3 Research Takeaways about Commonly Used Interface Elements

11-30-22 Julie Young

It’s easy to make assumptions about which user interface elements are more or less user-friendly. It’s harder to put in the effort to get to some hard data. But our team did just that when they put three common usability assumptions to the test.

From time to time, we make assumptions about what user interface elements are easier or more difficult for people to use. And sometimes we find ourselves defaulting to certain UI patterns on auto-pilot without questioning their utility.

With this in mind, Sparkbox ran a series of unmoderated usability studies to test three of our own commonly held assumptions:

Right-Aligned Buttons

The Assumption: Right-aligned buttons are more efficient for right-handed people to use.

The Study: We tested how long it took for users to reach a button that was left-aligned, right-aligned, or centered on a screen and asked whether users were left- or right-handed or ambidextrous.

The Result: Button alignment appeared to make no difference to the time needed or the accuracy of the action.

Our Take: How buttons are designed and implemented matters more than a rule of thumb about alignment.

Read the Full Results

Switches, Checkboxes, and Radio Buttons

The Assumption: Switches for binary selections are worse for usability than radio buttons or checkboxes.

The Study: We tested how long it took for users to make a yes/no selection using a switch (also called a toggle), a pair of radio buttons, or a checkbox.

The Result: All options performed at roughly the same rate for speed and accuracy.

Our Take: Switches, radio buttons, and checkboxes are all equally good choices for binary selections.

Read the Full Results

Assumption: “Read More” links are important indicators that help users click into blog posts and articles.

The Study: We presented users with a typical list of article blurbs (including an image, title, description, and “Read More” link) and asked them where they would click to access the full article.

The Result: For these listings, less than one third of users clicked the “Read More” link. People were more likely to click on the article’s image or title.

Our Take: Make the entire article promo clickable and don’t worry about adding “Read More” links to designs.

Read the Full Results

When in Doubt, Test It Out

A few quick, low-cost usability tests proved some of our design assumptions wrong. Wondering what a quick usability test will tell you about your website or application? Sparkbox’s UX professionals are experts at planning and conducting usability testing. Get in touch with us and we’ll help you maximize the usability of your product.

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