What is Usability

Usability

Usability is related to how easy it is to learn and use human-made objects, including: software applications, websites, tools, machines, furniture, etc. The primary concept of usability is that an object designed for a specific user is: efficient, easy to learn and solves a problem.

A usable product:
– Provides a good user experience.
– Drives more sales.
– Communicates your ideas effectively.
– Solves a problem.

Project Details

Project details include: project name, project scope, site location, product owner, contractors, contact information, tools, etc. It is the information required to design, implement and distribute a project.

Product Layout

Product layout is about the physical location of different attributes and features of the items being developed. The most important thing to remember about layout is to be predictable. People are accustomed to using your product and similar products in a certain way.

Stick Shift Layout

For example, in most manual transmissions “Reverse” is to the right and down (See #1 and #2). Some manufacturers place it to the left and up (See #3 and #4), which is significantly different than the norm. Having a design this different requires some retraining, especially of muscle memory.

Muscle Memory

Muscle memory is not an idea stored in your muscles. It is information stored in your brain that is much like a cache of frequently enacted tasks. It’s a form of procedural memory that helps you become very good at something through repetition. People leverage muscle memory for things like driving, navigating websites, turning pages in a book, eating, etc. The more different and unpredictable your product is from muscle memory, the longer it takes to learn how to properly use the product. Because of this, from a usability point of view, it is important not to deviate too far away from what is expected.

Navigation

Navigation is more than a list of links in a menu. It is a system of text, graphics, modules, dials, displays, etc. that help users identify where they are, what options are available, and how to get to where they want to be. Great navigation is a critical element of user experience. Great navigation should:

  • Be easy to find.
  • Be consistent and predictable.
  • Enable users to choose from a small list of options.
  • Provide clear and informative labels.
  • Adapt to match user needs.
  • Tell users where they currently are and how to get back to the beginning.
  • Provide for search (ex: glossary, search bar, sitemap, table of contents, etc).

Accessibility

Accessibility refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for all people whatever their hardware, software, language, culture, location, or physical or mental ability. It is a wide ranging set of principles and guidelines designed to make it easier to use a product. As great navigation allows for a great user experience, great user experience optimization creates accessibility. There are several core components of accessibility:

  • 1) Audio: Sounds are used to help the user identify good and bad ways to use a product.
  • 2) Mental: Simplicity rather than complexity in design is the desired result.
  • 3) Physical: The physical characteristics of components (such as weight, size, etc) does not hinder the ability to use it.
  • 4) Spatial: The layout and design of components makes it easy to find things and does not hinder the ability to use it.
  • 5) Visual: Graphics and other visual cues such as color allow the user to understand how to use a product without understanding the language.

Usability Testing

Usability testing is a way to evaluate a product. It involves having users interact with the product in a controlled environment. Specific users are asked to perform a series a tasks to see how the product is used to solve those problems. Observations are made and recommendations are submitted to the designers. Usability testing helps identify which features are working and which ones are not. It provides real world experiences that help improve product design and overall user experience.

Product Trust and Reliability

Product trust and reliability are essential if you want the customer to keep coming back for a specific product or service. Product trust creates product confidence, and product confidence creates sales. Trust is your most valuable commodity in the marketplace, so protect it. You create trust by creating a positive user experience. This website is full of ideas on how to improve and optimize the user experience. They are important tools to help you. The most important thing, however, is to purposely make your customer the most important reason why you are in business. If you do this, everything else will work itself out.