Using research-based guidelines

Bob Bailey, Human Factors International, urges caution when using research-based guidelines. He believes they can help direct the initial decisions, but then these decisions should be validated with appropriate usability testing.

Bailey discusses a recent study from Japan (Tsunoda, et.al., 2001) which hypothesized that 1) "broad" is always better than "deep", 2) task performance times using simultaneous menus within frames on one page will be faster than using the more traditional method of clicking from page-to-page, and 3) when users do well with a task they will prefer the interface, and when they do poorly they will dislike the interface.

None of their hypotheses were proven true in testing.

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Interesting results in light of how Sun presents their java docs

I always wondered if Sun based their java docs on some study where there are three frames presented to drill into the documentation. Each one controlling the next in a counter clockwise direction.