First let’s make it clear what usability is and is not.
Usability is about people and how they understand and use products or systems, including websites, software, devices, or applications. It refers to the quality of a user’s experience, and assesses how easy user interfaces are to use.
Jakob Nielsen, a usability guru, defines usability by five quality components:
Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design?
Efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?
Memorability: When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency?
Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors?
Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use the design?
― from Jakob Nielsen’s Usability 101
What usability is not
Right, usability is not the same thing as user experience (UX).
UX is the wider perspective and usability is a part of UX. There is a trend to look at this relationship by subdividing UX into utility, usability, desirability and brand experience, as illustrated below.
This topic is rather controversial, and there’s a lot of debate on it. Here are some links if you are interested:
Is UX the same as Usability?
The Difference Between UX And Usability
If you have a contrary opinion, feel free to share your thoughts in comments! I’d love to know what “usability” means to you 🙂