Usability is a relatively simple concept:
Make it easy for people to do things and make sure the user gets the result they expect.
But, achieving perfect usability on websites, in apps and software is often easier said than done and, while many come very close to it, many (or should I say most) fall a long way short of making the user feel at ease with the ‘system’ they are using.
Don’t Underestimated The Value & Power of Simplicity
Even the biggest and most popular websites like Amazon and Ebay are constantly tweaking, finding ways to make the user experience better – which is why they continue to be the most popular websites.
Same can be said for software and apps – if the user can’t use it easily and without frustration (making the user think) they will simply stop using it. Bail out and find an alternative solution.
As a generation of gadget freaks and techno-heads (admit it, you like your gadgets most of the time) we do tend to (and enjoy being able to) surround ourselves with loads of unnecessary devices but, at the end of the day, if they don’t do what they are supposed to do quickly and easily, we will (and do) abandon them.
People love simple and dependable products and services. By comparison, complex and intimidating revs up the opposite side of human emotions.
How Would Apple do it?
The first time I bought a MacBook Pro I was amazed not only by it’s beautiful design but what it didn’t have. It has an amazing screen, a keyboard, a mouse-pad (tack pad) and places to plug things in. That’s it. And that’s the way Apple design their devices.
Simple, useable and reliable.
Compare that to all the unnecessary extra buttons and lighty-up-bits found on the vast array of Windows based laptops and you’ll see why starting up and using a Mac is such a breath of fresh air.
It always amazes me when I ask clients if they know how to change settings on their car stereo (bass, treble, fader, equaliser, favourite radio stations) and they don’t know how to. So they leave them as-is. Factory settings.
I shouldn’t really be that surprised because I cannot fathom how to get the time to display on the stereo in my wife’s car. I did it once but can’t for the life of me remember how I did it.
Unnecessary features (bells and whistles) are vastly overrated.