Usability is generally defined as the ease in which a product or application can be learned and used efficiently. Products with high usability allow users to accomplish specified goals effectively, and with a high degreee of satisfaction. According to Jakob Nielsen, a leading expert in usability studies, usability is far more important on the World Wide Web than in the physical world. This is because, on the Web, users experience the usability of a website before they make decisions. The reverse is true for physical products, where normally, the usability is only experienced after a decision has been made.
Good web usability ensures that the visitor is able to find what he or she is looking for, easily and quickly. Many factors affect the usability of websites. These include an understanding of the target user's information seeking behaviour, overall architecture of the website, individual webpage design, writing and linking styles, accessibility issues and evaluation methods.
Nielsen has created a 113-point website usability checklist that identifies features and functionalities required for a well-designed website. Broadly categorised, these are features related to accessibility (eg. download time, font size), identity (eg. company logo, contact information), navigation (eg. clear and consistent labels) and content (eg. consistent style and colours).
This PathFinder serves as a guide to help you locate resources on Web usability, available at National Library Board libraries as well as on the Internet.