It's November 12th! -- It's World Usability Day!
Ever yelled at your phone? Ever pulled a door handle when it's meant to be pushed? Ever got your head stuck in a railing? (that only happened one time). The list is endless and that's why usability is more important than you think.
Usability is the ease of use and learnability of a human-made object. Usability is removing roadblocks --The ability to do something easily. Usability is good design.
It's shocking that design has been around for so long and usability is a relatively new field (around the 1980s). Luckily it's making up for lost time, growing like wildfire among designers and businesses alike.
I have three core rules around keeping user-friendly design in mind.
My first rule of usability: It's never the user's fault. Designers must aim to understand and accommodate. Every designer should have a solid understanding of usability. Often at work I feel more like a researcher and problem-solver than a visual designer.
My second rule of usability: Always sacrifice a gorgeous design in favor of better usability. Ideally, there is both! But if forced to forgo, studies have shown, and most would agree, that something easy to use always trumps something beautiful to look at (just think of the last time you yelled at an inanimate object).
My last rule of usability: Design for the user, not for yourself. This is where research comes in, which could be a book in itself. Remember your audience, how would they interact with this product?
So next time you can't enter a building without feeling like a fool, or want to throw the remote across the room, remember, it's not your fault. It's the designer's responsibility to make it easy to use. And at the rate usability and technology is growing the future looks bright.
If you hate doors as much as I do check out these 'Norman Doors' coined after Don Norman, the father of human-centered design.