World Usability Day: The 5 Components of Usability

9th November 2017 / 4 minute read


November 9th is World Usability Day… Happy Usability Day everyone!

What do you like to do on World Usability Day? Review the user experience of your website? Design a website? Gather the family for a delicious roast? Or like us, do you enjoy reflecting on usability and exploring the 5 key components of usability?

Let’s make sure we’re on the same page

If you’re a novice in usability, then usability in web design focusses on designing a website to best suit your users. After all, they’re the main focus (or at least they should be) when it comes to designing a website.

Why is usability so important?

In the modern world, we as people are always ‘using’ things. And If we can’t use something easily, that’s when problems arise. In terms of using a website, it should be very, very easy. If it isn’t, then you will face the wrath of a high bounce rate and disgruntled users.

There’s nothing worse than trying to do something and not being able to. When you find yourself struggling to navigate, or to use a tool on a website, that’s an example of poor usability.


Bad usability

Say you’re filling in a form to complete an online order, but you can’t see what you’re typing into each box on the form, how frustrating is that? It’s a classic example of bad usability, and we’ve all experienced it at some point.

There are even real-life examples of bad usability on social media. These usually consist of misplaced road signs, terribly applied parking bays or even faltering doors which do not open when they should!

These are all example of negative usability. You must avoid it!

The 5 Components of Usability

There are 5 essential components of usability. When you come to test the usability of your website, these components are what you need to focus on.


Learnability focusses on how easy it is for a user to complete basic tasks on their first encounter with your website. Do they interact with your product well? Do they struggle with a particular section of the website? Did the user get frustrated?


Efficiency looks at whether a user can complete tasks once they have learned the design, and how quickly they can perform tasks. If they can’t complete tasks quickly, why is that?


Memorability focusses on the prospect of a user returning to the design after a period of not using it. How easily do they re-establish proficiency?


In an ideal world, you want a perfect design with no errors, but in testing, errors are expected. How many errors are users making? How severe are the errors? How easily do the users recover from the error/s?


Is the design a pleasure to use? Determining the satisfaction of your design is pivotal. It’s often the difference between a user leaving and never returning, or leaving and returning!

(Inspired by:

The man responsible for these five key ingredients of usability is a User Advocate and the principal of the Nielsen Norman Group, Dr Jakob Nielsen. Dr Nielsen is vastly known and respected in the field of user experience and web usability.

His five usability components are valuable for teaching people about usability, as well as allowing them to implement these mechanisms into their usability testing strategy.

Why bother testing with these 5 usability components?

By finding the answers to each of the five components, you can find the answers you need to improve your design.

The process and the components, as you can see, are very simple to grasp. The real challenge however is applying them and taking the time to test the usability of your design.

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Work with an experienced UX design team!

If you’re struggling with the overall user experience of your website, then do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

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