Usability

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Usability is the ease of use and learnability of a human-made object such as a tool or device. The object of use can be a software application, website, book, tool, machine, process, vehicle, or anything a human interacts with.

A usability study may be conducted as a primary job function by a usability analyst or as a secondary job function by designers, technical writers, marketing personnel, and others. It is widely used in consumer electronics, communication, and knowledge transfer objects (such as a cookbook, a document or online help) and mechanical objects such as a door handle or a hammer.

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Usability includes methods of measuring usability, such as needs analysis and the study of the principles behind an object’s perceived efficiency or elegance.

Usability considers user satisfaction and utility as quality components, and aims to improve user experience through iterative design.

The key benefits of usability are:

  • Higher revenues through increased sales
  • Increased user efficiency and user satisfaction
  • Reduced development costs
  • Reduced support costs

An increase in usability generally positively affects several facets of a company’s output quality. In particular, the benefits fall into several common areas:

  • Increased productivity
  • Decreased training and support costs
  • Increased sales and revenues
  • Reduced development time and costs
  • Reduced maintenance costs
  • Increased customer satisfaction

Increased usability in the workplace fosters several responses from employees. Workers who enjoy their work do it better, stay longer in the face of temptation, and contribute ideas and enthusiasm to the evolution of enhanced productivity.