When optimizing a user interface design for learnability one needs to consider several factors that go into justifying learnability. I shall now go over these factors and the more they apply to your product then the more you have to think about the learnability of your user interface design.
- Importance – The more important your website or app is to a user’s workflow the more time they would be willing to invest in learning the user interface design. One needs to look no further than graphic designers and other creative pros who spend considerable time and money to master the intricacies of the likes of the Adobe Creative Suite range of tools.
- Frequency – How often will users be using a user interface design? The more a website or web app is used the easier for users to internalize using it and use it more efficiently. A user interface design that is used relatively infrequently could require more thought vis-à-vis learnability.
- Cost – The Value Attribution theory states that if something is expensive then we assume it must be of better quality. This does not mean you should purposely overcharge users for your product. After all the flipside of the Value Attribution theory is that expectations rise along with the cost. Charge too much and a solid product suddenly might become unworthy of adulation.
- Alternatives – If your user interface design is simply too frustrating users will, quite simply, look for alternatives. Even if your website or app doesn’t have serious alternatives to contend with it is important to tackle all usability issues before a better alternative crops up.
An example of incorporating learnability in a user interface design is the Google iOS app (a lot of smartphone and tablet apps work in this manner too). A tutorial overlay sits on top of the default user interface design when the app is first opened. This overlay provides concise instructions to the main features of the app allowing new users to quickly get acquainted with the user interface design. In other words learnability is all about empowering users by helping them help themselves.