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Why Usability is Important to You

Usability is the measure of the quality of a user's experience when interacting with a product or system - whether a web site, software application, mobile technology, or any user-operated device.

According to Usability Expert Jakob Nielsen: "On the Web, usability is a necessary condition for survival. If a web site is difficult to use, people leave. If the homepage fails to clearly state what a company offers and what users can do on the site, people leave.

If users get lost on a web site, they leave. If a web site's information is hard to read or doesn't answer users' key questions, they leave. Note a pattern here? There's no such thing as a user reading a web site manual or otherwise spending much time trying to figure out an interface.

There are plenty of other web sites available; leaving is the first line of defense when users encounter a difficulty."


What is usability

Is your web site usable? There are several definitions for usability, but basically the following 4 characteristics can be considered usable:

* Quick and easy to learn;
* Efficient to use;
* Allows rapid recovery from errors;
* Easy to remember;

Does your product or web site have the above characteristics? Usability increases benefits for both parties: the User (potential customers) and the Provider (yourself).

Users benefits from usability

* Users are satisfied, not frustrated, with the product or web site;
* They enjoy interacting with the web site or product;
* They achieve their goals effectively and efficiently;
* They cultivate confidence and trust in the product or web site.

If your users are satisfied, they will become loyal, and may even recommend your product or service to others.

Providers benefits from usability

As a provider, you may benefit from usability in many ways, including:

* Reduced development time and costs;
* Reduced support costs;
* Reduced user errors;
* Reduced training time and costs;
* Return on Investment.

Misconceptions about usability

Misconceptions about usability's expense," Jakob Nielsen says, "the time it involves, and its creative impact prevent companies from getting crucial user data, as does the erroneous belief that existing customer-feedback methods are a valid driver for interface design."


How can usability can save your company

After all, have you ever wished there was one place that contained a list of everything you need to know to make your web site user-friendly? If yes, have a look at this "User Interface Usability Checklist for Ecommerce Web sites" here:

About the Author

John S. Britsios is Accessibility & SEO Consultant, Usability Specialist & Trainer, founder and owner of the Webnauts Net

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