Usability – Part I

3 min read
Design - Igniting Your Startup


Usability means so many things, in so many ways… in the end only to be just one thing – a quality attribute of a website, along utility. Put your bathing suit on and let’s dive into it!

“Yeah, yeah… Give me more specifics!”

Usability is defined by its five components:

  • Learnability – How fast are users accommodated with the design after laying, for the first time, their eyes on the website?
  • Efficiency – How quickly can users perform actions on the website?
  • Memorability – How proficient-friendly is the website, referring to the return of a user?
  • Error – How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors?
  • Satisfaction – How pleasant is for a user to use the website and what’s his/her general impression about the browsing experience?

Usability cannot be directly measured and that’s exactly why you should understand the need of constant inspections and surveys.

“Why oh why are you making such a big deal out of it?”

I’m taking a big risk here, possibly attracting a lot of criticism, by making the following statement: from the invention of the web and its growth (the 80’s – 90’s) until today, the Internet made only one step ahead – he reached an acceptable functional and visual form.

And now, more than ever, we need to understand that this “world” should embrace everybody. In the real-life there are everlasting fights against racism and discrimination, while on the web impaired people, people that can’t use properly all functions of their bodies, are almost totally ignored. Hey everybody, wake up – 35 years passed from Internet’s invention – there are still people who are far from (easily) browsing the web!

Why the fuck isn’t a Manifesto out there already? One from which we can all learn. It’s a common effort – browsers should get better, websites developers should focus on making them more friendly and start taking advantage of the Accessibility features of an operating system.

The blunt truth is we’re scarred and don’t have a clue from where to start! Here’s a hint – start from anywhere, just start already!

Examples for clouded minds

I’m not referring only to a situation in which a website can be accessed by a blind person. Here are some examples in which a user’s experience will get broken:

  • Human memory has its limits. When we’re browsing the web, literally tons of information hits us in the head. Boom! Tons and tons… And where’s the problem? We cannot retain that much data at once, we need time to digest it. If websites builders could understand the need of segregated data displayed on the screen, we would all have more peaceful lives.
  • Not everybody has a 20/20 vision. I hate it so much… SO MUCH… when I’m going to a website and I’m getting in return a page with tiny, crappy fonts. To this add also the lack of a proper contrast. Stop destroying our eyes you dumb morons!
  • We’re not gymnasts. Some people have motor disabilities – what’s your opinion on this? Do you think they’re having a blast while navigating a website that has only drag and drop functionality in its forms, a website that doesn’t offer an alternative?

I could go on and on, but you got the picture.

Pause and come back later

Hopefully, now you’re understanding the need of rethinking our Web approach. In the next article we’ll see how to study and improve usability, and we’re also going to learn about Heuristic Evaluation.

Stay tuned!

Interesting read?

About Ciprian Irimies

Ciprian is an UX Ninja, but what really makes him stand out of a crowd is the desire to venture into the unknown, to boldly face new challenges and the lack of hair on his head.