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Who Says Usability Isn’t Funny?

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Usability and user centered designers, and those passionate about user behavior for everything from Internet applications, to search engines, to products you use everyday, sometimes come across as control freaks, anal retentive, irritating, boring, and demanding.

One usability practitioner will scare you half to death by insisting that unless you use the color blue and underline decoration in all links, your site will shrivel up from lack of use. The other will not care or not note it in the report because they feel this is trivial in today’s Web 2.0 environment. Instead, they look to see why people are abandoning home pages upon arrival, or not completing online applications and shopping carts.

I’ve developed my own way of reviewing sites over the years to be able to do it virtually without traveling to be on-site. I have my own style of approach, coverage and delivery. This means that if you were to hire two usability consultants, in all probability, you would receive two very different reports. (This has already been proven in a case study performed by Rolf Molich.)

Peter Meyers, in The paradox of usability wrote,

“Nothing is really usable until you learn how to use it.”

Maybe usability consultants are “enabler” personalities. Are we so bound and determined to fix every possible little thing so that anyone can use it, or are we better utilized earlier in a design process, where something is designed to be used in an obvious way from the start?

I can’t remember where I got this from, but I often mention it to clients.

“If you need a FAQ to help people understand how to use your website, then it wasn’t designed right.”

I tend to simplify things. It’s a habit. I’m not good with doctorate-speak. For me, user centered design is an invitation to explore further. It’s no different than spending an hour on your hair, or finding the perfect clothing that shows off your hotness. Everytime you want something from somebody, you will do something to first attract (marketing, search engine optimziation, advertising) and then deliver your “product” once you snare your visitors (value proposition, limited sale item, accessible website).

If your belly button is hiding, and you want someone to find it, show them where it is. This is all usability is. And it can be terribly difficult to do with websites and applications because there are often too many ways to lift up a shirt.

Usability Humor

(Hat tip Greg Scowen).

Who says usability isn’t funny?

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