What is Usability? Simply put, it's about making everyone's lives easier.
In a world where technology proliferates, technology also complicates. Every new option that technology opens for us also creates more decisions that have to be made, and more technology to maintain.
It doesn't have to be this way.
Technology can be cool. It can be fun. It can be simple. And painless.
In fact, that's the whole point. We don't build machines, design websites, or craft any human artifact merely for the thrill of it. The thrill of design and engineering is certainly a wonderful experience, but if that's the only reason, we ought to be considerate enough not to impose these things on others. We build things so that people can use them. And we want them to serve their purpose well.
Technology should be humane. It should be a benefit, not a liability. We want it to be safe, to be accessible to everyone, to enrich.
Usability is about fulfilling human aspirations.
It's about setting us free to think about the cool things we want to think about, not to figure out how to use this damn thing. It's not about: 'Where am I? What does that mean? Did I do something wrong? Did I lose my data? Will I have to stay late to fix this problem?' It's not about 'I give up.'
Usability is about letting people get back to business, back to nature, back to whatever it is they came here for. It's about making technology a facilitator, not a barrier. A time-saver, not a time-waster. It's about achieving dramatic simplicity. For everyone.
Achieving all this is no simple task. It's hard work. It means that designers need to spend time to get to know and think about the people they're building for. It means testing and refining and testing and inventing and re-inventing, thinking out of the box and pushing ourselves to a higher standard than we thought possible.
It means we all have to lack patience for poor design. And praise fabulous design: design characterized by simplicity, clarity, accessibility, joy, fulfillment.
>> For some thoughts on how we can accomplish this vision, read my Usability Philosophy.