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What is Usability in One Word?  

:: Friday, February 25, 2005 ::

John S. Rhodes asks "If we blasted "usability" into oblivion so that it could never be used again, what word or short phrase would replace it?"

Weird karma. Last night I couldn't sleep, and was wondering the exact same thing!

It's no secret that in usability-land, which is made up of folks from all kinds of backgrounds, nobody agrees on what usability is. It's been argued that usability testing is faulty because the science behind the methodolgy isn't even standard practice. There's disagreement on whether to call people "users". The goals for usability in design aren't universally understood, and yet we're asked to prove the return on investment anyway.

WebWord's John S. Rhodes first wiggled out some comments from Ron Zeno in a Cre8asiteForums thread called Usability or Donkey Design? (Or, Why do you love usability?).

RonZ wrote, "I don't see how usability is like Donkey Design or mathematics, though it might make sense to compare a specific usability testing method to Donkey Design. I don't think there is anything analogous to mathematics - testing methods are too specific while usability itself too vague."

In What is Usability in One Word?, John decides to dig into the sandbox.

He writes, "But the more I think about it, and the more I talk about it, I think usability is best summed up with this word:

--> EMPATHY <--

No word better describes the intent of usability."


For my search engine optimization and marketing friends, who are getting more and more interested in the user centered design side of web site enhancements, how we present ourselves as a user centered industry must be quite entertaining.

If we're so determined in our belief that things should work properly, wouldn't that include the ability to work together to make product improvements? Are we missing unified standards, or is it that nobody agrees on what they should be?

As for me, shortly before falling asleep and mulling this over, I decided usability design is the same as being co-dependent.

We'll just do anything to make your experience better.


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This is my last post until I return and recover from my trip to the Search Engine Strategies Conference in NYC

:: posted by Kim Krause Berg on 2/25/2005 11:50:00 AM

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