Thursday, August 17, 2006

Feature: Must Usability Die?

Interesting thoughts on the perception of usability...

"Usability is a discipline which seeks to achieve positive outcomes, yet in some corners it has developed a negative image – as witnessed by the website usabilitymustdie.com. This article explores some of the reasons as to why this negative image may exist.

One of the attractive aspects of usability is that it is a positive discipline. Reading the ISO standards definition of usability, one encounters words such as 'effective', 'efficient' and 'satisfying', while the goal of the discipline is ultimately to make things better for people. So what could be wrong with that? Recently the website "Usability Must Die” came to our attention. Having worked in ‘usability’ for over 30 years between us, we were intrigued. So, what is the website all about?

Chris McEvoy, creator of the website, identifies problems associated with the increasing popularity of usability over the last 10 years. One is the creation of solutions that solve one problem, only to create a much worse one. Another is a certain smugness from usability practitioners who are good at criticising, but fail to deliver better designs themselves.

Essentially, the problems mentioned in the website come down to usability done badly: the blind and inappropriate following of rules without a full understanding of the tools and methods which lead to an understanding of the bigger picture. How is it that usability has got to this stage?"   (Continued via Usability News)   [Usability Resources]

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