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Jakob Nielsen’s Findings on iPad Application Usability

Cross-posted from my personal User Experience blog:

Jacob Nielsen, one of the foremost practitioners of Usability Testing and author of several excellent texts on the subject, has taken a first stab at studying the usability of iPad applications and posted his results as the April 26, 2010 article of Alertbox, his online column about usability.  His conclusions, unfortunately, suggest that despite the hype the user experience on the iPad is far from ideal:

Summary: 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.

I’m not terribly surprised by these results – as he says at the top of his article, an iPad user interface shouldn’t be a scaled-up iPhone UI, and yet, probably because it’s the easiest approach to take for application developers who wanted to convert iPhone apps over, it is what the majority of iPad apps exhibit. Hopefully, as time goes on, both Apple and the i* application development community will take note of the differences between the two form factors and the iPad OS and the applications on it will move towards an interface that is more usable at the larger iPad scale.



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