WHACKY interaction design


Jacob Nielsen tested the Ipad and found it to be much more difficult to observe user testing of iPad apps than of iPhone apps.

He says, the early iPad apps have completely WHACKY interaction design, so that users often have no idea what they did to make something happen.

With a touch screen, you don’t get advance notice about where the user is aiming, the way you do with mouse-driven UIs, where you can watch the cursor on its way to the spot the user aims to click.

This is not a big problem on the iPhone, because of (a) the smaller screen and (b) the limited set of interactions. iPhone users mainly employ two interactions (besides clicking on buttons): scrolling down and zooming in/out, both of which act on the entire display. But iPad apps often employ scrolling and/or zooming of sub-panes that can move in multiple directions, which again is harder to follow for an observer.

Don’t even get me started on the supposed accessibility feature of tapping or panning with 3 fingers, which is claimed to help low-vision users read
tiny text. I doubt any 70-year old user will understand the difference between panning the zoom state (with 3 fingers) and panning the display state (with 1 finger). For sure, it’s hard to follow when watching through a document camera.

It’s harder to test iPad usability, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it or that it can’t be done. You simply need more observers or more time reviewing the video recordings.