On intuitiveness…

Published 2017-02-24, by John

I have a problem with the overused term and concept of “intuitive.” I don’t think “intuitive” is itself intuitive. So here are some quick redefinitions of my UI/UX checklist:

  1. Is the interaction obvious? (probability of successful interaction [p] = essentially 100%)

    If not, can it be made obvious?

  2. Is there a clear affordance to the interaction? (p >= 90%)

    If not, can it have a clear affordance?

  3. Is there a statistically significant probability of getting the expected outcome from the interaction? AKA “Is it intuitive?” (p >= 80%)

    If not, can we improve that probability?

  4. Is there a way to bridge the UI and user’s mental models? (p < 80%)

“Intuitive” means that the user has to take a risk/make a guess, and that the risk of customer error is low enough and easily recoverable/non-punitive. “Intuitive” implies that some learning is involved, and that it is memorable.

So don’t just make your interactions and interfaces intuitive. Intuitive is your 3rd resort.