Sunday, January 21, 2007

Usability Training I attended - Part 1

After recovering from the stress of 15 hrs of Usability training that I attended in my organization I am writing this article to share with you some key learnings on Usability and how it ultimately affects the Brand.

The first thing I learnt in the 2 day training attended for usability was, how do we define Usability? The definiton is as below;

"Usability refers to 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 user"

I liked this definiton as much as the trainer Mr. Atul Manohar. In the first day of the training we covered the fundamental concepts of Usability & the second day was all about Usability methodologies & various tasks were given to us. (I will share with you the same subsequently).

Well, it was indeed very fascinating to learn how we humans interact with the computer. Atul quipped in by saying "Master & Slave" relationship is what we expect when interacting with the computer. True to a certain extent I must admit. The 5 layers of User Experience as explained by Jesse James Garrett the "Usability Guru" was discussed in detail (click image to enlarge)

The key take being that "UI design" is the last step towards building a particular product or web application. Why? Because we need to;
  1. Understand business & User goals - Strategy

  2. Define functional specifications & content requirements - Scope

  3. Define Information Architecture - Structure

  4. Define navigation & information design - Skeleton

  5. Finally Prepare UI design - Surface

Once the bottom 4 layers are well planned then UI design becomes more specific to the user. As UI design always is subjective any iterations on the UI design (every client does this) would be only on look & feel and less of content changes or re-arrangement. This reduces the work load on the UI designer and most importantly the product meets it's purpose of providing an enhanced "User Experience".

As mentioned earlier we are living in an "Era of User Experience". Every user wants his product or website "Simple","Easy" & "quick to learn". In other words it is effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction that every user wants to experience both in the virtual & real world. Now, let us look at some research data to analyze how good or bad online User Experience affects the perception of the brand the user interacts with. (click image to enlarge)

The bottom line being that the interaction of a customer with your company's website directly impacts the brand perception & loyalty.So, it's time that the websites are designed keeping this in mind and realize the importance of adhering Usability standards & methodologies.

Rest in the next.......... "Come on" people. Speak up!


No comments: