Usability Dimension: “Desirable”

by Vishal Mehta on January 6, 2011

in Brand Identity, Usability Dimensions, Web Design

DESIRABLE.

We saw few examples of useful and usable sites and applications. This feature is on “desirable”.

“Form follows function” is an age old principle. Everyone is up for beauty. Good looks (form) works like a charm, in any industry, at times even at the expense of function. You may be witness to a great looking movie star, less on acting skills gather more fan following than an average looking, but great actor. Likewise, you would find a person going for a used car, more interested in examining the exterior/body of the car than the functional parts like engine. What about an architect paying more attention to colors and symmetrical dimensions in space, rather than focusing on the lifelines of the household system – electrical and plumbing lines?

Same applies to software and internet world. Not many achieve the balance of their site/app being desirable, at the same time high on usability: useful, usable, etc.

Few examples of beauty that doesn’t work:

If the primary function/industry of your web site is to convey beauty, one should design for beauty. Else, beauty should be a by-product, still essential, but not at the expense of functionality and ease of use. A desirable site may attract more visitors in the short-term, but the visitors are unlikely to revisit as they would find it difficult to achieve their desired goals; in which case, a more functional site will score in the long-term.

Typical user echoes the following while using any of the above sites:

“where do i look?” “where do i click?” “what do i do?” “how long does this take to load?” “where’s the navigation?” “how do i scroll?”

The sad part about these sites is that there’s undoubted creativity and plenty of ideas that’s gone into the concept and production. But, like most real things, a tool is no good unless you can figure out how to use it. There are multiple ways the sites fail to function. It can be visual clutter, slow loading time, navigation issues, archiving issues, visibility/scrolling issues, etc. Instead, direct the users to certain sections/pages of the site; make your navigation clear; make menus and icons self-explanatory; use proper contrast ratio for higher visibility; and have a clear “call-to-action”. More…

Few brands like: Sony, Apple, Microsoft – achieve form without sacrificing function.

Watch this space for the next usability dimension: Findable.

Vishal Mehta

Vishal Mehta

Vishal Mehta is a usability professional who loves to play chess and has a strong eye for details. He's also the CEO of IDYeah Creations, a UX practice in Pune, India. Vishal is also a guest blogger on UXBooth, Technorati, BlogCritics, and SAP Community Network.

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