Usability Importance

Why is usability so important?

On the Web, usability is a necessary condition for survival. If a website is difficult to use, people leave. If the homepage fails to clearly state what a company offers and what users can do on the site, people leave. If users get lost on a website, they leave. If a website’s information is hard to read or doesn’t answer users’ key questions, they leave. Note a pattern here?

 

There’s no such thing as a user reading a website manual or otherwise spending much time trying to figure out an interface. There are plenty of other websites available; leaving is the first line of defence when users encounter a difficulty.

The first law of ecommerce is that if users cannot find the product, they cannot buy it either.

For intranets, usability is a matter of employee productivity. Time users waste being lost on your intranet or pondering difficult instructions is money you waste by paying them to be at work without getting work done.

 

 

Current best practices call for spending about 10% of a design project’s budget on usability. On average, this will more than double a website’s desired quality metrics (yielding an improvement score of 2.6) and slightly less than double an intranet’s quality metrics. For software and physical products, the improvements are typically smaller — but still substantial — when you emphasize usability in the design process.

 

For internal design projects, think of doubling usability as cutting training budgets in half and doubling the number of transactions employees perform per hour. For external designs, think of doubling sales, doubling the number of registered users or customer leads, or doubling whatever other KPI (key performance indicator) motivated your design project.

“You made a mistake, to be sure — you clicked the wrong link — but that happens. It was the designer, though, who decided to make your mistake difficult to undo. Good design takes into account the possibility that users make mistakes. ” 

Two international standards define usability and human-centered (or usable) design:

 

“[Usability refers to] the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use.” – ISO 9241-11

 

 

“Human-centered design is characterised by: the active involvement of users and a clear understanding of user and  task requirements; appropriate allocation of function between users and technology; the iteration of design solutions; multi-disciplinary design.” – ISO 13407

What is usable design?

Usable design is the process of creating products that provide meaningful and personally relevant experiences. This involves the careful design of both a product’s usability and the pleasure consumers will derive from using it. It is also concerned with the entire process of acquiring and integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability, and function.

 

Websites that provide great user experience are thus designed not only to look great and smart but they follow some core principles:

  • The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
  • The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
  • Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
  • Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
  • The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.
  • The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
  • The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
  • Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user’s body size, posture, or mobility.
 
 

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