All About Website Usability Blog – Holly Phillips


The coming evolution of usability, part 1
February 15, 2010, 4:13 am
Filed under: customer-centered-design, visual design

A change is coming over the usability field, and it promises to help move websites into a whole new realm of usefulness.  This change is a natural result of the evolution of design for usability. 

In the early days, the focus was on making websites usable:  making pages scannable, ensuring links conveyed the right scent and navigation was clear, making processes clear and straightforward, etc.  In essence, it was all about removing frustration and obstacles to using a site.

But now that we’ve grown as an industry and most sites follow at least basic usability rules, we’ve come to realize that this is not enough.  A user may be able to easily complete his task, but if it’s a hum-drum boring experience he’s likely to be merely satisfied and not happy, delighted, or eager to return.

I’m starting to see glimmers of this realization all over the place:

  • Stephen Anderson calls it “seductive interactions”
  • RJ Owen calls it “the differences between usability and user experience”
  • Forrester signals it by including “enjoyability” as one of the primary drivers of satisfaction
  • We see it in our own research that shows that traditional elements of usability account for only 60% of a visitor’s satisfaction with the experience

The question now is:  how do we advance from a site that’s perfectly usable to one that’s engaging and fun?  The answer to that is really the marriage of interaction design, visual design, and visitor engagement.  And it promises to open the door to a world of new possibilities.

(to be continued in next week’s blog)

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