KISS the Usability


I would like to begin a series about mobile testing based on the KISS principle:

K – Keep

I – It

S – Simple

S – Stupid

It is useful in web design, but especially useful in mobile app making and testing. What is it all about? Most of all about making apps beautiful and fun by keeping their functionalities and design as simple and tidy as possible – without messy popups, shouting images and annoying music in the background. Basically, it is all about good apps quality that people enjoy and share.

How to obtain such level of simplicity without loosing the content? Lets begin from UX point of view and go through the idea of Usability Heuristics designed by usability consultant – Jacob Nielsen.

Including heuristics’ check in our work may result with more smooth and awesome apps that enable users to explore our products in desirable way. In the world of mobile apps where all comes to sharing and tweeting delivering products of great design, quality becomes the priority for all development teams.

From testers’ point of view – usability testing becomes a new challenge. Apart from functional or performance testing of each product – they suppose think about the look of it and pay attention to user interface details. In such environment – tester becomes the last level of UX control before the application gets to the market. It is a great responsibility.

To level up usability skills – testers should follow ten heuristics and stick to their demands. That simple routine would make every application better and impress the users.

It is always a good idea to visualize things in order to keep them in mind, so all heuristics below are provided with good and bad examples of each rule in real-life situations.

  1. Visibility of system status

    The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within reasonable time.


  2. Match between system and the real world

    The system should speak the users’ language, with words, phrases and concepts familiar to the user, rather than system-oriented terms. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order.



  3. User control and freedom

    Users often choose system functions by mistake and will need a clearly marked “emergency exit” to leave the unwanted state without having to go through an extended dialogue. Support undo and redo.



  4. Consistency and standards

    Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform conventions.


  5. Error prevention

    Even better than good error messages is a careful design which prevents a problem from occurring in the first place. Either eliminate error-prone conditions or check for them and present users with a confirmation option before they commit to the action.


  6. Recognition rather than recall

    Minimize the user’s memory load by making objects, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the dialogue to another. Instructions for use of the system should be visible or easily retrievable whenever appropriate.





    Uncle Google is a great example of using this rule in practice, so is iOS as well. It is always a good idea to learn from leading good examples.

  7. Flexibility and efficiency of use

    Accelerators — unseen by the novice user — may often speed up the interaction for the expert user such that the system can cater to both inexperienced and experienced users. Allow users to tailor frequent actions.



    Another good example – this time from Android, which helps people to use the system in a more efficient way and basically faster.

  8. Aesthetic and minimalist design

    Dialogues should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of information in a dialogue competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility.


    I think that one day Twitter would ban me for tweeting about their flaws 🙂 Anyways – think about your dialogues – nor for web or mobile. User would like to know what is happening at the moment.
  9. Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors

    Error messages should be expressed in plain language (no codes), precisely indicate the problem, and constructively suggest a solution.



    Oh, I love GitHubs 404 so much!!!!

  10. Help and documentation

    Even though it is better if the system can be used without documentation, it may be necessary to provide help and documentation. Any such information should be easy to search, focused on the user’s task, list concrete steps to be carried out, and not be too large.



    OK, Twitter, you’re doing it right:) Don’t be mad at me.


Published by Kinga Witko

Author, Blogger, QA specialist, Agile Tester, cruelty-free. Sugar - free food lover.

6 thoughts on “KISS the Usability

  1. That is a really good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Simple but very accurate information… Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!Best10


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