December 2007 Usability Spotlight

December 15, 2007

User Centric is very excited to launch the first edition of our newsletter!  We hope it will give you valuable insight into the field of usability.  Sent out quarterly, it will also give you a taste of who we are and hopefully entertain a little as well.

iPhone vs. QWERTY

Direct Comparison of iPhone and Hard-Key QWERTY Phone Owners Indicates Higher Text Entry Error Rate for iPhone

User Centric, Inc. finished a third and final study examining the user experience of Apple's iPhone. Previously, User Centric found that overall design and usability of the iPhone was good, but the iPhone's touch keyboard was a weak point for many users. Highlights from the final study:

iPhone owners entered text rapidly, but made many errors which were not alleviated over time
Numeric owners performed best on hard-key QWERTY

iPhone corrective feature was both helpful and frustrating

Read full article

Download an excerpt of our report.

Related Links

Data Doesn't Lie

by Gavin Lew 

The finding that an actual keyboard performs better than a virtual keyboard should not be surprising. Hardkeys have the affordances of tactile feedback when navigating your fingers/thumb and pressing. The results of the study analyzed thousands of text entries across scores of users. It is real. But, those iPhone users who have difficulty believing the results based on their own anecdotal texting are missing some key takeaways:

  1. iPhone owners showed no difference in time. The difference was in errors. This is a perception problem because several dissenters say they “type as fast or faster” and the data support their belief. What the results reveal is that errors are significantly higher with the iPhone and that’s WITH auto-correction enabled! 
  2. Those who use standard phones with primarily numeric keypads (non-QWERTY) should do well on the iPhone because performance was equivalent on initial use. Imagine what learning will do to performance.
  3. The results are not intended to bash the iPhone, but to suggest to manufacturers of virtual keyboards where false alarms and errors manifest to improve text entry for next gen devices.

Usability Tip

When designing small-screen devices that allow fingertip input, consider enabling a secondary means of input (such as stylus input). This will help reduce frustration among users with larger fingertips or longer fingernails.

Fun Links

The Not Usable File

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Unveiling! New logo, new website! Visit and let us know what you think!

User Centric Presents: Automated User Testing

Testing in China?

More Than Usability

Wedded Bliss! User Centric celebrated two weddings this year! Senior User Experience Specialist, Heather Olson, recently wed Mick Rakauskas and User Experience Specialist, Piya Buranatum, wed Eric Haerr.

Hold the Donuts! October brought a healthy makeover to User Centric. We now offer healthier food options at our facilities.

Puppy Love! Managing Director, Bob Schumacher, recently added some excitement to his household by adopting a golden retriever mix from a local shelter in November.

Something to Wine About

by Bob Schumacher

Well, the holidays bring memories or turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, and, what else, Beaujolais Nouveau!
The 2007 Season in Burgundy was good compared to much the rest of France. Georges Duboeuf' 2007 Beaujolais Nouveau while not stellar is decent. The wine is a purple red wine with a fresh raspberry scent. In the mouth it is juicy with berry flavors with a hint of spice at the rear. This is classic Gamay wine even if a little thin. Enjoy for under $12.

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