Put Your Hands Up To Test Usability

Touchscreen interfaces would be easier to use if we designed them with finger paints. We stop “designing” this way the day we graduate from kindergarten, but think about it. Can you be sure a button will be large enough for a user to push? Will her hand cover up anything important? We wouldn’t need to ask questions like these if we had designed the touchscreen with finger paints. It would be self-evident.

Put Your Hands Up

Of course, we don’t design with finger paints… but we do still have fingers. Put your hands up to truly test your interface design. The earlier in the design process the better. Pay special attention if your hand would obscure the results of touching a button — menus, status bar changes, page redraws, etc. Major action buttons are best placed at the bottom of the screen, with their results positioned directly above the point of action.

It must be true. Everything you need to know, you really did learn in kindergarten.

  1. Nice concise post.

    This has to be one of the major things that gets on my nerves when I see a touch interface design that was obviously wire-framed with a mouse and keyboard guy/girl. The other thing to watch out for is the different visual obfuscation and physical barriers (when placing targets towards the edge of an interface) experienced by left and right handed users.

  2. In my opinion, the iPad will begin a fundamental shift in how we interact with media and everyday productivity tasks.

  3. Great article. Your screenshots are perfect for illustrating how a seemingly minor issue of top vs bottom bar can make a world of difference. I have always been a fan of the “bottom bar” horizontal navigation menu. It has always felt natural to me. I think it comes from driving a car. All of the controls are low and out of your line of sight and the “screen” (windshield) is unobstructed so that you can see what you are doing.

    Am i the only one whos craving a glass full of crushed ice? Maybe a snow cone? What else can that machine do? 🙂

  4. I don’t use popup windows bedded from the one pressed, but rather side animation of sub page buttons, but this is very true about the practical designs behind GUI…

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