What means Usability (UI)?
In my first article, How to start in the Digital Marketing world? I already made a small introduction about usability. In this article we will deepen more so that you can understand it and with it apply it in your projects. Usability is the ability of a program, software or in this case a web page or app, to be understood, used and attractive to the user. That is, the extent to which a product can be used by its target audience without any problem.
What is the origin of usability?
Machine-man interaction began almost 40 years ago, in the 80s. At the beginning it was an area of specialization in computer sciences covering cognitive sciences and human factor engineering. This process of “adaptation” began with the arrival of personal computers. It was necessary to facilitate the use of these machines for non-technical people, so that everyone could obtain a greater return to the functionalities of computers.
The approach consisted in the establishment of meta, prototypes and tests from the initial stages of the projects. Ultimately the goal was to make practical designs for all users. From the decade of the 90s, “usability” became a fundamental term when talking about product designs and processes. Since the arrival of the Internet to most households, the importance of usability has increased. It is no longer worth having a web page, but it must be useful and easy to use.
The 5 principles of usability
To know the quality of a product and see if it has a high quality, usability is based on 5 points that I explain below.
- Ease of learning: One of the objectives of usability is that users have no difficulty the first time they enter a system, website or application. It must be intuitive and user-friendly.
- Efficiency: once users have learned to navigate the interface it is important to know the difficulties that users may encounter when carrying out tasks.
- Memorability: it is important that once the users re-use the program they remember where the important factors of this are. For example, a search engine on the top right or relevant information in the footer.
- Errors: it consists of anticipating the possible errors that users make. After that it is important to provide solutions and assistance in a fast way.
- Satisfaction: it would be the summary of the 4 points mentioned above. Summed give a level of satisfaction for the user. It is a subjective topic of each user, but if the previous points are met, the user will be.
The image shown below would be the home of the famous Tripadvisor travel website. In it we can see how usability is perfectly represented. On the one hand we have the menu with everything you need, in addition to a search engine and the way to access your profile. Then, occupying practically the entire screen, we have an advanced search engine with everything necessary, the city we want to visit, the dates and the number of people, what else is needed?
The opposite case can be seen in the following image, a page of sale and rental of second-hand English cars. In short, the page is a mess. We start at the bottom of it with a strange mixture of colors, a web that is not intuitive at all, logos on all sides, the central image that changes color in an aggressive way. Of course the given image is not very good! If you want to visit this car rental page, here is the link.
The design process
The user-centered design processes consist of 4 users, and the principles of usability must be present in all the points explained below:
- Specification of the context of use: it consists in the identification of the users that interest the company, so that they will use it and under what conditions they will do it.
- Specification of requirements and needs: identification of any objective or need by users. In this step we are determining the different functionalities of the product.
- Technical and design solutions: this phase is also divided into stages. The important thing is to know the starting point, which would be the design and creation of a concept to the final point that would be the realization of tests to see if it is suitable.
- Design evaluation: the most important point to know if our product is suitable. Different types of tests and usability tests will be carried out. Once the tests are successfully passed, the product can be launched.
The first step to get a web or an app is to think how it should be. In the image shown we can see a mock up, that is, what would be the prototype of the web. From that design, from that base, the web page or app will be developed to obtain that same result.
How to evaluate the usability of a project?
There are different metrics to observe the quality of a project, but I will only highlight the 3 most important and main ones:
- Effectiveness: level of precision with which users perform tasks and achieve specific objectives.
- Efficiency: quantity and utility of resources used to achieve the specific objectives. That is, meet these objectives using the least possible time while the resources used are also low.
- Satisfaction: related to ease of use, ease of learning and positive opinions regarding the use of the product.
With these 3 ways to evaluate the usability of a project I finish my article about what usability is. I trust that you have found it interesting and that you realize the importance of good usability for any product, app or website. Search engines such as Google already value these aspects, and more than they will. What means usability? I am sure you know that now!
See you in the next article!