Sunday, March 14, 2010

What's a usability problem?

This Dilbert comic strip raises an excellent question that usability people often talk about. What constitutes a usability problem? The PHM says, "...a user might need several steps to do something that should only take one." Out of context of the application, it's impossible to answer that question. If the application is a payment form on an e-commerce site, then this situation may affect conversion rates by some percentage and lead to lost sales. If it's a desktop application that is complex and only intended to be used by trained users, than perhaps it's not an issue. Often there's disagreement among usability people whether a usability issue is a genuine "bug" or not.

Interesting that the PHM brings this up, because historically we know he doesn't really understand engineering or usability very well. I wonder where Scott Adams encountered this topic.

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