Much to my surprise, yesterday was World Usability Day. I was one of the many attendees at Toronto’s first UsabilityCamp. Umbra, one of the presenters, had some key take home messages that I’m going to share with all of you.
1. Form follows function: the design of your product should be based on the function of your product.
2. Form communicates function: the design should communicate how your product can be used. Example: The shape of an office stapler can communicate how you might use it.
3. Usability is affected by changes in lifestyle, trends, and material costs: Designs should follow lifestyle trends as well as take into account the cost of raw materials.
Okay. I admit that some of the key messages are more appropriate for physical products and less so for web design. However, they can still be useful for web design. As an example, I think point #2 can be translated to adding drop shadows and textures to web buttons. This will communicate more clearly that those buttons can be pressed or clicked upon as they will appear to be more three-dimensional.