In a research report published today entitled “Usability of iPad Apps and Websites. First Research Findings”, usability expert Jakob Nielsen looks at the usability of 34 iPad apps. He found that while the first generation of iPad apps are certainly regarded as “beautiful” by users, many users were also frustrated by trying to figure out where to touch in order to interact with them. “It’s the Wild West all over again in interaction design,” said Nielsen, principal of Nielsen Norman Group. “We’re seeing the same thing we saw 17 years ago in Web design when anything a designer could draw could be a user interface whether it made sense or not. That’s what’s happening with iPad apps. Anything you can show and touch can be a user interface on this device. There are no standards or expectations, and users just don’t know what to do, or even what options exist.”
Illustrating the problem of inconsistent interaction design, Nielsen Norman Group found that when study participants touched a picture or image, such as a logo, any of the following five results could happen in different iPad apps: nothing; the picture enlarges; it hyperlinks to a page with more detail; it flips over to reveal more pictures; or a set of navigation choices pops up.
The study found that user confusion was made even worse by the fact that the user interfaces on iPad apps are mostly hidden, which results in frequent accidental activations when touched by mistake. People also didn’t know how to revert to the previous state because there is no consistent “undo” feature like the Web’s “Back” button.
Study participants in Nielsen Norman Group’s research were observed interacting with 34 iPad apps, and in some cases with their related websites. Apps and sites such as AP News, Time Magazine, USA Today, ESPN.com, MLB and Nike.com were included in the study.
By Maura Sutton iPadForums.net
Source: Usability of iPad Apps and Websites: First Research Findings