Learnability By Chauncy Wilson

Meeting date: May 12  – 6:30PM

This is a joint meeting with STC NE

  • Chauncy Wilson will discuss Learnability
  • Tuesday, May 12, 2015 at 6:30pm
  • Autodesk at 1560 Trapelo Road, Waltham


This is a joint meeting with STC NE


Learnability is an important aspect of usability, yet there is little agreement on exactly what learnability is, how to measure it, and the guidelines and principles that design teams should follow to make products and services easy to learn.

Usability guru, Jakob Nielsen defined “learnability” as “allowing users to reach a reasonable level of proficiency within a short time,” but this statement requires product teams to further define “users”, “reasonable”, “level of proficiency”, and “short time”. Designers of an ATM, for example, might consider error free withdrawals within a minute during the first use of a new model of ATM a reasonable learnability goal; designers of a complex customer relationship (CRM) system might base learnability goals on performance and error rates on a set of tasks after 2 weeks of training.

What types of learnability are important for your product or service? Each type of learnability has a different learning curve, measuring method, and target performance goal. In this program, Wilson describes various types of learnability, including the following:
· (Literal) first experience with a product
· Memorability (relearning) after a period away from a product
· Expert learning
· Transfer learning when you move from one product to its replacement
· Learning under stress

How do you measure learnability? Wilson discusses methods for measuring usability in detail and note some of the problems with those learnability measures. Examples of learnability metrics that have been used in usability/UX studies include the following:
· Time to complete tasks
· Percentage of users who complete a task successfully
· Percentage of users who complete a task with no assist (going to help or a colleague)
· Change in chunk size over time
· Number of rules required to understand/describe a system
· Learnability surveys
· Percent of available commands or features used

Wilson concludes with a practical discussion of principles, guidelines, and patterns that can be applied to support learnability that focus on both user interface and learning content. He will provide a list of references to learnability and techniques for improving the learnability of products.


Chauncey Wilson is a User Experience Architect at Autodesk, Inc., and Adjunct Lecturer in the Human Factors and Information Design Program at Bentley University. He has presented often at UXPA, STC, CHI, APA, and HFES conferences. Wilson has published several books and chapters on usability engineering, brainstorming, surveys, and inspection methods. He co-authored a chapter (with Dennis Wixon) in the 1997 Handbook of HCI that described how to generate quantitative usability goals (which included learnability along with other usability attributes). Wilson enjoys the role of mentor and always tries to highlight the pros and cons of methods, principles, and processes. He is a member of the Skeptic’s society and enjoys the role of “Chief Skeptic.”.

Evening Schedule

  • 6:30 – 7:00 Networking over pizza and beverages
  • 7:00 – 8:30 Meeting
  • 8:30 – 9:00 CHI Dessert and more networking!

Monthly Sponsors

Thank you to our generous sponsors. If you’re interested in sponsoring BostonCHI, please let us know.

Autodesk is hosting us and providing pizza.


Vitamin T will be sponsoring dessert