Wednesday, 16 January 2008

The Usability of driving a car

If you have trouble convincing people that Usability is very important for your website, Rich Internet Application (RIA) or any other application, just put them in a strange car and tell them to drive...

I realised this when my car broke down and I needed a rental. Since my car is a company car, it always is a surprise which rental you get. Usually it is a car which is completely unknown to me, so it will be a long test drive.

When I got the car and wanted to drive away, I needed to look around to see if the controls were like I was used to. Usually things like steering wheels, throttles etc. are just the same, so I can get in and just drive away!

Less important things are less obvious, like changing the interval speed of the windscreen wipers and stuff like that.

And that is why people who can drive, can drive in any car! So, wouldn't it be nice if it was the same for using a website or application? And still, this is not the case...

A website should be obvious to use, like a car is. You shouldn't need to do a lot of thinking (read "Don't make me Think" by Steve Krug). People should be able to do the most common tasks or actions without reading the manual first. Off course, the "battle" between design and Usability comes up here, but I think it should be a major challenge for the designer to design for a website with great Usability. This is better than a great design leaving people confused on how to use it... So the Usability Analyst and the Designer should work together from the beginning.

If you want to introduce Usability in your project or create Usability awareness, please keep going and maybe use this example. I'm sure that anyone who ever drove a type car they've never drove before know exactly what you are talking about.

(Interested? Also read this post)