The usability error you don’t know you’re making

Most weeks you’ll find me carrying out usability reviews for clients. Sometimes these are usability inspections and sometimes these are usability tests, but there’s a usability error I come across in virtually every system I examine. What makes this problem doubly unusual is that when I raise the problem with the design team they have a complete blind spot about the issue — sometimes even denying that the problem exists.

Many designers still believe that their users are like them. The truth is, that’s rarely the case. A recent review of usability test results showed that many “ordinary” users struggle with interactions that most designers take for granted. Interactions like long drop down lists (such as country selectors), where many users don’t know they can type the first letter to jump to a selection; clicking on a logo to get back to the home page of a web site; and using drag and drop interactions on a web page.

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