Is Usablity no longer enough?


A while ago I read a post by Dr. Eric Schaffer, CEO of Human Factors International, about Usability being no longer enough which put me thinking.

He says: “Usability is no longer enough to create successful websites” and “traditional usability practises focus on creating efficient sites that are simple and easy to use. But just because a site is easy to use doesn’t mean it will engage customers and meet business goals”. Considering his position regarding Usability he presents a new approach to web design: PET Design, which allows companies to influence and deeper their interactions with online customers through Persuasion, Emotion, and Trust (PET). PET Design is about understanding users, how and why they make decisions, the motivators and motivational triggers that influence how they react to website messages and content.

I think Dr. Schaffer’s vision of a successful website is a very business-oriented one. His view focus mainly on websites for doing business (e-commerce, etc.). However there are several other types of websites, from informational sites to web applications people use to do their work, where the focus is not selling goods but finding something or accomplishing tasks quickly and efficiently. In these cases I think Usability is enough. Of course I think there are other important factors like the ones referred on Perter Morville’s User Experience Honeycomb but Usability is the main point.

This approach, PET Design, is very interesting and in my opinion brings new potential to e-business, but stating that “Usability is no longer enough” I don’t think it’s right. Usability still has a long path ahead.


Susana Vilaça

3 thoughts on “Is Usablity no longer enough?

  1. PET Design is about persuasion. So if you don’t need to persuade it does not really help. I separated out the PET stuff from classic usability for exactly that reason. There are cases where persuasion does not mater. ALSO, there are cases were usability is well taken care of already and we ONLY need PET work.

    But I’ve really noticed that the RANGE of situations where you need to persuade is pretty wide. We have a couple of projects on increasing vaccination. We are working on news sites that just want people to come often. It is not just the obvious eCommerce stuff.

    OH! and Bruno,I published on PET in 1981. The field is not new. The interesting thing is that it is now the differentiator! That is the ‘Usability is No Longer Enough’ idea. Classic usability is a baseline requirement.

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