Thursday, April 23, 2009

Useful, Usable and Desirable: Usability as a Core Development Competence

What makes a product usable? ...

"Every now and then I need an "elevator speech" to explain why design matters. An elevator speech, in case you haven't come across the term, is an explanation that can be delivered in the time it takes to get from the lobby of an office building to the 10th floor. I usually tell people that as a user experience designer my job is to design interactive products that are useful, usable and desirable. The phrase useful, usable and desirable resonates with me because it captures the outcome we hope for with every development project.

Most every interactive product we develop—whether it's an application, a game, a Web site or a mobile device—is some form of tool.
And no tool can be successful without being useful. Creating useful products has been a fundamental goal of the development community from the beginning and a lot of good thinking has gone into figuring out how best to understand and document requirements. Getting the functionality right, however, is only part of what makes a tool useful.

Useful—The Foundation of User Satisfaction

Recently I came across the phrase "usability exposes usefulness" and I thought it was an interesting comment. Finding functionality and being able to use it in the way you want requires a usable design. Obviously, the more usable a tool is, the better it works and the more useful it is. So if we want to build truly excellent products, they must be usable; you can't really make a truly useful tool if it's not really usable.

Desirability refers to a person's affective (emotional) feelings about a product. Many factors affect the desirability of a product. Four of the most useful are shown in a model I developed which I call the "E3T model." E3T refers to the four dimensions shown in Figure 1.
How important is desirability? It's obvious that products we develop for sale be highly desirable, to attract and retain users. But even within the business world, people are demanding more from software products, and they know good design when they see it."    (Continued via MSDN, Charles B. Kreitzberg and Ambrose Little)    [Usability Resources]

The E3T Model - Usability, User Interface Design

The E3T Model


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