iPad Usablity – User Testing

May 10, 2010

in ipad, Knowledge Innovation

No real surprises in this first “report” on iPad usability. Still it is well worth the read. I’ve found and made many of the same observations. They have a 93 page report you can download at the end. There’s some good technical jargon and it certainly supports my general contention that the “publishing” media apps are the most boring. I’ve also been less than impressed by the “navigation” found in iPhone apps. Fact is up-sizing iPhone apps doesn’t work very well. Some of the language does seem harder than necessary yet it’s required to frame the real opportunity the iPad represents. That so many have already embraced it positively merely points to what is to come.

iPad Usability: First Findings From User Testing (Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox)

Another big difference between iPad and iPhone is that regular websites work reasonably well on the big tablet. In our iPhone usability studies, users strongly prefer using apps to going on the Web. It’s simply too painful to use most websites on the small screen. (Mobile-optimized sites alleviate this issue, but even they usually have worse usability than apps.)

The iPad’s bigger screen offers reasonable usability for regular Web pages. Of course, there’s still the “fat finger” problem common to all touch screens, which makes it hard for users to reliably hit small targets. The iPad has a read–tap asymmetry, where text big enough to be read is too small to touch. Thus, we definitely recommend large touch zones on any Web page hoping to attract many iPad users.

Also, most Web pages offer a rich and overstuffed experience compared to the iPad’s sparse and regulated environment; when an iPad app suddenly launches users onto the Web, the transition can be jarring.

For more than a decade, when we ask users for their first impression of (desktop) websites, the most frequently-used word has been “busy.” In contrast, the first impression of many iPad apps is “beautiful.” The change to a more soothing user experience is certainly welcome, especially for a device that may turn out to be more of a leisure computer than a business computer. Still, beauty shouldn’t come at the cost of being able to actually use the apps to derive real benefits from their features and content.

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