How to Create Powerful Experiences for Your Audience – Part II: Be Usable

Alicia Willard

Blog two of an eight-part series on the tenets of a powerful user or audience experience

For other posts in this series, visit:
1. Useful
2. Findable
In the first post of this series, I shared insights about the first tenet of creating powerful experiences: useful. In this post, I want to discuss a tenet that is sometimes confused with the first: usable.
As I mentioned in the first post, there are many aspects that shape and build an experience. Building on the metaphor about public transportation, from the moment you thought about taking a train, bus, subway, or metro system, your experience with that transportation system started.
The concept of whether a public transportation system is useful might elicit questions like, “Will this train or bus get me where I need to go?” or “Will the subway or metro be fast enough?” If the answers to those questions are some forms of “yes,” then the public transportation system is useful.
However, whether that train or bus is usable might instead spark thoughts like:

  • “Will I be able to get all the information I need about the transportation system before I use it?”
  • “Will I be able to easily get the pay card or stub to access the system?”
  • “Will I be able to use that same pay card or stub throughout my trip?”

In short, being usable is about whether the public transportation system, website, one-pager, platform, etc. is easy for its users and audiences to understand and intuitively use to achieve the results they are looking for.
Thinking about this in the context of the public transportation metaphor, a user may know that the train or bus will get them from point A to point B, and it may even get them there fast. However, if the user can’t figure out how to use the public transportation system, it’s not usable and therefore, they will not bother with that mode of transportation and instead, pick another that is easier for them to use.
How do you find out what is intuitive and easy for users and audiences to use? By testing, testing, testing. Most ideas and concepts are great in theory. However, it isn’t until those ideas and concepts are tested in the real world that potholes are found.
The goal of usability testing is to understand how real users and audiences interact with your website, messaging, call-to-action, etc., and make changes based on the results. Without testing, there is no way to identify issues and without identifying issues, your audiences will grow frustrated and get what they need from a competitor.

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