3 essential usability quotes, and what we can learn from them

In product development, usability is not functionality. It’s what should come after it. That doesn’t always mean that it does, and the two are often confused or loosely lumped together.

Functionality simply refers to whether a product does what it is supposed to do. But just because a product is in working order, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it works well for users.

That’s where usability becomes essential, and where a product can be made – or broken. We’ve picked 3 of the most essential usability quotes to consider when developing a product, and highlighted the lessons they hold.


1. “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” 

It’s a given that you want your product to add as much value as possible to customers. It’s not a given that showering them with new features achieves that.

All too often, companies fall into the feature overload trap. Their intentions are good: they want to create useful products that help people. But what they forget is that bloated products are harder to use, harder to define, and ultimately, harder to sell.

By jam-packing a product with features that aren’t core to its purpose, you dilute its value. Users typically have one problem that they want your software to solve, and they don’t want to have to wade through a wall of options and showy additions to get it done.

Remember, if a customer gets into a taxi, they don’t expect to be offered a choice of 20 different routes to get to their end destination – with a haircut available en-route. They expect you to just get them from A to B, without having to think, and without facing unexpected offers along the way.

2. “Nature operates in the shortest way possible. Is this not something to mirror in UX design?”

Most people want their products to be beautiful. And most times, it’s misplaced to want that.

That’s because too many companies associate beautiful design with impressive visuals, fancy animations and bold statements. Instead of beautifying products, these grand design elements only layer it with distractions. Customers don’t want to look at your product: they want to use it.

Good design is predictable. It’s consistent. It’s familiar. In fact, good design is often about getting design out of the way, and making a product that’s slim, simple and stripped back.

Let’s use another everyday example. A customer headed to a bakery doesn’t want a singing quartet to serenade them on the deliciousness of various patisserie items outside the door. They want to go in and get what they want as quickly as possible, without fuss, without fluff, without fanfare.

3. “Intuitive design is how we give the user new superpowers.”

Users don’t want to be forced to think. Or at least, not about your product.

Consumers have a ton of problems they want solving. They also have a ton of products offering them a speedy solution to those problems. Are they going to pick the product with the quick set-up and the intuitive interface, or the one that they need a hefty instruction manual to navigate?

Think of it this way: if your product is complicated to use, it makes customers feel stupid. And nobody enjoys feeling stupid. A product that they ‘get’ right away, however, is welcoming, and makes them feel productive. Clean, intuitive design is friendly. Complex, intricate design is hostile. For your product, it’s only ever as simple as that.

A customer making a service call doesn’t want to have to solve a riddle, answer a mystery question and perform a test before they can start speaking to an agent. Bear in mind that a customer wanting to start using your product is no different.

Did we forget one of your favourite usability quotes? Tweet about it and we’ll include it in our next article.

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