Usability at Western Libaries

What is usability?

Usability refers to the quality of the user’s experience while learning and using an interface. Usability practitioners are concerned with this primary question: “Can users interact with this website effectively, efficiently, and pleasantly?” Elements of usability include…

  • Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish tasks through a specific website?

  • Efficiency & Memorability: Once learned, how quickly can users perform a task? How easy is it to remember the task steps?

  • Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use the website?

 

Why is it important?

Usability is important because…

… it makes your users happy. Building a usable site enhances the experience of your users, and enables those users to productively utilize the full functionality of a site. In a usable design, frivolous and decorative elements are kept to a minimum, allowing users to fully focus on their interaction with the product or service being presented.

… it’s inclusive. Observing basic usability principles makes websites more accessible to users with mobility or sensory disabilities.  Western Libraries strives to provide barrier-free access to all of patrons.

...it’s universal. Good usability practices operate on the same principles as universal design for learning (UDL).  Defined by the North Carolina State Center for Universal Design as "...the design of products and environments to be usable by all people...," usable design ensures an accessible web presence for the majority of our patrons.

 

How can I get involved?

Because Western Libraries values good user experiences for all of our patrons, the Usability & Design Working Group strives to evaluate all virtual spaces on the Libraries website and to make recommended changes in order to enhance the usability of our website.  Interested in learning more?  Visit our Contact Us form!

 

Sources:
Usability (Glossary), URL: http://www.usability.gov/what-and-why/glossary/u/index.html
Usability 101, URL: http://www.nngroup.com/articles/usability-101-introduction-to-usability/
Definition of User Experience, URL: http://www.nngroup.com/articles/definition-user-experience/
Image Source: http://semanticstudios.com/wp-content/uploads/2004/06/honeycomb.jpg
The Center for Universal Design - About Universal Design: https://www.ncsu.edu/ncsu/design/cud/about_ud/about_ud.htm
Web Accessibility and Usability Working Together: http://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/usable