Recently I stumbled upon a post on Facebook by Pankaj Kumar asking, “Why Google Why?” With the heading “What happens when designers prioritize aesthetics over usability?” It shows the original design icons of Google with the new designs and what we see.
So, what is usability and why is it crucial in design interface? Usability focuses on the users’ needs, wants and capabilities. When designing interface, the perspective of the intended users should be considered. The cognitive and physiological constraints of the users must be taken into account. Users need to be defined by these characteristics: age, gender, civil status, profession, intelligence and behavior. In order to get this information, an Empathy Map was developed as a framework to improve customer experience and design better work environments and a host of other things. The central feature of this framework is on the “Think and Feel” of the users. To emphasize on the difference between observable phenomena and those that are implicit which are the thoughts and feelings or latent needs.
After profiling the users, the next steps are to ask these questions?
1. Is my new design easy to use?
2. Is it more efficient?
3. Will it be easy to recover from errors?
4. Is it easy to remember?
If the answers to these questions is yes, then you are on the right track. A well design icon is more than just aesthetics. It should be easy to understand and navigate. In order to meet your users’ needs, the end goal is for them to complete the task. Therefore, usability testing is vital before rolling out a new design.
The designers should not only consider their client, in this case Google, but also the end users. Usability design’s mission should be to increase productivity, profitability, reduce costs, and increase satisfaction. Doing usability testing will strike a balance between clients and users’ needs and wants.
There are also published guidelines and even International Standards and Organizations (ISO) has come up with standards on user experience design. ISO 9241 and ISO/TR 16982:2002 provides the information standards on human centered usability procedures that are recommended for product design and evaluation.
Anyway, enough of the technical terms. In summary, usability should focus on the users’ needs and wants. Involve them in the usability testing and modify your design based on their feedbacks. So that they can perform their tasks safely, efficiently and effectively in a pleasurable way.
The author is the recipient of the South East Asian Network of Ergonomics Societies (SEANES) Educator Award 2018, in Bangkok, Thailand. She is currently a Full Professor of the Industrial & Systems Engineering Department at De La Salle University and also an ASEAN engineer. She is also the Vice President of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society of the Philippines (HFESP). She has publications in the Sustainability Journal, International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, and International Journal of Aviation Psychology. Aside from this, a book chapter in the Human Factors and Ergonomics in Consumer Product Design was published by CRC Press Taylor and Francis Group. Held leadership positions in the University as the Department Chairperson (AY 2016-2019; AY2006-2007) and Vice-Chairperson (AY2003- 2006; AY2010-2012). Engaged in ergonomics consultancy on Safety Productivity Enhancement through Ergonomics Development (SPEED) program to the government and private sector.
Joint Conference of Asian Council of Ergonomics and Design (ACED) and South East Asian Network Societies (SEANES) 2020 ACED-SEANES 2020
We are delighted to invite you to the first Joint Conference of Asian Council of Ergonomics and Design (ACED) and South East Asian Network Societies (SEANES) on Dec. 2-4, 2020 in Manila, Philippines. The theme of our conference–Convergence: Creating Ergonomic Breakthroughs thru Partnership. Our mission is to bring together academics, researchers and industry practitioners to network and share their expertise in the area of human factors and ergonomics in the Asia-Pacific region.
ACED-SEANES 2020 promises to be both appealing and illuminating with a wonderful array of keynote speakers from all over the world. We were honored to have as keynote speaker our Filipino pride, a well-renowned and multi-awarded furniture designer Mr. Kenneth Cobonpue. Also in the roster of keynote speakers is Prof. Birsen Donmez from the University of Toronto, Canada. Her research interests are centered on understanding and improving human behavior and performance in multi-task and complex situations, using a wide range of analytic techniques. Another keynote speaker is Prof. Stuart Marshall, a Special Anesthetist, Lead of Clinical Human Factors at the Australian Centre for Health and Innovation at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne and Clinical Associate Professor of Medical Education at The University of Melbourne, Australia. Here’s the link to the website: acedseanes2020.com.
The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of De La Salle University, its faculty, and its administrators.