In last week’s post, we discussed David Hogue’s second core principle of interaction design, visibility. Today I’d like to share his next principle of interaction design critical to Good UI Design and UX: learnability.

The bottom line: interactions should be easy to learn and equally easy to remember.

Principle 3: Good Interaction Design is Learnable.

When we talk about good interaction design, our ideal hope is that the people we’ve designed the app, site or system for will use it once, learn it rapidly and remember it forever.

The truth, Hogue says, is a little more practical. What usually happens is that they use it a few times, learn it, and hope they remember it for next time. Our job, as designers, developers and UX professionals of all stripes, is to make that learning and remembering possible. How do we do that? By making our interfaces intuitive.

What “Intuitive” really means

While there are lots of opinions here, what the term intuitive truly means is “single trial learning.” Hogue explains that once we run through something, we’ve got enough of a handle on it that we’ll be able to do it again. That doesn’t mean we automatically remember everything the next time around, though. It simply means the interaction design is clear, consistent and visible enough that we’ll be able to easily infer what to do first second, third, etc.

Timeless UI Principles

Even interfaces that are easy to use may require learning, and the more we use them the easier it seems. Learning is also enhanced when the interaction cues we see mimic those we’re familiar with. We learn behaviors from our experiences across the web, devices and real-world places and objects. These experiences are what create our expectations, intrinsic assumptions and understanding of how things are supposed to work.

The learnability of a product can be measured int he following ways:

  1. Effectiveness: The number of functions learned, or the percentage of users who successfully learn and use the product.
  2. Efficiency: The time it takes someone to learn (or re-learn) how to use a product, and their efficiency in doing so.
  3. Satisfaction: The perceived value the person associates with their investment (time, effort, cost) in learning how to use the product.
  4. Errors: The number of errors made, the ability to recover from those errors and the time it takes to do so.

The following infographic provides some interaction design principles to help you improve the learnability of your UI designs. Click or tap here for a larger, downloadable PDF version.

Learnability - Principles of Interaction Design

These are just some of the ways you can make your UI designs more learnable. Remember that when we feel like we’re making progress, we’ll keep going. The more we understand, the more we do. And the more we do, the more we achieve.

Tune in next week for Principle #4! In the meantime, GIVE GOOD UX!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

If you’d like to get more advice from me every month on UX, UI and Product Design + Development topics — in the form of training videos, full-length courses, e-books, downloadable templates and more — check out my NEW online school, the UX 365 Academy. Every month I publish new content, and you also have access to every course, book and training video I’ve ever created — some of which have never been published online before now.

Check out the UX 365 Academy >