Usability is a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use. The word “usability” also refers to methods for improving ease-of-use during the design process.
Put very simply, usability is the ease with which a person can accomplish a given task with your product. And whether you’re designing a login screen, a search experience, or anything else you can imagine, usability is essential!
Usability is defined by 5 quality components:
- Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design?
- Efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?
- Memorability: When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they re-establish proficiency?
- Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors?
- Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use the design?
Difference between usability, utility and usefulness:
- 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.
How does usability fit into UX?
Usability and user experience (UX) are not the same thing. Usability is a critical part of good UX, but these are two different concepts that guide us to consider different aspects of the design process.
Usability refers to how easy a product is to use—how easily you can accomplish a given task with the product. UX refers to the overall experience users have with the product, from beginning to end.
Where to Test
If you run at least one user study per week, it’s worth building a dedicated usability laboratory. For most companies, however, it’s fine to conduct tests in a conference room or an office — as long as you can close the door to keep out distractions. What matters is that you get hold of real users and sit with them while they use the design. A notepad is the only equipment you need.
Typical UX tools and processes, when implemented well, naturally take usability into account—and this is true throughout the UX design process.
In the beginning, your focus is on researching user needs and pain points. It’s your job to really listen and observe what your actual users (or prospective users) want, need, and encounter when using your product. You do this by conducting user experience research and interpreting the resulting data into:
- Affinity diagrams
- Customer journey maps
- User personas
- Any other deliverable that helps visualise the needs that your solutions should address.
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