Sample Issues List


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Sample Issues List
Suggested Links

Notes about this sample issues list:

I deliver a usability issues list to clients 1 to 2 days after testing or review work ends.  These are the basic research findings that teams can begin to act on before a final report (if desired) arrives.  Final reports include the issues lists as well as details of the methodology and discussion of results.

The sample here is for a hypothetical kids' software product.  The issues noted here are examples of common issues seen with kids' products and are drawn from many different projects.  The list here is also much shorter than usually generated in a usability test.  This sample represents an evaluation of a web site with games.

[Project Title]
Key Usability Issues and Design Recommendations

Libby Hanna


Usability issues are listed according to their severity.  The severity of each issue is rated as follows:

bulletHigh. The problem kept the participant from completing the intended action.
bulletMedium. The problem caused difficulty, frustration, and significant delays, but the participant eventually figured out how to complete the action.  
bulletLow. The problem, while a nuisance, did not greatly affect performance. Participants quickly figured out how to complete the action.  Or, the issue was not really a problem, but rather a participant's preference or wish.
bulletGood. Comments on positive aspects of the product.


Issue #

Severity &


Usability Issue




P1, P6, P7, P8, P9, P11

Inconsistent methods of opening links cause errors and confusion.

Kids got stuck the first few times they clicked a link that opened a new browser window.  They didnít know how to get back to the original site and had to be told to close the window.  After that, if they clicked a link that opened in the same browser window, they tended to close the window and ended up shutting down their browser completely.  Some kids did this several times, clearly not understanding when they had used one kind of link versus the other.

      Consistency of how links work is critical to kidsí successful navigation on the Internet.  It is best to open new links in the same browser window so kids can still use the Back button to navigate.



P1, P2, P3, P5, P6, P8

Game 1: Canít figure out game.

Kids didnít know what they were supposed to do at the start of the game and quickly lost the level.  Some kids eventually figured it out but others gave up and commented that it was too hard.

      Change instructions to make the goal of the game clearer.

      Place a few playing pieces in the first screen by default so kids can see how theyíre supposed to start.

      Start with a slower and easier pace so kids have time to figure out the game before losing the level.



P3, P4, P8, P10, P11, P12

Popup warning when leaving web site is confusing and ominous.

Some kids who saw a popup warning about leaving the site thought that they should ask their parents if it was okay or get help from their parents to continue.  One girl thought it meant she would be leaving the Internet.  After reading the dialog, kids usually clicked the button to take them back to original site, indicating they were unlikely to explore that kind of link further.

      Remove this warning from the site.  All navigation away from the site should be as consistent as possible, and all links on the pages of the site should be to ďkid-appropriateĒ locations, making this kind of warning unnecessary.



P2, P3, P6, P7

Game 2: Too easy to lose instructions.

Very few kids in this test heard the instructions when they first entered this game.  They had clicked twice on the game icon in the previous page, and the second click appeared to carry through and interrupt the instructions of the game.  Because the hourglass icon disappeared before the screen transitioned, kids thought that their first click hadnít done anything and so clicked again.

      Make sure that clicks donít count until the new screen loads.

      Once kids click on an icon, the cursor should change into an hourglass, and stay that way until the game screen has loaded and is ready for interaction.  Any action that is un-interruptible must be clearly indicated by the hourglass cursor, and subsequent clicking should be ignored by the program.



P2, P5

Frustration with overlapping hotspots.

A couple of kids got frustrated when they tried to click one hotspot and accidentally activated another one because the hotspots were too close together or appeared to overlap.

      Make sure that hotspots are distinct from one another with enough space in between so kids can easily find the one they want.




Site contains too much text for early readers.

Younger kids ignored most of the text in the site and found it difficult to find appropriate content.  They tended to click on ads or brand logos that they recognized.

      Make sure the site is appropriately designed for the target age.  For younger kids,  links should be graphics rather than text as much as possible, and supported by abundant use of animation and audio.



P1, P3, P4, P6, P7, P8, P10, P11, P12

Pictures donít look clickable.

Because they saw a rollover color change on the text links, but not on the pictures (other than the cursor change over all links), kids tended not to click on the pictures.

      Add rollover animation to pictures so that kids know they can click on them when they move their mouse cursor over them.  The animation can be as simple as a border color change.



P1, P7

Game 2: Rollover audio doesnít make sense.

Some kids heard rollover audio for one icon when they had moved their cursor over it and then gone on to something else.  It didnít make any sense to hear to hear the audio when they were on a different icon.

      Make sure that rollover dialog like this cuts off as soon as kids move their cursor away from the hotspot, so that they donít hear it when they are looking at something else.

      Rollover dialog should always be activated only after kids have left their cursor on the hotspot for 0.5 seconds, and cut off as soon as the cursor moves away.




Hotspot too small.

One kid tried to click an icon, but couldnít find the hotspot.

      Increase the size of the hotspot so kids can easily click it.




Category menu is useful.

All kids used the category links in the menu to explore different sections of the site.  Several kids understood and used the Home page button to return to the first page they had seen, and they were also able to locate content they had previously seen in another category by clicking category links to return there.




P4, P6, P7

Game 3: UI clear.

All kids who tried this activity understood how to use game pieces and what they were for.




P1, P5, P8

Game 4: Gameplay sufficiently easy.

More kids could get through the first few levels of this game with the adjustments in difficulty made since the last test.


Contact me at libbyh@earthlink.net


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Last modified: November 21, 2004