Main conference presentation

Checking the feel of your UI with an interaction audit

Peter Stahl, Josh Damon Williams

Monday April 14 2008, 2:00 - 2:45PM

What is your site’s “feel?” Is it smooth and consistent, or jagged and unpredictable? Do links always navigate, or do they sometimes pop up overlays, change state, or pull down a menu? How many ways can users make an exclusive choice or disclose hidden content? The modern Web supports a dizzying variety of possibilities, but that doesn’t mean you should offer all of them.

In this presentation we’ll show how to evaluate the consistency of your site’s “feel.” Using a recent audit of the interaction design of a major Web site as an example—an audit of the site’s “feel”—we’ll discuss how to collect and catalog the variety of interactions users encounter. The methodology includes taking inventory of visual cue meanings/behaviors, task flows, and data representations. These findings are used to evaluate the “feel” of portions of the user experience, pointing up jagged discontinuities and unpredictable behaviors as well as smooth transitions and consistent affordances, paths and representations.

This audit can determine if a site’s interactions are consistent, and if the site’s “feel” aligns with organizational values. We’ll round up our case study’s key findings, and discuss future extensions of the audit, including development of design patterns and values, and objective and subjective metrics for measuring the “feel” of a user experience.

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