Usability vs. Usefulness

Usability and Usefulness tips to rememberUsability is a new guru of today’s internet marketing. Experts can spend hours on arguing and drawing so that the users can click once instead of twice to reach the information they need. No confusion, no time wasted, no uncanny interfaces. Everything is created to make your life easier and more comfortable.

However, we also should not forget about the other important thing… usefulness. Does your site really worth your visitors’ attention? Do you really believe that usability is the best way to the usefulness? Sometimes to make things too easy cannot be universal panacea. Sometimes it even can decrease the usefulness to a visitor.

Wish – Obstacle – Effort… – Appreciation?

As we know the more effort we make to get something the more we appreciate the things we got. Does this rule works for usability of your site? Let’s make an analogy. For example, you are sitting in front of your computer and have to work or study… or whatever you have to do. It is really important for you, but at the same time you are thirsty. There are two ways to solve this:

  • You have no drinks at home. Thus, another “have to” appears – you need to go to the supermarket to buy some drinks.
  • In case the fridge is filled, all you need is to get to the kitchen.

The main difference between these two samples is not that you can live without water for a month, but about the amount of effort you have to put into solving this problem and avoid dehydration.

Worth or Not Worth?

Is it worth your time, money, emotions, thoughts? These are the questions we ask ourselves all the day. If yes, we do things. If look at the sample mentioned above, most of us will wait for a while and go to the supermarket. The second sample should be the work of usability experts to make sure that juice and water is always in your fridge. If they are really professionals you will also have tea, coffee, ice or coke in your fridge all the time and even may not stand up from your desk, because they bring you whatever you want. Isn’t it your dream?Usability and Usefulness for your site

Usability expert tries to let the visitors navigate a site, sing up, buy stuff online as well as reacting posts easily. However, if all in this life was such simple, we do it all the time and convert so appreciated things in waste. In other words, quality would convert in quantity. Need example? Too many drinks on your desk will increase traffic between your desk and the toilet.

Posting comments on blog or forum can be the same. If it is too hard, people will not bother to post. In case it is too easy, people start to post without considering value. Thus, it is quite important not to forget about the balance, so that people will be able to contribute valuable feedback and find it difficult enough to spam.

RSS feeds are the other good sample. Most of us know that it will end in a pile of crappy RSS feeds that we will never read, but still click that link. The worst thing is that sometimes we can’t find really necessary and interesting information in that mess. We also can sort out all these links according their themes, but it will take some time, decrease usability… but improve usefulness.

All we know that the balance between effort, worth, quality and quantity should be found. But the main thing while trying to make sites that are easy to use is not to forget about making sites that are really useful.


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