discoverabilityWorking in the web and software development you probably often come across the term “discoverability”. We typically use it to say whether the feature explains its function and presence, whether users properly understand it at first glance etc. Discoverability is quite a straightforward concept since, if one doesn’t realize the product functionality, he’ll never be able to use it in full.

To ensure the discoverability of your product, consider the 6 following ways to explain its functions to your users.

1. Explicit cues

These are direct prompts instructing users which include arrows, help text, “What’s new” boxes, coach marks etc. They’re unambiguous and clear when well written. Their downside is intrusion into UX which often arouses designers’ disapproval. For that matter, explicit cues should be incorporated subtly and carefully.

2. Static visual cues

At this point the category of implicit cues begins using elements’ inherent properties to explain their purpose.

Static visual cues include the element’s visual properties at rest like the texture, alignment and shape helping to communicate its function. Designers spend much energy creating static affordances for good reason.

3. Motion

An object in motion has multiple ways to communicate its nature. Whether it moves freely, stands still, sticks to other UI parts, swings, slides, rotates or folds – it clearly delivers to users the information about what it is supposed to do.

Motion has a terrific power of explaining potential function, that’s why kinetic responses have gained a great focus for some large digital companies with their web desig services.

4. Audio response

Though not very welcome in IT products, audio is especially good at delivering implicit cues ranging from pops, scrapes and buzzes straight to glorious fanfares.

Audio cues, at their simplest, can suggest whether a user is doing something right or wrong. The positive response is usually interpreted as a rising or high tone, while the negative response is normally a falling or low tone. Only this simple thing alone can let you add an additional dimension, for example, to form validation and drag-n-drop interaction.

5. Text

Despite we’ve already indicated instructions as part of explicit cues, there’s evidence that a well-designed label, for example, can have subtler implications as well. Using metaphors in labels also helps people understand its function better. The “Address Book” button hints in its turn at certain behaviors like searching, unfolding, updating etc.

6. Discovery through use

The last on this list but the strongest in its effect is understanding function through everyday use. The idea is that the interaction with each product gradually shapes the assumptions about the following ones. For example, if users saw many times they can zoom a photo with a pinch, they expect the same will work in their new app, too.

Such guesswork discovery is made particularly common by gestural inputs in the first place. This direct manipulation principle encourages users to swipe, twist and explore new features.

As you can see, discoverability is something more than merely a static visual trait of a product and, therefore, it needs careful design. By using 6 ways given above you can greatly improve your product discoverability and ensure better user experience.