I Am Surprised and Honored to Make Mashable’s List of Top 10 Must-Follow Usability Experts
Wow! I am very surprised and very humbled to be considered as a top 10 Must-Follow usability expert by Mashable. My name’s listed right up there with the likes of legends like J.M. Spool and the Nielsen Norman Group.
Of course, Mashable didn’t tell me this or warn me or anything – so this was a complete surprise, and a very nice surprise at that – once I figured out what was going on.
Actually, it was such a surprise that at first I thought a hacker had infiltrated my Twitter account and was having EVERYONE follow me! Follows were coming in at the rate of 10 to 20 a minute for a while! Since the coffee hadn’t taken full effect (it was after all about 6:30AM) I prepared to go “private” on my twitter profile – and change the password and alert Twitter to my hacked account!
Good thing I paused to actually read the Tweets that were coming in – which is when it dawned on me that I had received this great compliment, and the follows were “legit.”
So, here we are, talking about useful usability. As my readers will know (you and my mom – hi mom!) I’ve been
going on and on blogging about the benefits that usability can provide, and how easy it is to add usability to a web site or application project. I guess there’s now more reason than ever to blog about useful usability – as I like to call it.
What is “Useful Usability?”
In my mind, useful usability is three things:
- WHAT: Making usability useful by educating people about what usability is (and isn’t), the benefits of incorporating usability in web and application design, and why it’s good for business.
Although there’s a great sense of satisfaction in knowing that usability improvements can help the human condition, the reality is usability is most typically consumed by companies looking to sell, or help support the selling of their products.
If the usability is not directly involved in improving revenue generation (as part of the product, or application used to sell the product), it is used to improve applications (think employee intranet tools) that are used to support the business that sells the product.
The often-mentioned good usability of the iPod, Shuffle or iPhone IS the product, in the sense that it absolutely reflects the brand and the user experience that many consumers expect and are glad to pay for.
- WHERE: Providing useful usability best practices, tips and sometimes war-stories of where and how I and others actually go about adding usability to a project.
Just like going to the dentist, conducting usability testing and optimization early and often is the simplest and easiest way to eliminate
yucky plaque build-upweb site problems and get the biggest bang for your application development buck. Depending on where you are in the software (or hardware) development life cycle, differing methods of usability testing are needed to provide actionable and valid data.
Applying usability testing data to make real improvements can and should be validated using key performance indicators (KPIs). And make no mistake, usability will permanently improve conversion of web sites.
- HOW: Demonstrating that usability does not have to be cumbersome or expensive. Usability can be done quickly, efficiently and for low or no cost.
Saving money by using low cost usability methods is a great idea. Saving money by not using a usability expert to conduct usability testing and optimization is a very bad idea.
That’s because usability testing is not about gathering lots of opinions (that’s the world of surveys and error rates and statistical significance). Usability testing is not about asking a few users to pretend to use the site and tell you what they like or don’t like (that’s using one person’s opinion to base business-critical decisions on – ouch).
Usability testing is typically about applying detailed Personas to a specific set of critical tasks using a carefully controlled 1-on-1 performance based test to evaluate precisely where issues are in a task flow.
Only by consistently observing the same task flow errors being repeated again and again can a verifiable usability error be uncovered – and optimizations recommended.
So that’s my take on usability and what I believe useful usability is all about.
I sincerely hope my usability posts will help you in your goal of using or understanding usability. And please add your comments, suggestions or
rants thoughts about usability – together we can all grow more informed about usability!