Usability is about people and how they understand and use things, not about technology.
Website & app usability design solutions for your business.
Website & app usability design solutions for your business.
What is usability?
Officially, usability is a term that can be described as ‘ease of use’. It talks about how easy something is to use (eg a keyboard, a drill or a website) and how easy something is to understand. User-friendliness is the most comprehensive term for this. Within the digital design sector, which deals with the design and development of websites, apps and digital interfaces, I officially talk about ‘website usability’ or ‘interface usability’. So to be more specific than the generic term. However, the term usability has been so claimed by (mainly) web design that usability and ‘website usability’ nowadays often mean the same thing. When I talk about usability on this website, it is therefore only about the usability of websites or apps.
My view on usability
Within large companies, usability experts are deployed on in-depth and very specific work, involving user testing (analyzing users while they use the product), creating large charts and wireframes to devise processes and much more. Personally, I have more of a broad approach rather than a deep one. Many of my clients have been helped a lot with the 20% of improvements that typically make 80% of the difference in their product. I often work with SMEs and freelancers and usually these are entrepreneurs who prefer to see the greatest possible impact for their investment. They often don’t have the time to fund weeks of research or conduct large amounts of user tests, but they do see the great importance of user-friendliness. My role as a usability expert for this target group is therefore often that of a consultant. As a website consultant, I look along, I think along, I reason along and I assess their website or app and I look for as many points for improvement as possible in the time that their budget allows me. I then classify these points for improvement into a list of action steps with which these entrepreneurs can get started themselves.
What can I do for you in terms of usability?
MIf you think you have been helped by someone who takes a look at the usability of your website or app, then my door is open for you. I like to think along with you, and as a consultant and sparring partner I have provided many entrepreneurs with ideas, advice and eye-openers since 2000. The impact of usability or its improvements is usually large, and they can therefore make a big difference in the appreciation of your product or the conversion of your website. In addition, it is often the case that you are very involved in your own website or app and can no longer look objectively and critically at potential points for improvement. Even at those moments, a view from the outside is often extremely valuable. Within these projects I usually act as both a consultant and a ‘teacher’ because knowing ‘why something can be done differently’ is generally just as valuable as ‘how it can be done better’. In short; motivation (which involves psychology) is very important. And if you know it, the insight will last longer. As a consultant I can also switch between the roles of usability expert and user experience specialist, because that is also a field in which I am very familiar. Where usability focuses on ease of use, because that is also a field in which I am very at home. Where usability focuses on ease of use, because that is also a field in which I am very at home. Where usability focuses on ease of use,user experience design focuses primarily on user enjoyment. This is also a more psychological branch of the design sector and user experience design deals with questions such as: How do we ensure that a user has fun using this product? How do we gain the trust of our user? How can we turn filling in a lot of data from a boring task into an enjoyable one that leaves you with a sense of victory and achievement? etc.
What is Information architecture?
Information architecture is an important sub-part of usability
I see information architecture as presenting and arranging information as logically and elegantly as possible. This can be within a website or app (interactive). But I also see myself as an information architect in, for example, designing identity books. I think extremely critically about what I want to say, how I do it in as few words as possible, which are as clear as possible, and how I present all this in the most optimal place. In essence, I see this skill as a cross between copywriting, usability and user experience design. And I personally view this mix of skills through the eyes of a minimalist. In short; I want to create as much clarity as possible with as few resources as possible. And there is a great deal of overlap with what is now my specialism: Logo Design . Also in logo design it is my mission to distill a complex idea or concept into a simple image that makes a statement. But where information architecture focuses on language, I do it within logo design in a visual way.
Know the real value of Usability in digital era.
Usability has a direct impact on the ease of use of your website or app and therefore has a direct impact on the perception and feeling that a user has with your website or app. If an interface or layout is frustrating to use, or unpredictable in terms of layout, this could not only have a negative effect on the website itself, for example, but a user often extends this to an entire product, an entire company or even an entire sector. It can determine whether a user clicks away directly to the competitor, or whether he uses your software under his breath because there is simply no alternative. The fact remains that usability is very important because it focuses on empathy. In many cases – but certainly in the case of usability – I really work for my client’s customer in the role of usability expert. The end user, so to speak. This end-user is critical, very impatient and has more alternatives than ever these days.
Years back when the miracle of the Internet was just arriving, the user was more flexible. Everything was a gift and it was great that everything worked at all. Today, the requirements are (rightly) much higher. The internet is more mature and a competitive battle has ensured that the level of design and usability has increased enormously in recent years. In addition, people usually have a smaller screen at their disposal (as a result of the smartphone revolution) in which usability is extra important. There is less space to show everything (especially if you want to keep it readable) and you can store far fewer controls on such screens (unlike, for example, the large menus you used to see on the left side of websites). Partly for this reason, usability is a very important branch of sport within the design sector. And it is one of the disciplines that deals with psychology to a very large extent, just like user experience design and interaction design . That is why it has always attracted me (because of my great interest in psychology).
Usability itself is just something that is difficult to capture. It’s one of those things where (if you do it right) you don’t hear much from your user. And where a bad experience can lead to a large amount of criticism or your user simply goes to another person. With visual design or graphic design for example, something can be ugly, neutral or beautiful. In the case of ‘beautiful’, as a designer you often hear the compliments, but even if it is ugly you often hear little about it. Maybe because there is so much bad design. With usability, it’s almost just neutral or bad. It can always feel better or easier. And when it’s bad, the entire experience of a product is directly negatively impacted. In fact, it’s like with something as simple as a door handle. If the door handle works, then people see it as logical and nobody is lyrical about the fact that their door handle ‘does well’. But if the door handle works completely differently than you expect or if it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do at all, it quickly becomes a ‘retarded product’. So there is less credit to be gained in the usability discipline than in other areas of design, which is a shame. Because good usability experts influence our daily lives in a very radical way. And often in a very positive sense.
A usability study has several advantages. Which are those?
Following are some benefits of using a usability survey:
Improving user experience is possible
These tests allow you to evaluate and improve your solution to meet the expectations of your goals. You can improve business results by improving the user experience and therefore also the product experience.
Identifying your unique value proposition
Knowing what sets your offering apart from the competition in a highly competitive and fast-growing digital market is essential. The unique value proposition (UVP) of your product can be understood and validated through this kind of usability research.
For example, you might think of your UVP as the price, but your buyers also appreciate certain features you offer.
Identify the pain points or blocking factors
As early as possible during the product design phase, you can identify your customers’ habits, needs and concerns to reduce costs and development time.
You can make your offer more targeted and adaptable by improving usability.
A usability study is an important tool in UX – qualitative research, but it should not be the only one. It’s impossible to improve usability as a whole if you focus solely on testing activities.
Usability research is necessary
It is important that designers ensure that digital interfaces are user-friendly. This refers to the ease with which readers can process specified information. A good understanding of the users is essential for an optimal design. A usability study plays an important role in finding possible bottlenecks in usability .
With a usability test you collect valuable insights about your app or web application. During a good test you let people interact with your app or web application and observe the behavior and reactions of these people. In this article we explain why usability testing is a good idea and we tell you how to get started.
Let’s talk about the why first . If you have an app or web application, or you are designing and developing a new one, usability testing (or user testing) is a must have. The usability testing method I’m going to explain is simple, inexpensive, and will give you the insights you need to make your product great. Essentially, usability testing will help you in three ways:
Discover opportunities to improve your product.
Identify problems in your product design.
Learn more about your users’ behavior and preferences.
Two major pitfalls in usability testing
Assuming you already know everything
A common pitfall is assuming that you (and your colleagues) have all the knowledge you need to build a great product. But that is precisely the problem! Your product will have to work for customers who know nothing about it. Knowledge is actually a burden, because you cannot not know what you already know. Usability testing will test whether the product is intuitive enough to enable a pleasant user experience.
Want to keep it a secret
When I hear “we don’t want to show anyone what we’re doing yet”, I get triggered. Of course, in rare cases you can’t help but keep your project a secret. But in most cases, it’s a very good idea to get your idea out there as soon as possible. You may be afraid that your idea will be stolen, but also remember that those “copycats” don’t have the unique combination of talent, time and network to successfully implement your idea, you do! I am in favour of using usability testing as a way to get early feedback from the market.
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