Many software programs provide access to—and let users work with—large amounts of information. In addition to interactions that allow users to create, edit, and expand massive data sets, these information-rich applications must also support effective data interpretation.
Data monitoring, reporting, and modeling applications require people to make sense of large amounts of information quickly and easily. It should come as no surprise, then, that for such applications many interface design problems are actually information design problems. As a result, we can leverage information design solutions when tackling such problems. Using small multiples is one such solution.
“Small multiple designs are graphical depictions of variable information that share context, but not content.”—Edward Tufte
As enablers of online conversations between businesses and customers, Web forms are often responsible for gathering critical information—email addresses for continued communications, mailing addresses for product shipments, and billing information for payment processing to name just a few. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that one of the most common questions I get asked about Web form design is: “How do I deal with international addresses?”
But before we get into the nuances of address variations, it’s worth pointing out that addresses have a commonly understood structure. Through years of experience with mailing and postal systems, people have a pretty concrete idea of what constitutes an address block. This common understanding is so definitive that eyetracking data suggests, once people begin filling in a set of input fields that make up an address, they often cease looking at their labels. The basic structure of an address is so familiar, people don’t need the guidance labels provide. Read More
Please note that our ad-hoc test setup didn’t resemble real-world conditions. Since I had to properly measure saccadic activity and saccades times, I had to eliminate all elements that would force users to visually browse through the pages we used during testing.
We based our test setup on Luke Wroblewski’s article “Web Application Form Design.” Luke provided valuable insights and feedback during both our test preparation and results analysis. Thank you, Luke! Thus, we were able to subject Luke’s theories to usability testing and enrich them through the power of numeric data. Read More