Brukertesting Vidi

Ease of use

Ten rules for increasing user-friendliness without conducting user testing.

Cecilie Dahl

Cecilie Dahl
Partner | Senior Rådgiver

Ease of use and User Testing

How can we increase usability without user testing?

Ease of use is the most important factor for a product / service to be a success. The aesthetic use effect (referring to users’ tendency to perceive attractive products as more usable) may have a role in the success of a product, but your product will be a failure if it has a number of usability issues.

Ease of use is a quality attribute that assesses how easy the user interface is to use.

10 points for ease of use

1. Visibility of systemstatus

Visibility of system status deals with the communication between user and system. Users should know about what is happening in the system through feedback.


2. Match between system and the real world

Match between system and the real world is the second rule. According to this rule, the system should speak the language of the users and follow conventions in the real world.

Example: Ticket booking
Ticket booking

3. User control and freedom.

Jakob Nielsen’s third rule is about user control and freedom. Choosing the wrong option is a common problem in humans. Redo and undo options are an example of getting users back from mistakes. Another thing that matters for this rule is the back and forward buttons of web and mobile apps.

Example: Undo button
Cancel icon

4. Consistency and Standards

The next usability rule is consistency and standards. Consistency is one of the main factors we consider when designing. We can consider consistency as internal consistency and external consistency.

Internal Consistency: Have you ever seen a screen that has two identical icons for a different purpose?

Internal consistency can be defined using an example. Keep in mind that there are two labels called power on and off, and the icon used for both of these brands is the same. This leads to inconsistency. Because both the same icons will generate confusion among users.

External Consistency: We are all familiar with the basic design of an e-commerce website. ie the navigation bar at the top, the action button is in the upper right corner, etc. For example, changing the position of the shopping cart button at the bottom of the page (inconsistency) will create confusion among users. Designers should follow users’ mental models to satisfy external consistency.

Example: The Bergensgalleriet has placed  its shopping cart at the top right to satisfy external consistency. 

5. Error prevention

Error prevention is one of the important rules. We are all familiar with this popup message:

Do you really want to delete this?

Why are we using this message? This warning is used to prevent errors in order to reduce accidental deletion of data. All people have a common challenge in performing actions by accident. So it is important to save users from it. Designers should therefore use error prevention messages in design.

6. Recognition rather than remembering it

Recognition rather than remembering is another rule by Jakob Nielsen. From our memory we can easily recognize an element instead of remembering something.


Example: opening recent files in Microsoft word.

7. Flexibility and Efficiency in use

Most of us know the purpose of shortcut keys ctrl + c and ctrl + v.

ctrl + c is used for copying and ctrl + v is used to paste content. Why do we use these shortcuts?

To increase the speed?

Yes – these shortcuts are called accelerators. By using accelerators we can increase the efficiency of the task we are going to do.

An example is to double tap a photo on instagram to like it.

8. Aesthetic and minimalist design

Another rule is aesthetic and minimalist design. This does not mean that our products / services need attractive images. This means that we must design with the right amount of data. Adding too much detail will increase the cognitive load and confuse users.


The Google Chrome website is an example of aesthetic and minimalist design. They have only included the content that the users need

9. Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors

Help users recognize, diagnose and recover from the error. This can be done using the factors below:

  • Inform user error has occurred.
  • Tell them what the problem is.
  • Tell them how to fix the bug.
404 page

In the above design, the designer satisfied all three factors to increase usability.

10. Help and documentation

The last rule is Help and documentation. User interfaces are becoming increasingly complicated today. It is therefore important to provide help to the users so that they can achieve what they want and perform their task without frustration.

Want to read more about layout in User Interface Design (UI)? Click here