the design of use [usability department video]
Usability is basically the psychology of design. How easy is it to use something? Take books for example: what if the chapters were out of order? I don’t mean this in terms of an artistic choice to tell a story in a non-linear fashion – but what if The Great Gatsby’s chapters were printed in an entirely random order? What if the book was printed with an off-putting font, random margins, random spacing and on unattractive paper? What would all these factors do to the enjoyment of reading The Great Gatsby?
The logical placement of information comes from an adherence to logic and simplicity. Another example would be the counter-culture architects of the 1960s who designed homes based on how they felt – meaning they designed homes as artists, rather than as carpenters.* These homes often had flat roofs which didn’t allow precipitation to roll off as it should. They mostly caved in and became eye sores. The reason we have angled roofs on homes is for a simple reason: to keep our homes from caving in. Yes, there is great room to be creative within that purpose, but the principles of usability, that being the purpose of a home, needs to be adhered to first.
Building a home is the same as building a website, which is why booj has a Usability Department that helps keep our websites up to standard pratices by using eye-tracking software and other methodologies to determine the logical placement of information. By applying logic to the purpose of what’s being designed we can refine the design to something easy-to-use. A website needs to have information in places where people would think to find it. Aesthetics may come and go, but that purpose will not change.
In our video below we explore this concept via the entrance of a building. A simple set of doors, mislabeled. The purpose of a door, remember, is to allow people to enter and exit – preferably without hurting themselves.
*Source: On Directing Film by David Mamet