Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 25th Oct 2007 16:52 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces This is the first article in a series on common usability and graphical user interface related terms. On the internet, and especially in forum discussions like we all have here on OSNews, it is almost certain that in any given discussion, someone will most likely bring up usability and GUI related terms - things like spatial memory, widgets, consistency, Fitts' Law, and more. The aim of this series is to explain these terms, learn something about their origins, and finally rate their importance in the field of usability and (graphical) user interface design. We start off with spatial memory - my personal favourite.
Thread beginning with comment 280839
To view parent comment, click here.
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
RIchard James13
Member since:
2007-10-26

"[Usability refers to] the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use." - ISO 9241-11

I got that by going to google and define usability.

The third link down was
http://www.upassoc.org/usability_resources/about_usability/definiti...

Who would have thought that it was an International Standard.

Googleing "ISO 9241-11" brings up more information.

Reply Parent Score: 2

yorthen Member since:
2005-07-06

"[Usability refers to] the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use." - ISO 9241-11


Nice to have that in a standard. One thing that I have noticed is that most articles on usability actually focus on "learnability" (how easy it is to use an interface you have never seen before). I hope that this series will not be yet another one of those.

I like to show the difference between learnability and usability by comparing Notepad and Vim. None has ever said that Vim is easy to learn, Notepad on the other hand is very easy to learn. But when it comes to actually using those programs to perform some text editing (such as modifying source code) an experienced user will perform the task much faster and more efficient in Vim than in Notepad.

A consistent UI is great for learnability but it is not necessarily good for usability. That is simply because some common UI principles are not well matched to certain tasks and will force the user into inefficient procedures (which can be easy to learn but which takes more effort to perform).

Reply Parent Score: 1

John Nilsson Member since:
2005-07-06

I wrote a litte text a while ago explaining that sentence. Might be interesting:

https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Usability

Edited 2007-10-27 23:10

Reply Parent Score: 2

troc Member since:
2006-05-01

This definition of usability is based on arbitrary concepts such as 'goals' and 'satisfaction'. This is never going to develop into repeatable or transferable methodologies.

What makes a good sofa, alarm clock or UI ? Who can tell.

You should leave interface design to be the craft that it is; with its market, traditions and apprenticeships. Perhaps one day it will get the respect it craves (and deserves) instead of the derision it so openly invites.

Reply Parent Score: 1