Websites that let users customize the UI have the same measured usability as regular sites, reveals a recent study by Jakob Nielsen. Websites for customizing products, however, score substantially worse due to complex workflow.
Designs are often adapted to individual users so different people see different screens, both in applications and on websites. Nielsen notes there are two main ways to “individualize” the user experience, depending on who initiates the adaptation:
Customization happens when the user tells the computer what he or she prefers to see.
Personalization happens when the computer modifies its behavior to suit its predictions about the current user’s interests.
The study concludes customization is complicated, both technologically and design-wise.
“To get a user from blank slate to fully customized interface or product takes exceptional design skill,” said Nielsen. “It also requires cooperation among multiple groups to assemble, organize, and architect a usable customization path.”
He added: “Customization isn’t something you can throw together in a couple weeks, and businesses who approach it in that manner are risking their reputation and revenues.”
Read Nielsen’s full report: Customization of UIs and products.