Build Your Site: Usability is Key

Jan 22, 2004
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Build Your Site: Usability is Key

In the late 90's, I took a Human Computer Interface course. This was the first time the word "usability" came into my life.

"Usability is a combination of factors that effect a user's experience when interacting with a product or system."
At the time, I didn't have a clue that this course would have an impact on my daily activities. I was surprised at how important usability is in our everyday life.

What is Usability?

Usability exists everywhere!

Do you know that major corporations pay $$$ to find out...
  1. The proper location of an ON/OFF button of a remote control.
  2. How to produce an ON/OFF button that is more visible?
  3. How to create a broom that is more user friendly? (Funny huh? It's true. Have you seen the variety of brooms out in the market today?)
Why does it cost money? Time is money. Would you spend thousands or millions on a system that does not work?

The same thing applies to web design. People do not want to spend money on designs that do not work.

Usability is a combination of factors that affect a user's experience when interacting with your web site interface. According to web usability guru Jakob Nielsen characteristics of usability are:
  1. Learnability : The system should be easy to learn so that the people can start getting work done.
  2. Efficiency of use: The system should be efficient to use, so that once the user has learned the system, a high level of productivity is possible.
  3. Easy to remember: The system should be easy to remember, so that the casual user is able to return to the system without having to learn everything all over again.
  4. Errors: The system should have a low error rate. If an error occurs, does it allow rapid recovery from errors?
  5. Satisfaction: Is the user happy with the system?

Usability testing?

Designing and developing a successful system is about creating a positive user experience. However, creating this experience requires more than just a great design - it's about creating a useful and usable design that is right for your intended target audience.

Research has shown that users cannot find the information they seek on Web sites 60% of the time.

Other sources report:

  • "There are about 43...

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