Designing for Productivity in the User eXperience

Optimizing user efficiency in software and website user interface design
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  • Lectures 48
  • Length 3 hours
  • Skill Level Intermediate Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 8/2013 English

Course Description

This course is course number D15.2 from a comprehensive online curriculum on User eXperience (UX) currently under development by top experts in the field through The Online User eXperience Institute (OUXI).


This is an in-depth course on a particular aspect of designing for the User eXperience.

Overall user experience with software applications and websites is impacted by five key qualities of their user interface:

·  Utility (is the content/functionality useful to intended users?)

·  Usability (is it easy to learn and accomplish tasks?)

·  Graphic Design (is the visual design aesthetically pleasing?)

·  Persuasiveness (are desired actions supported and motivated?)

·  Functional Integrity (does it work smoothly without bugs or crashes?)

The usability of a user interface can be further subdivided into two separate qualities: 

·  Ease-of-learning (is it easy to learn how to accomplish tasks?)

·  Ease-of-use (can tasks be accomplished quickly and easily once learned?) 

The terms ease-of-learning and ease-of-use are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing.  In fact, they often come into direct conflict with one another in user interface design.  That is, a user interface that feels easy-to-learn to novices may soon come to feel tedious and inefficient as they gain expertise, especially if they are high frequency users.  Similarly, a user interface with a steep learning curve may eventually come to feel powerful, flexible and highly efficient once a user is trained and using it frequently.

Ease-of-learning is usually more important to novice, casual or intermittent users.  Ease-of-use is usually more important to trained, high frequency, expert users.  However, even casual, intermittent users, such as users of public websites, will notice – and be frustrated with - designs that limit their efficiency in obvious ways.

Two overall topics are covered in this course:

·  Efficiency design guidelines

·  Efficiency evaluation techniques

The course is a very concrete, "how-to" course.  Both the design guidelines offered and the evaluation techniques taught have been researched, validated and refined by the User eXperience discipline over the past 30 years.

The subset of 24 design guidelines for efficiency offered in this course were selected from the full body of knowledge on software and website usability to be: 

·  Universal (i.e., applicable to most if not all applications and websites)

·  Easy to explain

·  Commonly violated

·  High impact (on user productivity)

·  Easy to implement

They thus represent the "low-hanging fruit" in designing for software and website user efficiency.  The rationale for each guideline is explained, and clear examples are offered to enhance understanding.

Just as with code, usability design guidelines will only take you so far.  In addition, you need evaluation techniques to assess designs for efficiency to insure an application or website will meet its business goals at launch.  Earlier design changes are always easier and cheaper than late design changes. 

The three evaluation techniques taught in this course are:

·  Efficiency heuristic evaluations

·  Keystroke level modeling

·  Efficiency studies

These different techniques can be used at different points in the design and development process to exploit opportunities to improve efficiency in the user interface design when it is most cost effective to do so.  Learning the evaluation techniques also helps deepen the understanding of the design guidelines.


The course format is a PowerPoint presentation accompanied by a studio-recorded video of the instructor.  

The course includes a little over three hours of video (broken into short lectures) with PowerPoint slides, and roughly 1.5 - 2 hours of optional hands-on exercises, for which sample solutions are provided.

Downloadable course materials include:

·  A set of general instructions for getting the most out of Udemy courses

·  The full PowerPoint presentation (in two formats - full slides, and two slides per page)

·  Live, Excel-based templates (used in exercises, and which you can also use as you apply your new skills on real development projects)

·  A handy guidelines checklist (for quick reference during design and evaluation tasks on the job)

In addition you can request a Certificate of Course Completion, and participate in a question and answer forum with the instructor and other course subscribers.

Please feel free to contact the instructor with any questions about this course at

Dr. Mayhew is also available for coaching/mentoring to people who have completed this course and are putting their new skills to work on real projects. Inquire at: 

What are the requirements?

  • Some background, experience and interest in designing optimized software and/or website user interfaces will make it easier to digest the material in this course.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Upon completing this course, you will be able to apply 24 user interface design guidelines for optimizing user efficiency, and apply three evaluation techniques for assessing and refining the efficiency of potential user interface designs
  • In this course you will learn:
  • How to know when user efficiency should be your key usability goal
  • How to insure optimal efficiency through user interface design before launch
  • How shaving a few seconds off user task times through user interface design changes can save millions of dollars
  • The difference between possible efficiency and actual efficiency
  • The difference between three types of user efficiency (perceptual, cognitive and motor) and design guidelines for achieving each
  • How to predict actual task times on a given user interface design before its built
  • How to assess the efficiency of your own individual design ideas as you are making them
  • How to provide concrete feedback on the likely efficiency of the ideas of other designers in your organization

Who is the target audience?

  • This course is aimed at anyone responsible for making or evaluating user interface design decisions for software applications and websites. This includes developers who are also responsible for the user interface design of the functionality they are coding, as well as interaction designers, and user experience professionals who do not have a lot of background or experience in researching, designing and evaluating for ease of use, as opposed to ease of learning. It is also appropriate for students and interns training to be software developers, interaction designers or user experience professionals.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Overview
This "Lecture" contains downloadable course materials.  There is a pdf document providing general instructions for taking Udemy courses.  There are pdf versions of the PowerPoint slides for the course (one in full slide format, one in two slides per page format).  There are also Excel files containing live templates for exercises, which you can also use as work tools, and a checklist summary of efficiency design guidelines.
  • The origins of the field of User eXperience
  • Description of downloadable course materials
  • Optional lecture, just for fun
  • Interesting questions to ponder on the origins of the human brain and mind
  • Answers offered in the last video lecture

  • Definition of terms:  Usability, Efficiency

  • A model of computer-human interaction
  • A useful framework for thinking about designing for efficiency
  • A model of the relative strengths and weaknesses of users vs. computer systems
  • Another useful framework for thinking about designing for efficiency
  • An important distinction between the efficiency made possible by a user interface design, and the actual efficiency of users when using it
  • A discussion of the factors other than user interface design that may impact actual efficiency

Learn when efficiency is a key usability goal and when its a secondary goal.

  • A cost benefit analysis demonstrating how designing for efficiency will result in a significant, bottom line return on  investment
  • A useful reference for learning more about cost justifying usability in general

  • I high level overview of the three efficiency evaluation techniques to be covered
  • A discussion of where in the development lifecycle these techniques can be applied

Section 2: Evaluating Designs for Efficiency, Part One
    • A high level introduction to the keystroke level modeling technique
    • Useful references to the modeling literature
    • A sample level of effort for the modeling technique
  • Definition of the basic human operators used in the keystroke level modeling technique
  • Definition of some sample system operators that can be used in the keystroke level modeling technique
  • Description of some additional human operators that may be included in the keystroke level modeling technique
  • Structuring a model by breaking a task down into a hierarchy of steps, substeps and interactions
  • Building a model by assigning operators to interactions and capturing each instance of each operator as a tally
  • Calculating the total task time in a model by adding up operator tallies, computing total times for each operator, and then summing across all operators for the total predicted task time
  • Calculations for comparing models of the same task on two different user interface designs
  • Analyzing the sources of productivity losses predicted by models of two different user interfaces for the same task
  • Summarizing modeling data across tasks for a single development project
  • A demonstration of modeling a simple step in an ecommerce shopping task:  traditional checkout 
  • A demonstration of modeling a simple step in an ecommerce shopping task: checkout shortcut
  • Hands on Modeling exercise: an introduction to the exercise
  • Hands on Modeling exercise:  description of website user interface #1
Hands on Modeling exercise: description of website user interface #2
  • Hands on Modeling exercise: solution
Section 3: Efficiency Design Guidelines
  • Setting efficiency design goals for a development project
  • Categorizing efficiency design guidelines according to type and level
  • Design guidelines at the information architecture level (motor and cognitive)
  • Design guidelines at the conceptual model design level (motor and perceptual)
  • Design guidelines at the page design standards level (motor)
  • Design guidelines at the page design standards level (motor)
  • Design guidelines at the page design standards level (motor)
Design guidelines at the page design standards level (cognitive)
  • Design guidelines at the page design standards level (cognitive)
  • Design guidelines at the page design standards level (cognitive)
  • Design guidelines at the page design standards level (perceptual)
  • Design guidelines summary
  • Integrating general efficiency design guidelines with unique requirements analysis data
Section 4: Evaluating Designs for Efficiency, Part Two
  • A high level introduction to the efficiency heuristic evaluation technique
  • A walk through of a template for documenting an efficiency heuristic evaluation
  • An example of an efficiency heuristic evaluation with a simplified documentation technique
  • Hands on efficiency heuristic evaluation exercise:  description of the exercise
  • Hands on efficiency heuristic evaluation exercise: a sample solution
  • A high level overview and description of the efficiency studies technique
  • A breakdown of the steps for conducting efficiency studies
  • Includes a sample level of effort
  • A example of the data generated from an efficiency study
  • Includes an example of how to document efficiency study data
Section 5: Summary
  • A sample of results from a project involving both keystroke level modeling and efficiency studies for multiple key tasks supported by an application under development
  • Optional and just for fun
  • Answers to the Infrequently Asked Question posed at the beginning of the course

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Instructor Biography

Deborah J. Mayhew, Internationally recognized consultant, author, and teacher

Deborah J. Mayhew, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of The Online User eXperience Institute (OUXI) is an internationally recognized consultant, author, teacher and speaker on engineering and designing for the User eXperience.

Deborah was one of the earliest pioneers of the field of software and web user experience. She has been Owner and Principal Consultant at Deborah J. Mayhew & Associates, a consulting firm offering a wide variety of services related to designing and engineering for the User eXperience, since 1986, when she became one of the first independent consultants in her field. 

Deborah's clients have included IBM, AT&T, The World Bank, Hewlett-Packard, Ford Motor Company, American Express, The New York City Police Department, Apple Computer, American Airlines, Texas Instruments, NASA, JP Morgan Chase, The National Cancer Institute, Computer Science Corporation, Siemens, Cisco Systems, the IRS and many others.  Deborah has designed user experiences not only for web sites, but also for traditional desktop software applications, medical technology, scientific instruments, and robots.  She has taught courses in many of her client organizations as well as at many professional conferences.

Deborah holds a B. A. in Psychology from Brown University, an M. A. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Denver and a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Tufts University. She has authored or co-authored four books on topics in User eXperience engineering, and has contributed chapters to many other books in the field. One popular book is The Usability Engineering Lifecycle. Another recent book is Cost Justifying Usability: An Update for the Internet Age, co-edited with Randolph G. Bias.

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