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Usability And You. By Jonah Fulmer & Robin Riddle. What is Usability?.

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Usability and you
Usability And You


Jonah Fulmer


Robin Riddle

What is usability
What is Usability?

  • Usability is a generic term that refers to design features that enable something to be user-friendly. The term, and the concepts it encompasses, can be applied to anything from a paring knife to a space station (Web definition).

  • It is also the measure of a user’s experience when interacting with a product or system.

Why is usability important
Why is Usability Important?

  • When you go to a store that encompasses the concept of usability, you come out a satisfied customer. You tell your friends about the experience. The store’s profit increases exponentially through every word-of-mouth advertisement.

  • It helps to increase productivity.

  • For web-sites, it makes the browsing (or purchasing) experience more enjoyable

  • It reduces errors.

  • It reduces Support Costs.

  • The list goes on and on.

What factors contribute to usability
What Factors Contribute to Usability?

  • Maintainability – Does it require little maintenance, or does it require constant attention?

  • Efficiency – Is this product effective at what it is supposed to do?

  • Performance - Does it perform the task for which it was created? Can it perform under harsh conditions?

  • Functionality - Is this piece of equipment worth the money you spent on it? Does it operate at a efficient level?

  • Reliability – Can it be depended upon when needed?

Usability testing
Usability Testing

The focus of usability testing is to observe the users experience with a product or process. There are aspects that you would probably conclude are necessary to perform such tests. Here are some examples:

  • What is it like?

  • Do you need a lab for the testing?

  • How many participants do you need?

  • How much does it cost?

The answer to these questions is quite simple.

Usability testing continued
Usability Testing Continued

  • It is not painful, that is for sure.

  • No

  • Anywhere from one to many

  • Little to nothing

Area s where usability is observed
Area’s Where usability is Observed

  • Usability and the Web

  • Usability in industry

  • How commerce employees usability

  • Usability in the Home

  • Ergonomics

Usability and the web
Usability and the Web

Usability is very influential on the Web. Page designers want your experience at their site to something that you remember. Not something that turns you stomach in frustration. So what are some of the factors that they consider when designing a web page?

  • Make sure that the sites purpose is clear

  • Help users find what they need

  • Reveal Site content

Usability and the web continued
Usability and the Web Continued

  • Use visual design to enhance the page, not overrun it.

  • Limit as many annoyances as possible, such as pop-ups.

  • Make sure that all buttons, links and directional applications are clear and concise.

Usability and industry
Usability and Industry

Industry has aspects that where made much easier thanks to usability research. Take manufacturing for example. In olden days when companies produced goods the product was created at a workstation by one person. This was a tedious, long processes. Today we have Henry ford to thank for the concept of manufacturing lines that are able to produce products at a much higher rate, because of the amount of people that could work on different aspects of a product.

Usability and commerce
Usability and Commerce

Business commerce is definitely a forerunner in the field of Usability. More businesses today are discovering new ways to employee usability than ever before. E-commerce has also kept step with the changing tides of usability. Some excellent examples of businesses that have kept usability as driving factor in their strive to please the customers are as follows:

  • Dell (E-Commerce)

  • MacDonald's

Usability and commerce continued
Usability and Commerce Continued

  • Wal-Mart

  • Lowes

  • Home Depot

  • Malls in general

All of these companies incorporate usability into their business.

Usability in the home
Usability in the Home

How is usability applied to the home you might ask? As I have said before, usability standards can be applied to anything. Even to the environment that we call home. Some examples of usability in the home are:

  • Cleaning Technologies

  • Plumbing Facilities

  • Electrical appliances

Usability in the home continued
Usability in the Home Continued

  • Eating Utensils

  • Heating and Cooling


Finally we come to a branch of business whose sole purpose is to improve usability standards. In every area of life ergonomics is used, and continuing to improve. Even today Companies such as ESRI ( are striving to make the world a much more usable place. Some current projects that are being worked on are as follows.

Ergonomics continued
Ergonomics Continued

  • Research into why people take risks when working at great heights

  • Job placement for the mentally challenged, and elderly

  • Making the information highway (internet) more accessible for a wide range of persons.

  • Smart Home development for the Elderly.

Student talkback
Student Talkback

Now that we have given you examples and explanations about usability we would like you to give us an example of usability and how it applies to this concept.




  • Dr. Kardas’ site