List of usability guidelines to check task orientation
- The site is free from irrelevant, unnecessary and distracting information.
- Excessive use of scripts, applets, movies, audio files, graphics and images has been avoided.
- The site avoids unnecessary registration.
- The critical path (e.g. purchase, subscription) is clear, with no distractions on route.
- Information is presented in a simple, natural and logical order.
- The number of screens required per task has been minimised.
- The site requires minimal scrolling and clicking.
- The site correctly anticipates and prompts for the user's probable next activity.
- When graphs are shown, users have access to the actual data (e.g. numeric annotation on bar charts).
- Activities allocated to the user or the computer take full advantage of the strengths of each (look for actions that can be done automatically by the site, e.g. postcode lookup).
- Users can complete common tasks quickly.
- Items can be compared easily when this is necessary for the task (e.g. product comparisons).
- The task sequence parallels the user's work processes.
- The site makes the user's work easier and quicker than without the system.
- The most important and frequently used topics, features and functions are close to the centre of the page, not in the far left or right margins.
- The user does not need to enter the same information more than once.
- Important, frequently needed topics and tasks are close to the 'surface' of the web site.
- Typing (e.g. during purchase) is kept to an absolute minimum, with accelerators ("one-click") for return users.
- The path for any given task is a reasonable length (2-5 clicks).
- When there are multiple steps in a task, the site displays all the steps that need to be completed and provides feedback on the user's current position in the workflow.
- Price is always clearly displayed next to any product.
- Users of the site do not need to remember information from place to place.
- The use of metaphors is easily understandable by the typical user.
- Data formats follow appropriate cultural conventions (e.g. miles for UK).
- Details of the software's internal workings are not exposed to the user.
- The site caters for users with little prior experience of the web.
- The site makes it easy for users to explore the site and try out different options before committing themselves.
- A typical first-time visitor can do the most common tasks without assistance.
- When they return to the site, users will remember how to carry out the key tasks.
- The functionality of novel device controls is obvious.
- On the basket page, there is a highly visible 'Proceed to checkout' button at the top and bottom of the page .
- Important calls to action, like 'Add to basket', are highly visible.
- Action buttons (such as "Submit") are always invoked by the user, not automatically invoked by the system when the last field is completed.
- Command and action items are presented as buttons (not, for example, as hypertext links).
- If the user is half-way through a transaction and quits, the user can later return to the site and continue from where he left off.
- When a page presents a lot of information, the user can sort and filter the information.
- If there is an image on a button or icon, it is relevant to the task.
- The site prompts the user before automatically logging off the user, and the time out is appropriate.
- Unwanted features (e.g. Flash animations) can be stopped or skipped.
- The site supports novice and expert users by providing different levels of explanation (e.g. in help and error messages).
- The site allows users to rename objects and actions in the interface (e.g. naming delivery addresses or accounts).
- The site allows the user to customise operational time parameters (e.g. time until automatic logout).
You can also download translated versions of this checklist.
How to use these guidelines
Work through each of the items in the list and mark your site as either conforming or not conforming to the guideline.
Remember that all guidelines are context specific. If you feel that a guideline does not apply to your site, it's OK to ignore it.
These guidelines are purposefully expressed as positive statements, so that when you feed the results back to the design team you can identify some strengths of the design before you launch into the problems.
About the author
Dr. David Travis (@userfocus on Twitter) is a User Experience Strategist. He has worked in the fields of human factors, usability and user experience since 1989 and has published two books on usability. David helps both large firms and start ups connect with their customers and bring business ideas to market. If you like his articles, why not join the thousands of other people taking his free online user experience course?