3 approaches to better design: each has its uses, but the costs, benefits, and risks differ dramatically.

Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox for March 26: A/B Testing, Usability Engineering, Radical Innovation: What Pays Best?

Usability Week 2012 conference

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iPad 3 Changing Use Patterns

The new iPad 3's crisper screen will lead to increased tablet use, particularly when reading content.

  • iPad 3 is the first broad-market computer with a good display, meaning that it's currently the only computer that makes it reasonably pleasant to read text. In other words, people with both a desktop computer and an iPad 3 will tend to prefer reading from the tablet, even though the desktop is otherwise more powerful. (Users will stick with their desktop computer for tasks that involve more intense interaction.)
  • Also, as we know from all previous research, when the usability of something goes up, users do it more. More pleasant reading = more reading. I stand by the analysis in my previous newsletter that the user interface design guidelines remain the same as those discovered when testing the iPad 1 and 2.

However, the expectation to see more use of tablets, now that they are more pleasant to use, does have implications for design strategy: a broader set of companies should now invest in designing tablet versions of their websites or mobile apps.

See also the 2-day training course on visual design for mobile and tablet — it goes without saying that these new designs need to take advantage of the higher-resolution screen with more subtle visual effects and better typography.

Longer-term, I hope we'll finally get better monitors for desktop computers. It's a disgrace that 2560x1600 pixels has been the largest broad-market monitor for about a decade now. This is slightly more pixels than the iPad 3, but when spread across a 30-inch monitor the crispness (and thus font legibility) is much worse. We need 40-inch displays with 300 dpi pixel density for desktop computers to regain their competitiveness. Luckily Windows 8 does have baked-in support for high-density screens.

Scottish Tweet

I don't know why, but the audience at last week's Edinburgh Usability Week were particularly tweety. Many of the Tweets are still online if you want to get a feel for what transpired.

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