Usability

One of four dimensions of multimedia.

Usability is the same as "ease of use." It evaluates how easily and efficiently users can perform a task or achieve a goal, such as finding something. Some adjectives indicating usability are: clear, consistent, convenient, practical, and unambiguous.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines usability as "A set of attributes that bear on the effort needed for use, and on the individual assessment of such use, by a stated or implied set of users." or "The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use."

Components of usability

  1.  Navigation – the way users travel through the material using buttons, tool bars, links, etc. Users should know where they are, where they can go, how to get there, and how to return. Is the organization clear and simple? Are the locations of buttons and hot spots clear? Is it easy to find what you want? Is there a site map or directory? Is there a search box?
  2.  Feedback – does the material respond to user actions (animation, sound, color change, etc.)? Do users know when the material has accepted input? Is there a progress indicator when something takes time to load? Do you always know what’s happening?
  3.  Accessibility – the ability to make use of the material. Is it available to people with hearing or visual impairments? Are there technical limitations – platform (e.g., Windows only), browser (e.g., IE only), Java requirement, monitor size, etc.? Is it always available – up and running? Does the color scheme have enough contrast? Are images sufficiently large and sharp? 
  4. Consistency – things work the same everywhere

More

 

Readings

  1. "Usability 101: Introduction to Usability" – Jakob Nielsen, Alertbox, August 25, 2003
  2. "User Experience" pp. 27-54 in Apple Human Interface Guidelines, Apple Computer, January 15 2008
Citation: Clark, G. C., Clark, G. C. (2009, March 19). Usability. Retrieved October 25, 2014, from Notre Dame OpenCourseWare Web site: http://ocw.nd.edu/computer-applications/applied-multimedia-technology/four-dimensions/usability.
Copyright 2012, by the Contributing Authors. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Creative Commons License