I have a quite hard task right now:
I need to explain agencies and graphic designers, how to design a usable website concept and visual design.
The goal is to give designers a workbook/tips&tricks/FAQ/guideline for make their design drafts quite usable before it will be tested with users somewhen – a sort of quality check. In order to avoid multiple redesign iterations. It is not intended for usability specialists like UX-, IA- or IX-designers, but graphic or general designers.
There are guidelines for good usability like Nielsens heuristics or ISO standard 9241-12 and 9241-110, but its still relies on experience with usability. Or in “usability-words”, it lacks of self descriptiveness. It is not clear for a designer what these guidelines mean. Actually, they are like the Gestalt principles. Even if you, as a non-designer, know the Gestalt principles, you won’t know how to achieve good graphics.
There are checklists floating in the net for checking a website for good usability, but they are applied after the design, not while designing. I’d like to have a guide to keep in mind while designing, like having design principles in mind while painting.
Or in plain words:
I need to explain “how to achieve good usability” for designers.
Do you know a good reference or article tackling this task?
What do designers need to know about usability?
How can one explain the concepts behind usability easily?
I hope this question is not offtopic. I’m not asking it at UX.SE, because for this guys everything will be so cristal clear. It is hard for an expert to explain things for non-experts easily and understandable. You are the target group, that’s why I ask here.
This is just an idea, so it is not completely articulated.
Designers are used to working based on specs and under a tight set of restrictions. A good example is design work for the print industry. Artwork that is meant to be printed is created based on a set of well tried industry standards and project restrictions. The designer knows these restrictions beforehand and while they are creating the artwork. They know, for example, how many inks they can use before the budget breaks, how small the copy can be before the press would mess it up and render it illegible, how thin knockout lines can be before they get blotted, etc. A design that fails to meet these restrictions is considered unacceptable.
A good exercise would be to define the “web user” for (or together with) the designers. A web user is usually thought as a super human that can do anything a human can do, but that is inaccurate. A web user has a very small attention span, for example. It does not read sequentially, but it skims through the page. It has a minimum eye resolution. It has learned to ignore certain areas of the page or certain elements depending on how they look, etc.
The idea would be to think of the user as a machine that will consume the website (the same way the press will consume the artwork to produce a print) – sort of a robot with a set of skills and limitations – then to design websites having that user-machine in mind. The design would not be meant for humans but for the user-machine, with its tight set of skills and limitations.
Again, this is just a draft…