Two new reports provide valuable information for anyone involved in iPad app or website design. A study by the web usability consultant Jakob Nielsen examined iPad usability, while Miratech, a French user experience consulting firm, looked into the differences between reading on the iPad and a printed newspaper.
Nielsen Norman Group released its first report on iPad app usability a year ago, and the new study compares current apps with the findings of the earlier report. In sum, iPad apps have much improved, but some new usability issues have emerged.
Generally, apps have become more consistent and standardised, the study found. It noted that although many designers seemed to have taken heed of the earlier study's recommendations, some familiar issues were still found.
For example, many websites still feature content that is uncomfortably small to tap. Also the problem of having touchable areas too close together, increasing the risk of tapping the wrong one, still exists in some apps. Accidental activation is particularly annoying if the app lacks an obvious "back" button.
From among new usability issues that were discovered, swipe ambiguity, which occurs when several items on the screen can be swiped, is one of the most prominent ones. When the user swipes at a "wrong" spot, the effect is not what he expects. This can happen when, for example, swiping on a carousel on an app that uses swiping also to change the page.