Building a website that works for your users? That’s not normal! Myriam Jessier is talking at Voxxed Days Ticino about how you can be the hero behind the HTML, and make sure your users are happily using your product. We asked her what it’s all about.


What is usability?

Usability means making products and systems easier to use for the people that are actually using these products or systems. I decided to talk about usability because I get so tired of feeling like I am using something wrong. As a user, I don’t deserve to get frustrated because I can’t complete a task I want to complete because you haven’t thought about how I would use your product.

Why do I always end up with weird errors? Why can’t I pay for the thing I want to buy online? Did I do something wrong?

Why is usability important?

Most of the time, you don’t things for yourself, you make them for others. With this perspective, usability becomes an essential element for anything that you build. You don’t code for code’s sake. Code exists to help build things that are useful to something or someone.

What is usability testing?

It is a way to make sure something you built (or plan building) works and can be used by others. Asking unbiased participants to perform specific tasks on your interface allows you to evaluate your interface. The first time you see a user struggle to use your product is very enlightening.

But it works…
That is a very common statement among developers. Sadly, while “but it works” can get you off the hook at work, users won’t be so forgiving. If whatever you built follows the “but it works” mantra, chances are, it’s not usable for anyone but you (and maybe a select few that acquired the how-to guide by working with you on the project).

What is a usability bug?

Most of us are familiar with software bugs. When we think of them, we think of errors, flaws or failures in the program that causes an unexpected result. A usability bug is an error that causes an interface to behave in unexpected ways. The failure caused by the error affects the user and impacts their experience.
Before you get started, here are a few things you should know:
You are not your user. Remember that or your product will be doomed to mediocrity or failure.
Usability is baked into the product itself. When it’s done properly, it’s invisible.
Usability means that whatever product a person uses, it works the way they expect it to work.
A usable product is easy to learn, easy to use, intuitive and fun.

How do you get your DIY usability tests started?

  • Make a list of tasks you’d like to test.
  • Prioritize and decide what you’d like to test.
  • Turn those priority tasks into scenarios for testing purposes.
  • Get participants to test your product.
  • Collect testing insights.
  • Tweak and improve your product.
  • Make usability testing part of your workflow.

Usability testing isn’t QA testing:
Testing your interface with users is not an adequate substitute for good coding and good QA testing. With this in mind, even the best QA testers following the best script cannot predict the actions of regular users. Do not put a QA in charge of usability testing. It won’t work!


For more, see Myriam’s talk at Voxxed Days Ticino:

Usability testing

About The Author
- Katharine is a Java developer by trade, turned Community & Content Manager for Voxxed. Helping developers learn and share knowledge. Contact me at with any news, articles or tutorials.

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