Usability Reports

Usability

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Usability is the ease of use and learnability of a human-made object. The object of use can be a software application, website, book, tool, machine, process, or anything a human interacts with. A usability study may be conducted as a primary job function by a usability analyst or as a secondary job function by designers, technical writers, marketing personnel, and others. It is widely used in consumer electronics, communication, and knowledge transfer objects (such as a cookbook, a document or online help) and mechanical objects such as a door handle or a hammer.

Usability includes methods of measuring usability, such as needs analysis[1] and the study of the principles behind an object’s perceived efficiency or elegance. In human-computer interaction and computer science, usability studies the elegance and clarity with which the interaction with a computer program or a web site (web usability) is designed. Usability differs from user satisfaction insofar as the former also embraces usefulness (see Computer user satisfaction).

User Experience

ISO 9241-210[1] defines user experience as "a person’s perceptions and responses that result from the use or anticipated use of a product, system or service". According to the ISO definition user experience includes all the users’ emotions, beliefs, preferences, perceptions, physical and psychological responses, behaviors and accomplishments that occur before, during and after use. The ISO also list three factors that influence user experience: system, user and the context of use.

Note 3 of the standard hints that usability addresses aspects of user experience, e.g. "usability criteria can be used to assess aspects of user experience". Unfortunately, the standard does not go further in clarifying the relation between user experience and usability. Clearly, the two are overlapping concepts, with usability including pragmatic aspects (getting a task done) and user experience focusing on users’ feelings stemming both from pragmatic and hedonic aspects of the system.

In addition to the ISO standard, there exist several other definitions for user experience, see Allaboutux.org.[2] Some of them have been studied by Law et al. (2009).[3]

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