Customization Features Done Correctly for the Right Reasons
Web technology allows organizations to move beyond one-size-fits-all interfaces and products — allowing users to define and design their own experiences. Users appreciate custom homepages and web-based design-it-yourself processes. However, our research shows that users often encounter severe usability issues when trying to accomplish customization activities.
This93-pagereport offers46 design guidelinesbased on our usability research. Discussions and78 screenshot illustrationssupplement our findings.
The report does not cover personalization — where a software system tries to predict individual users' needs automatically. It is solely about designs where users themselves employ features to manually customize or configure the UI or a product.
- Business benefits of customization
- Customization vs. personalization
- Customization can be effective when implemented correctly
- The importance of good defaults
- Usability findings
- Users have difficultly to adding content and tools on interface customization sites
- People experience high levels of difficulty on product customization sites
- Users have trouble adding content and moving page elements on custom homepages
- People feel lost and out of control on sites featuring customization
- Design guidelines for customizing the interface
- Level of customization and number of choices
- Designing for user intentions
- Directing users to the customization path
- Familiarizing users with new concepts
- Educating people of advanced options
- Illustrating usefulness of options and features
- Browsing and search for content and tools
- Providing feedback
- Shared and private pages
- Design guidelines for customizing products
- Users' mental model, how users think about product configuration
- Workflow, structure, layout, sequence of choices
- Initiating the process, process navigation
- Communicating the scope of options
- Save and apply data
- How to avoid error messaging
- In-line help and definitions
- Comparing options and attributes
- Detailed methodology section that shows how you can conduct your own usability studies
- My Yahoo!
- Action Envelope
- Custom Ink
- Me and Goji
- Tiny Prints
The information in this report is based on one-on-one usability studies.
Representative users tested customization features on 7 websites. Users also tested websites with no customization to allow us to compare the user experience among different approaches.