My word for this blog post is usability, more specifically web usability. Wikipedia (1) defines web usability as an approach to making web sites easy to use for an end-user, without requiring her (or him) to undergo any specialized training. The broad goal of usability can be
1. Present the information to the user in a clear and concise way.
2. To give the correct choices to the users, in a very obvious way.
3. To remove any ambiguity regarding the consequences of an action e.g. clicking on delete/remove/purchase.
4. Put the most important thing in the right place on a web page or a web application.
But, usability is also design.
As designers we must see a project on many levels. For web design we have to maintain accessibility, provide pleasing appearances within our designs, and create full functionality all while we consider usability. Without it, without design, development could fail.
When a website is in the beginning stages, design must be considered. Not to show off how pretty or fricken' awesome we can make the site, but for the sake of usability. We need to create user experience in order for the design to succeed. "A user's personal experience trumps anything the designer is trying to communicate. In talking about a design's "look and feel," feel wins every time. ...We need much better methods for testing enjoyable aspects of user interfaces." (2) This is where usability becomes a very important part of our design process. We get to put ourselves in our audiences' shoes and ask ourselves what would we expect?
In Design Factors we (those of you who had Bert) worked on a website for Medtronic and were able to see how important usability is with websites through user testing. We found out that some of our ideas didn't come across the way we wanted them to and had to redesign the placement of buttons or how the page was put together. We thought about usability as design. And when we do that, everything else should follow.
2. Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, July 7, 2002: User Empowerment and the Fun Factor