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USABILITY AS A DESIGN CONSIDERATION

Designers understand the importance of utility Sometimes it can be difficult to explain to non-designers, such as marketing managers, why utility is more important than aesthetics.

That’s one of the biggest challenges every designer faces when designing user interfaces for software and websites, where the work is subject to approval from higher level marketing executives.

Of course it is important to try and get the best looking result that you can, but not if it means getting in the way of what the user wants to achieve when visiting your website or using software designed by you.

USABILITY IS A DYNAMIC FIELD, THE RULES ARE NOT STATIC

There are some old usability rules that people are clinging to that may no longer be relevant, because the majority of people are now either using wide screen monitors or mobile devices. Some users also have multiple monitors attached to a single device.

We need to think about how to create acceptable outcomes for all these different display types. If anyone feels like they’ve been left out, overlooked, or ignored, you can be certain it will generate complaints. This looks bad for you as a designer, even if neglecting to support a certain display type wasn’t your decision.

ACCESSIBILITY IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT AS WELL

The one thing that’s even worse than somebody feeling excluded is somebody feeling that they’ve been discriminated against.

Because accessibility is so easy to include these days, there’s really no excuse not to do it. Some managers may despair at the additional time spent catering to a “fringe group” that they don’t see any value in supporting.

When you are faced with that attitude, it’s worth pointing out that approximately 10 percent of the population has a disability. Even if the manager can’t see the value of accessibility from simply a fairness point of view, they should at least understand the economic impact of alienating up to 10 percent of the potential market.

Taking the time to do things properly will be noticed and appreciated by those who benefit from you doing so. They may even talk about it on social media, which can yield valuable PR points for the company.

Naturally the opposite is also a possibility. If you blatantly neglect accessibility and it makes the wrong person angry, their social media diatribe may well have solid repercussions for you. If a competitor is providing better accessibility than you are, they may gain some of the market share that may otherwise have gone to you.

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The WebRecital is a dedicated User Interface/User Experience professionals who come together to provide design and research workshops, portfolio reviews, and educational outreach to the greater Seattle area.
http://webrecital.com/

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