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Mia Worthington on intuitive User Interfaces
Published: 20 June 2018
Mia is a Product Manager at Highlight, she’s been with the company for over 3 years, initially as a Media Author, and is focused on continually improving users' experience of the Highlight product. We spoke to Mia to learn about her views on intuitive user interfaces.
Tell us a bit about what you do
With the product team, I help specify new features for Highlight after consultation with our partners and end users and then follow these features through development. During this process, I write about these features in release notes, product advisory notes, on the Highlight Help & Support Centre and when needed, create videos. I also demo new and upcoming features of the software to users, both internally and externally.
How is Highlight’s user interface unique?
Highlight’s concept, from the beginning, has been to deliver complex information to the user in a simple way through unique graphical heat tiles. Users of any varying technical ability can understand what is happening in their network at a glance. We’re focused on doing the hard work for the user and having an interface which requires minimal training. The help and support are always available from us if need be, but even with this, it’s never more complicated than necessary.
What’s the importance of creating an intuitive user interface?
A bit of background first – before joining Highlight, I was an IT trainer for many years. This taught me to sense the frustration users face when learning and using software. I began to recognise how much their experience mattered and how their mental model was aligned when it came to design.
When using a new piece of software, users are inclined to think ‘why do I need training?’ and they want the behaviour of the interface to match their expectation. If they’re in the situation where they have to go into problem-solving mode to work out the next step, you’ve created frustration and failed to provide excellent user experience. Our aim is to deliver a product which consistently delights users.
In the situation where a user interface isn’t 100% intuitive what should be done?
Training should be accessible readily and immediately, users don’t want to wait weeks taking courses in how to use software. Instead of overloading people with big chunks of information, creating bite-sized videos are the perfect way to go. Videos are engaging, and you can pause, rewind and replay them as well as view subtitles. Subtitles make videos much more accessible to a wider audience; in fact, statistics state that 85% of people on social media do not watch videos with sound, choosing to read off the screen instead. Meaning viewers get the message without actually having to listen to what you say.
The bottom line is that if you need to write paragraphs of text or spend a lot of time explaining a feature, you have to question whether you’ve designed your interface properly in the first place.
Strategically choosing where to place help resources whether it’s videos, text or graphic is another thing to carefully consider. You have to be in the mind of the user and understand where they would click for help. In Highlight we use something called Contextual Help which is dotted around the interface; these are snippets of text and video explaining certain features in a concise way, which have been placed bearing the user in mind. We pride ourselves on usability testing and ensuring that our users are always happy and satisfied with the product.
What’s Highlight’s process for usability testing?
We’re in a constant feedback loop with all of our users, mostly via our operations team. When a support request is closed, it's evaluated based on a few questions: 1. Was there anything in the product that could have avoided this problem? 2. Is it on the Highlight Help & Support Centre? 3. If no, can we do something in the product to address this?
When amending, designing and implementing features, we actively seek feedback from partners and users as well as carrying out usability testing, to see how users interact with the features on their first encounter. Involving our users as much as possible is critical because as we study them, we understand more and more about their situations and expectations of the product. We’re also very open to taking feature requests from our partners.
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