Usability is the degree to which people can perform a set of required tasks. It is the product of several, conflicting design goals.
a. Functionally correct
b. Efficient to use
c. Easy to learn
d. Easy to remember
e. Error tolerant
f. Subjectively pleasing
Importance of usability for web sites:
Web browsers have become an important entity for communication between businesses and commerce in the e-business. The entire system is in a tremendous shift from vast technological structures within the business organizations.
A highly usable web site is intuitive and transparent. It supports the users and allow them to accomplish their goals/tasks quickly and easily.
On the other hand, a poor usability portends that people using the web site cannot efficiently perform the tasks intended. This usability emanates from overly complex web sites and can cause a huge number of user errors, or simply people just don’t like making use of your system.(Brinck et al., 2002)
In addition, businesses are continuing to increase their productivity, with information technology playing a major role. Heightened production is vital for gaining competitive advantage.
Problems associated with web usability
a. Human perception.
This comes about when pages are designed according to how the underlying information is physically stored rather than how information best meets the user needs. This strategy is 2 face coined in that it can make page delivery and maintenance efficient or make user’s task slow and error prone.
b. Human memory.
There are three primary memory issues to take into account as you design a web; if too many items need to be remembered (there’s high chance of something to be forgotten); long time frame for something to be remembered means more likely to be forgotten.
c. Database integration.
A common problem is that information that a user sees gets out of sync with information in the serving database.
Getting around Links:
Links are closely tied to the structure of the site and the patterns by which users traverse the site. They are the mechanism by which a user moves from one place of a web site/page to another. Successful link structures can help users navigate the site more effectively. (Spool, 1999).
The success of a link depends on:
a. How well the user can predict where the link will lead.
b. How well the user can differentiate one link from another (especially a nearby link)
Design principles, elements and visual communication:
Web designers can come up with normalcy out of ambiguity. They can vividly create ideas through the organization and manipulation of words and pictures.(Kripintiris, 2008). Web design follows inherited principles and elements from other types of design but also has its own unique characteristics. The blend makes web design a sophisticated process, which needs the expertise of several different skilled personnel; experienced architectures, web designers, etc.
The user Environment:
The user environment in web usability aspect is divided into two areas. The physical space and the Cognitive space. Therefore, designing suitable web sites requires an understanding by the designer of the user’s Web ecology- the completeness of relations between Web users and their environments (Badre, 2002).
a. The Physical Space:
This is the actual physical environment in which Web uses function, perform, make and execute decisions relative to a selected Web site. Their environment can be the office, home, school or public venue. The elements of the physical space that can affect the user’s interaction with the Web include:
i. Physical space objects.
ii. Interrelationships of objects.
iii. Characteristics of objects.
iv. Physical location.
b. The Cognitive Space:
this is composed of many factors such as individual thought processes, impressions, perspectives, plans, goals and concerns that are specific to the individual. The user’s cognitive space consists of:
i. Thoughts triggered by the physical space.
ii. Current situation induced thoughts.
Measuring the user experience:
online usability studies are practicably the most efficient way to collect detailed and scalable usability metrics. For instance, you might be interested in identifying reliable patterns in user preferences, detecting performance differences in subtle design options or reliable measurement of the impacts of task performance on satisfaction (Albert et al., 2009).
Albert, W., Tullis, T., Tedesco, D., 2009. Beyond the Usability Lab: Conducting Large-scale Online User Experience Studies. Morgan Kaufmann.
Badre, A., 2002. Shaping Web Usability: Interaction Design in Context. Addison-Wesley Professional.
Brinck, T., Gergle, D., Wood, S.D., 2002. Designing Web Sites that Work: Usability for the Web. Morgan Kaufmann.
Kripintiris, K.E., 2008. Web Aesthetics and Usability: An Empirical Evaluation of White Space. ProQuest.
Spool, J.M., 1999. Web Site Usability: A Designer’s Guide. Morgan Kaufmann.
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