Usability is one of those terms that needs to be explained as easily as possible. There are many things related to usability that can only be explained using examples. Here’s one standard definition of the term:
Usability: Studies how a person interacts with an object to get the results that the object was made for.
Well, this is a vague explanation. The actual meaning of usability goes deeper, defining how the user interaction with an object should occur. These interactions can be as complex as the variety of user profiles and objects.
Let me give you an example:
Click here to enlarge picture
In the picture, note that there are as many objects as user types to solve the same problem. While the normal user probably will not find how to turn off the nuclear reactor with a paper clip, there’s no doubt that MacGyver will know. But MacGyver could get lost with the Fix-O-Matic because it is so simple to use.
The usability statement finds a way to bring solutions to users by understanding their interaction with objects. Usability related teams work on several components to resolve usability in the different phases of project development. These may include:
- User type definitions
- User needs and objectives
- User experience
These components also give us an idea about the main focus of usability: the end user. Usability reveals the real “use value” of products and services by giving the user an experience where he can move beyond exploring the product/service features and discover new uses and advantages of daily things. If we create objects to be used by humans we need to understand that it is not the object that does the job. How we use the object is what allows us to accomplish our task.
Usability just teaches us how to design those objects better.