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In the industry, there are few standard checklists on how to make a web application more :

  1. Scalable
  2. Easy to understand/maintain
  3. Perform better
  4. Robust

etc. etc.

Are there any standard checklists for how to make an app more 'intuitive'? This of course will differ from app to app...but I am sure there will be some generic ones that apply to all.

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You may check too stackoverflow.com/questions/393597/… and this very clever blog about usability totalusability.posterous.com –  Frosty Z Mar 4 '11 at 10:03
    
probably better suited for ui.stackexchange.com –  GSto Mar 4 '11 at 18:29
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Belongs on ux.stackexchange.com –  Kilian Foth Sep 16 '13 at 6:40
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3 Answers

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There aren't going to be standard checklists for "intuitive", any more than there are checklists for "beautiful" or "stylish". It's a matter of experience, creativity, and knowledge. That said, there are a couple of things to do.

One thing you should do is know what the usual design elements are, where they are typically placed, how they look, and what they do, and not deviate from that without a good reason. There's no inherent reason Word should be intuitive, but word processors that generally do thing Word's way will seem to behave intuitively because it's what people expect.

Another thing is usability testing, with test groups of three to five people who haven't seen the app before. You need to try to impress on them that you want their complaints, that if they feel like they're not intelligent enough to "get" the app that it isn't their fault. Then pay attention to what they say and do.

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Usability evaluation, like programming, can be learned, but some people (not myself) have it by instinct.

A good resource on usability is Nielsen.

However, I would suggest as a first step Norman's "The Design of Everyday Things". While not specific to computers, he makes you think generally about the topic, and I feel that's a useful step before domain specific guidelines.

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Well, TDOET is actually from the 1980's and doesn't deal with software at all (my copy, at least). It's an analysis of the psychology behind industrial design, and it's far more useful in that field. Still a good read, just not as relevant to software usability, IMHO. –  markh Mar 4 '11 at 20:58
    
@mhazen: It has nothing to do with software, that's the whole point. As software people it's hard for us not to think of things in terms of software and engineering, rather than how people see the software - as a tool. That's why some schools have it as the first reading in the curriculum prior to any HCI studies. –  Uri Mar 5 '11 at 21:47
    
Uri, I like the part of your answer about learning things in programming from non-computer-specific resources; and the opposite can also be done, learning lessons in life, from programming and computers. –  Abbafei Mar 8 '11 at 21:15
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See this article, especially the section "Make It Intuitive" (which is on the second page), at the end of the section specifically (the part about testing it on real people). (the article is about games for young kids, but its information can be useful for a lot of programs besides kids games)

Either:

  • Thinking about what it would be like to use the program as a "user", without knowing or having access to anything a programmer knows,

or

  • Asking people who are not familiar with the program to try it

, or a combination of these, can go a long way towards making a program more intuitive.

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