7 out of 10 – Better Luck Next Time

I just took the Human Factors International Usability Quiz on the recommendation of Henrik Olsen of GUUUI.

My score: 7 out of 10. Apparently I am an average usability sherpa. But, what I find odd is the “correct” answers to the ones I got wrong. Below are the questions, my answers and the correct answers. If you want to see all the choices, go take the test.

(Now in all fairness, this is a silly usability test and it is meant to be just for fun. However, as I am wont to take things too seriously…)

  1. An important first step in designing a Web site is to:

    Your answer was: (b) Identify target user groups

    The correct answer is (b) Identify target user groups
  2. Usability testing for a Web site can be performed optimally with:
    Your answer was: (e) All of the above
    The correct answer is (e) All of the above
  3. An expert review is:
    Your answer was: (c) Based on one standard set of guidelines
    The correct answer is (b) Relatively quick to do
  4. Multimedia should be used:
    Your answer was: (c) Sparingly to support the intent of the site
    The correct answer is (c) Sparingly to support the intent of the site
  5. To improve the time it takes to scan a Web page, text should be:
    Your answer was: (b) Left aligned
    The correct answer is (b) Left aligned
  6. To organize information on a Web page, grouping can be used to differentiate related and unrelated information by:
    Your answer was: (e) All of the above
    The correct answer is (e) All of the above
  7. Items on a Web page can be sequenced based on each of the following except:
    Your answer was: (a) Alphabetical even if alphabet not known to users
    The correct answer is (a) Alphabetical even if alphabet not known to users
  8. In general, when writing for the Web one should do all of the following except:
    Your answer was: (a) Avoid paragraphs
    The correct answer is (c) Use computer terminology
  9. Color should not be used in Web page design:
    Your answer was: (b) As a code
    The correct answer is (d) In many hues
  10. Red text should not be used on a blue background because:
    Your answer was: (c) It will be fuzzy to read
    The correct answer is (c) It will be fuzzy to read

I got questions 3, 8, and 9 wrong. Here’s why I think I am right.

  • An expert review is:
    Your answer was: (c) Based on one standard set of guidelines
    The correct answer is (b) Relatively quick to do

When I hear “expert review,” I think “heuristic review.” And an heuristic review is based on a standard set of guidelines for design. The standards may only be company specific, or they may fall into the category of a “Web standard” (whatever that would be), but an heuristic review should be done by someone who is versed in usability research even if it amounts to a checklist review. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

  • In general, when writing for the Web one should do all of the following except:
    Your answer was: (a) Avoid paragraphs
    The correct answer is (c) Use computer terminology

This one I just don’t understand, though I guess I do get why they chose “computer terminology.” My thought was that it depends on the audience. So if your audience knows computer terminology (which you would have found out by building a good user profile), then feel free to use it in your copy. I chose that one shouldn’t avoid paragraphs because, well, why should you? I am using a paragraph right now, do you feel you are experiencing a usability issue? (If so, please call a doctor (just say Hi), find a comfy chair, elevate your feet, and enjoy a good sit.)

  • Color should not be used in Web page design:
    Your answer was: (b) As a code
    The correct answer is (d) In many hues

Where to begin with this one…? Their answer is wrong and mine if right. Color should not be used (solely) as a code for pointing out some metadata about an object. Say for example you use dark blue text for field captions to indicate required fields. Well, the color is now a code for required. Dark blue for require fields and black for optional might not be enough of a color difference even for people without a color vision deficiency. This is just an off-the-top-of-my-head example to illustrate my thinking when taking the test.

So, as you can see I should have received a 10 out of 10. I should be receiving a call from HFI asking me to come work for them. Or better yet, IDEO [insert blatant hint here]. I guess in the end I should be happy with my 7 out of 10, because in Miller’s world (cue Ron) my 7 could be a 9 and that’s alright by me.

3 replies on “7 out of 10 – Better Luck Next Time”

  1. Thanks for the cue ;)

    I like that people think that usability practise should be based upon knowledge. Better yet when this knowledge is derived from critically assessed research. Now we just need to figure out which research, how to assess it, and what knowledge is applicable to practitioners… Then, maybe, someone can test for this knowledge, hopefully not as just a promotional gimmick.

  2. I took the short quiz immediately after you showed the link. I, too, got 7 out of 10 — missing the exact same ones as you with the same answers as you. The expert review question I didn’t really know. I was venturing a guess, so I can’t dispute that one.

    However, on the other two, I’m in the same court as you. The one seemed to have two possible answers — avoid paragraphs and avoid computer terminology. And in some situations, “avoid computer terminology” is not a good answer either. I would think it would be worse to run all text into one loooong chunk of content. Worse, I don’t think many people would stick around to read through an unorganized piece of text.

    I also agree with your analysis of colors. I would think that use of hues being bad or good would depend on its use. I chose color codes, because the word “code” usually signifies that you need to figure out the code to properly interpret something. Using a color code (as in your example for required fields) would make “breaking” the code difficult to impossible for those that are color blind or otherwise can’t properly discern colors.

  3. Re: Number 8. I think you misunderstood the question, mostly because it was written badly.

    It said you should do all of the following EXCEPT…

    “In general, when writing for the Web one should do all of the following except:
    Your answer was: (a) Avoid paragraphs
    The correct answer is (c) Use computer terminology”

    So, you had it right in your head, just not on paper because of how they worded it. They are recommending that you use paragraphs.

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