iPad Usability: First Findings From User Testing – Mixed Results!

Now that the iPad is out and people are using the new apps supposedly designed for the iPad, their usability falls short of the expected Apple usability experience.

 Jakob Nielsen, in his Alertbox, May 10 2010, summarized his findings:

“iPad apps are inconsistent and have low feature discoverability, with frequent user errors due to accidental gestures. An overly strong print metaphor and weird interaction styles cause further usability problems.”

Many apps approached the iPad as just a big iPhone:

“But from an interaction design perspective, an iPad user interface shouldn’t be a scaled-up iPhone UI.

Indeed, one finding from our study is that the tab bar at the bottom of the screen works much worse on iPad than on iPhone. On the small phone, users are likely to notice the muted icons at the bottom of the screen, even if their attention is on content in the middle of the screen. But the iPad’s much bigger screen means that users are typically directing their gaze far from the tab bar and they ignore (and forget) those buttons.

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.)”

<< View Nielsen’s Alertbox >>

Leave a reply