesting read. Thanks for pointing it out.

  2. GoodThings2Life

    05/11/2010 at 9:30 am

    You mean… Ellen was right?!

  3. acerbic

    05/11/2010 at 11:12 am

    So, what about all those billions of glowing reviews adoring Steve Jobs’ benevolent dictatorship as necessary to keep user experience consistent and declaring the iFad the pinnacle of intuitive usability that enables every 3 year old to solve nuclear physics equations and compose symphonies…?

  4. Brett Gilbertson

    05/11/2010 at 4:26 pm

    You beat me too this one Warner, good spot. I spent about 5 minutes trying to figure out how to change my user account in tweetdeck yesterday. I was trying to click on the little blue arrow on the settings menu, but it turns out that is the only part of the menu that is not clickable…

    Jacob is right, iPad is like the wild west of UI at the moment. Completely lawless… It will take quite a few years to develop accepted standards.

    Having said that, I find exactly the same problem on the iPhone, there is no consistent UI standard, and that actually makes these products much harder to use than it should be. They are appealing though and i think that keeps people engaged (maybe it’s the hypnosis kicking in).

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