Product usability


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Product usability

A concept in product design, sometimes referred to as ease of use or user-friendliness, that is related directly to the quality of the product and indirectly to the productivity of the work force. Customer surveys show that product quality is broken down into six components (in descending order of importance): reliability, durability, ease of maintenance, usability, trusted or brand name, and price. Ease of maintenance and usability both relate to product usability. Reliability also has a component of usability to it. If a product is too difficult to use and thus appears not to work properly, the customer may think that it has malfunctioned. Consequently, the customer may return the product to the store not because it is unreliable but because it does not work the way the customer thinks it should. See Human-computer interaction

There are five criteria by which a product's usability can be measured, including time to perform a task, or the execution time; learnability; mental workload, or the mental effort required to perform a task; consistency in the design; and errors. The usability of a product usually cannot be optimized for all five criteria at the same time. Trade-offs will occur. As an example, a product that is highly usable in terms of fast execution times will often have poor usability in terms of the time needed to learn how to use the product. A product designer must be aware that it may not be possible for a product to be highly usable by all usability criteria, and so design according to the criteria that are most important to potential customers. Casual users of a product will have different demands on a product compared to expert users. See Control systems, Human-factors engineering, Human-machine systems

Many companies, especially computer or consumer electronics companies, have laboratories in which to test the usability of their products. The methods of usability testing are formal experimentation, informal experimentation, and task analyses. Although laboratory methods for improving usability can increase the cost of the product design, the benefits (market share, productivity) will outweigh the costs. See Methods engineering, Optimization

References in periodicals archive ?
The product usability tests consisted of two timed tests, which were used to measure the response time of the overall system for two different access control scenarios: the Old Image Database Timed Test, which tested using existing gallery images (the images/templates in the database to which a new image is being compared) and the Enrollment Timed Test, which allowed vendors to enroll subjects at the testing location.
Moreover, the competitive analysis of talent management market brings an insight on the product usability profiles of the leading players.
The Company aims to help users answer the "which brand and model should I buy" question by focusing on user preferences and product usability.
HP (NYSE:HPQ) today revealed new designs for models across its PC portfolio, which is said reflect its philosophy of balancing material selection, product usability and sensory input to deliver a superior PC experience.
At The MathWorks, the Documentation Usability Team and product usability specialists work with writers to conduct documentation tests.
A new market study, titled "Global Live Chat Market - Trends Analysis, Product Usability Profiles & Forecasts to 2023", has been featured on WiseGuyReports.
"We are constantly investing into our product usability and getting recognized for the effort inspires us to innovate further.
Technical communicators are becoming increasingly involved in product usability issues, such as assisting with analyzing the product's users, conducting usability testing, or offering recommendations based on usability research and theory.