The two terms 'usability' and 'accessibility' are frequently used when talking about website design, often interchangeably, without ever defining what is meant.

"All the competitors in the world are but a mouseclick away" Jakob Nielson, Usability author


The primary notion of usability is that an object is designed with the user in mind. In terms of website design the three main usability aims are:

  • Efficiency of use
  • Learnability (e.g. intuitive navigation)
  • Subjective satisfaction

Why is it so important?

Users experience the usability of a website before they have committed to using it. If the user can't find the information they are looking for, they will go elsewhere.

Design versus usability

There are essentially two approaches to web design: visually artistic design and engineered usable design.

It is important to remember when considering each of these approaches that the University website is an 'information' site. This means that the majority of our users are not browsing; they have a specific task in mind.

General principals of designing for usability