The User-Friendly Experience

written by Anna Sauer | May 29th, 2024


Push or Pull?

Have you ever pulled on a door when you were actually supposed to push it? You are not the only person this has ever happened to. This phenomenon is indeed so common that it even has a name: “Norman Doors” – named after the usability expert Donald Norman1.

So, why does this happen so often? Visual aids such as signs or symbols at such doors are oftentimes confusing. The users often have to end up guessing whether they need to push or pull. This leads to frustration and is the ideal example for poor usability in the “real” world.

What Exactly is Meant by Usability?

Usability refers to user-friendliness. We encounter it when we use doors, coffee makers and cooktops (ever turn up the wrong button, anyone). We also come across usability in the digital world. How do we find our way a website or an app? The quicker we get the gist of new interfaces, the better the usability.

Great usability does not stand out, it just feels “natural”. We usually only realize once it is not present that something is amiss, and that usage is tedious. When developing software, it is important to keep usability in mind, so that users intuitively know what to do.

The Difference between Usability and User Experience

You surely have come across the term “user experience” (UX). Usability and UX are often used in equal context because their objectives are quite similar. Yet, the most profound difference is that UX refers to the entire experience with a product (including emotions and connotations) whereas usability focuses on the intuitive and effortless use of a product. Both concepts are of importance but in this blog post, we will only take a closer look at usability.

Software should be intuitive and effortless. That sounds like a benefit to the user. Yet, how can this be achieved?

Many specialized books and articles as well as results of research provide a good overview.

A good starting point are the 10 Usability Heuristics by Jakob Nielsen2:


 1. Visibility of the system status

The user should always know where he / she is and what is currently happening. The system should give feedback.

 2. Match between the system and the real world

System and user should speak the same (specialized) language. Terminology, symbols and concepts in the user interface feels more familiar.

 3. User control and freedom

Users need an emergency exit. It should be possible to undo actions and to cancel processes.

 4. Consistency and standards

Elements such as buttons, menu structure and symbols should be designed in a consistent manner to correspond with norms and standards. Expectations will be met and navigation will be easier for the user.

 5. Error prevention

The system should be designed in a way that the user can easily prevent errors. Clear instructions and friendly warnings provide assistance.

 6. Recognition rather than recall

Important information, options and functions should be visible and easily accessible.

 7. Flexibility and efficiency of use

The system should provide different options for the use. Beginners as well as experts should feel equally comfortable. There may be hidden shortcuts for the experienced user which do not confuse the beginner.

 8. Minimalistic design

The user interface should be clearly structured and easy to use. Which information can be left out and how can the focus be placed on important matters?

 9. Detect and correct errors

Error notifications should be concise, clear and provide helpful assistance.

 10. Help and documentation

Some form of documentation is usually required. It should be easily accessible and easy to understand.

These heuristics are a good basis to develop user-friendly software. This alone is not quite sufficient, however. To guarantee true "usability", the product needs to be tested by real users.

There are various methods, known as "usability tests".

Here are some examples:

  • Moderated usability tests: The designer leads the user through the product. Users get tasks to move through certain scenarios and answer the questions of the designer.
  • Without moderator: Users work through the tasks independently and take notes on their experience while using the product.
  • Prototype tests: Users click their way through interactive prototypes and give feedback before the actual product is developed. This method avoids errors in the finished product.
  • Eye-tracking tests: These tests track the eye movement of the user. It provides valuable insight whether important information is positioned at the right spot of a website.

What Usability Tests does innovaphone Perform?

Transparency is important to all of us at innovaphone. In order to test our ideas at an early stage, we rely on our Connect App.

The Connect App is a digital collaboration platform for modern business communications. We use it as a digital blackboard, to share information, and as a tool to organize tasks and work flows. 

Proto types and surveys on products are quickly posted on the Connect App. Other colleagues from all departments are able to participate in the testing processes if they are interested. Everybody is welcome to actively share feedback. In return, we gain valuable insight. This feedback is important and prevents us from overlooking important aspects. Problems and issues can be eliminated at an early stage.

It does happen occasionally that problems with the usability are only noticed at a later point. The Connect App enables our colleagues to quickly contact us with feedback, even after the release. They can post screenshots and explain the issue.

We collect the feedback and implement a suitable solution. The product undergoes continuous improvement, step by step. What’s great: Our colleagues are always happy if they can actively participate in enhancing the end product.



(1)    Intro to UX: the Norman door

(2)    Ten Usability Heuristics


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