Today is World Usability Day. But, what does Usability mean? And, how does this impact a law firm?
The ISO (International Organization for Standardization) provides a good definition of Usability. It defines usability as “The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a specified context of use.” Basically, usability is the practice of making things more simple to use.
As most of us who use software on a daily basis can attest, usable software is not an all too common experience. Software is often frustrating and difficult to use. The best software is that which we do not think about. It doesn’t have to be figured out. The recent success of the iPhone is an example of how well designed software can change our expectations of technology.
Usable software delivers value to law firms in several ways. For one, it’s easier to learn. Bringing on new staff is an expensive proposition. They have to be trained on how the office works and the tools used. These are time consuming, productivity draining activities. This issue can be mitigated by adopting common tools, like the Word and Outlook; however, these tools will only go so far. Advanced use of these tools deliver greater efficiency and value, but they are often difficult to figure out. It’s not too many people that are intimately familiar with the nuances of performing a mail or document merge, yet how much faster could the process of sending out holiday cards, mailers or form letters be made through leveraging this powerful feature. At the end of the day, these efficiencies equal less time spent on administrative tasks. In law firms and life, time is inventory. Couldn’t we all use a little more of that inventory?
Communication is the theme of today’s World Usability Day. The goal is to create greater awareness of designs, products and services that improve and facilitate communication. We live in a world where the possibilities for communicating and collaborating are unlike those seen in recorded history. It is a reality to which society is still adjusting. In today’s data intensive workplace, usable software should be a tool that delivers greater efficiency to a law firm. Technology should not be a burden. It should be a competitive advantage that enables your entire firm to work more efficiently.
Ariel Jatib is Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at Rocket Matter. He has worked as a Design and Usability professional for over 8 years. He is a member of the NYC Chapter of the Usability Professionals Association.