The purpose of technology is to empower humans, our purpose is to be able to understand it and usability stands between these two concepts.
Usability testing is not just a collection of different opinions and research, instead it involves watching people trying to use the product to accomplish their tasks, at the same time it measures the product’s capacity in accomplishing its intended purpose. Basically you have the chance to experience a “live feedback” from users. The word “usability” also refers to methods for improving and measuring the ease-of-use during the design process. Usability Evaluation focuses on how well users can learn and use a product to achieve their goals. It also refers to how satisfied users are with that process. In short, Usability is the relationship between the program and its audiences.
In my opinion usability is a wide definition which is hard to narrow down on a one solid statement, here are some definitions of usability merged together:
According to ISO 9241 definition, Usability means:
The effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction with which specified users achieve specified goals in particular environments.
Effectiveness: the accuracy and completeness with which specified users can achieve specified goals in particular environments.
Efficiency: the resources expended in relation to the accuracy and completeness of goals achieved.
Satisfaction: the comfort and acceptability of the work system to its users and other people affected by its use.
Intuitive design: a nearly effortless understanding of the architecture and navigation of the site
Ease of learning: how fast a user who has never seen the user interface before can accomplish basic tasks
Efficiency of use: How fast an experienced user can accomplish tasks
Memorability: after visiting the site, if a user can remember enough to use it effectively in future visits
Error frequency and severity: how often users make errors while using the system, how serious the errors are, and how users recover from the errors
Subjective satisfaction: If the user likes using the system
‘A Practical Guide to Usability Testing’ (rev. ed., Dumas and Redish, 1999). Dumas and Redish use four points to their definition:
1. Usability means focusing on users
2. People use products to be productive
3. Users are busy people trying to accomplish tasks
4. Users decide when a product is easy to use
What usability is not
Out of the scope
Thinking that usability requires knowledge of psychology or visual arts and it is outside the scope of what programmers do it is false. Also thinking that there should be only one person who is in completely in charge of usability testing it is false. Of course there will always be a role for usability specialists, but basic competence in usability engineering should be part of every programmer’s craft.
A finishing touch
Usability testing should not be treated as a “finishing touch” after the design phase. After conducting a usability test, we can never assume that that software is now usable. Usability is a process that changes over time, what was considered to be usable some time ago may not be considered usable now. So to ensure good usability, we need to test in an iterative way throughout the design and development process, always involving users.
Spot the differences
Usability vs UX
UX is the overall experience of a person using a product such as a website or computer application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use, it is more about users emotional connection and experience using the product.
Usability is one of the components that influence the overall User Experience. Is the ability to do something intuitively and easily. So,just because something is easy to use, does not necessarily mean that is a good user experience.
Usability vs Utility
Definition of Utility = whether it provides the features you need.
Definition of Usability = how easy & pleasant these features are to use.
Definition of Useful = usability + utility
Usability vs Functionality
Functionality is the ability of an interface or device to perform according to a specifically defined set of parameters.Functional testing requires the mindset of “CAN I do what I need to do, does this product work?” whereas usability has the mindset of “HOW can I do what I need to do, does this make sense?”
So, this is a wrap for this weeks post where the main goal was to build up an understanding of usability testing Feel free to leave any comments, I’d love to know your opinion and discuss more about usability.
See you next week 🙂