How to Set Usability Goals and Achieve Them

Well, it’s high time usability goals got some attention they were due. However, the unfortunate thing is that in order to really get into them, we have to first talk about how to set goals and determine what yours are. After that, in future pieces, we can get on with the caramel center of technical information and sage, wise teachings and all that fun stuff.

Why:

Well, before we get into specifics about any given usability goals that are even pretty global across the industry, we should talk about how you determine goals at any given point in design. If you’re deluged with technical stuff before you know how to see them in your own world, then they won’t be as personally important to you. That’d be unfortunate.

Let Us Guess, Demographics:

Well yeah, the first thing to think about is your demographic for whatever you’re designing. What kind of application is it? What kind of people and industries are drawn by this application, be it a program, a web service or any other such thing.

What platforms are they going to be using it on, and what demands are going to be made of it when it’s widely in use? These greatly affect what priorities should be set in your interaction designs.

Platforms:

Yeah, if you’re going web, you’re still worrying about platform, I’m sorry to say. Right now, since the web isn’t entirely ready for new hybrid niche products, you have to do a deliberately conscious dance around making mobile convenient and comfortable to use, so if your demographic is a highly mobile one, then you’re going to have to prioritize optimization and usability for it.

Integration:

Yeah, this may seem like something that coders should be mostly worried about, it matters for usability, too. In this day and age, customers want of all their other systems to integrate well, so they have unity in all of their digital processes.

Making that work well with the common interactions and interface, so it’s not a confusing mess when additions or the like are made. Focusing on what kind of integration will be necessary will greatly alleviate the problems of modular SaaS when it comes to training, that so often crop up in the likes of Netsuite and Force.com products.

Consistency:

All of the factors above will determine what your goals are for consistency in different aspects of a design across various platforms and device types. As some things have to vary across the experience for different cases, then you have to determine what has to be consistent, and what’s ok to be distinctly different from one of these cases to the next, and so forth.

Conclusion:

Now that you know the factors for determining your goals, and how to prioritize them, when we go over the more technical details and cover specific goals and how to live with them, you’ll see, in your own plans and your own space, where they fit in, because you’ve been through this less interesting part first.

Of course, usability goals do vary from case to case, and from one demographic to the next, so this is a much more complex set of concerns after this base step.

bnr17

Jessica Miller
Jessica is the Lead Author & Editor of UsabilityLab Blog. Jessica writes for the UsabilityLab blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to usability.
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