Last week we were conducting some research for a client. The research
included testing of a registration form for their product/service.
During registration, participants filled out their contact info (e.g.
name/email) then were directed to a security screen, where they were
prompted to answer three security questions—pretty standard for
financial systems these days (this was not a financial system, but was
for backing up all your stuff on your computer through their service—
so equally important to individuals).
What surprised us was that the corresponding drop down menu for each
security item had 20 questions in each—a very long list. We had some
initial concerns that participants would find this overwhelming, a bit
tedious, and my be put off by the whole thing. What we found was quite
the opposite, actually. Every participant 11/11 felt reassured with
the long list of questions. Responses included:
"This makes me feel more safe."
"These questions are harder to break. Everyone can guess my eye color,
but not my favorite flavor of ice cream."
"This is good. Lots of questions are harder to break."
And then there were the "Well, I wouldn't pick favorite color or ice
cream. Those things change too often depending on my mood."
Incidentally, this was heard from 4 women, but none of the men. Just
an observation folks, don't shoot the messenger.
The point is that technically, this form wasn't more usable—it was in
fact less usable, took more effort, and time to complete than if there
were only say 5 questions in each menu. 11/11 participants rated this
as being a 1=very easy and high satisfaction, which goes to show you
that the most usable solution isn't always the best solution.
Todd Zaki Warfel
President, Design Researcher
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.