Learn

Wow! We’ve already explored over half of the ten usability heuristics. Let’s dive into two more heuristics that explore the following questions:

  • How can the design support users with different levels of expertise?
  • What elements should be included in the interface?

Flexibility and Efficiency of Use

The seventh usability heuristic is flexibility and efficiency of use: The design should offer shortcuts so that expert users can speed up interactions or customize frequent actions. These shortcuts may be hidden from less experienced users.

Each user operates in a specific context that includes factors such as expertise, frequency of use, and desired outcomes. We want to create products that can be used efficiently in these different contexts.

We can design interfaces that allow flexibility by including shortcuts, personalization, and customizations. For example, design software like Figma provides the option to use keyboard shortcuts. If we rarely use the software, these shortcuts may be unnecessary. However, if we use the software regularly, the shortcuts can save us a lot of time and effort.

We can see an example of customization in the Forum section of Codecademy’s website.

If you frequently use the forum, customizing your feed can provide a more efficient experience.

Screenshot from the Forum section of the Codecademy website. In the account settings, there’s an option to customize the tags. Adding tags to a category like “watched” ensures that relevant tags will appear on the feed. Muting tags will hide any topics that are not relevant.

You can adjust these settings by adding relevant tags to the “Watched” and “Tracked” categories. That way, you won’t miss any posts with these tags. Additionally, you can mute tags for topics that are not relevant, so they don’t take up space on your feed.

Aesthetic and Minimalist Design

The eighth usability heuristic is aesthetic and minimalist design: The design should not include information that is irrelevant or rarely needed. Any extraneous details compete with the relevant and necessary details.

Using a minimalist design does not mean that the interface must use a particular artistic visual style! The focus of this heuristic is to be intentional about the details that are included on the interface. We want to make sure that everything is connected to the user’s primary needs and goals. Any unneeded information adds friction and increases the user’s cognitive load.

An example of minimalist design can be found on Codecademy’s Help Center. When users access the Help Center, they have a problem that they need to solve. All details on this page align with that goal.

Screenshot of Codecademy’s Help Center web page. This page is an example of minimalist design. All information connects to the user’s goal of seeking help. Options such as the “Contact Us” button, search bar, and featured articles provide ways for the user to complete their goal.

Users can select the “Contact us” button to access a chatbot, type their issue into the search bar, or browse articles that discuss solutions to different problems. No unnecessary details crowd the page or distract the user from seeking help.

Instructions

On the right, review the wireframes and read the descriptions. Determine which usability heuristic each design is breaking.

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