illuminating usability issues

Archive for November 2006

This is Usability –

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Hug LogoEver shopped online? This is a great example of usability in the online shopping experience – and by that I mean the WHOLE experience. is the company, they sell a small range of fairtrade organic cotton clothes for women, men and children, is the Website (opens in a new window).

This is why I think this company is a great example of usability in action.

  • The Website is OK, it was easy enough to choose my product and size, there are good photos of most things (although some could be better).
  • So, I quickly filled my basket and filled in the typical form to complete the checkout process…there is always room for improvements and this website is no exception, but the functionality is basically there…and it works!

Having chosen some products and checked out, this is where user-interface usability needs to turn into process usability…and this is where the company has done excellently.

  • The packaging that they use is small, fits through even my small letterbox at home – no staying in to wait for the delivery or getting annoying “whilst you were out” cards from the post office – the items simply arrive through my door whilst I’m out…finally, user-centred delivery in action.
  • Now, some even better news on other persistent eCommerce usability issues – returning goods that (in this case) don’t fit…a nightmare right? Not with Hug, the packaging is easy to open and just a couple of details to fill in on a form enclosed with the item and a bit of selotape to close the package again, stick on a freepost return label and it fits right in the postbox to go back…all done and dusted in about 10 minutes and no problem with my refund…

Hug packaging means delivery usability for eCommerce

The Packaging – easy delivery for the postman and easy pickup for me!


Now that was user-friendly. I’ve used this company a few times now, it’s so easy, and I’m reassured by their customer-orientated delivery and return service. I can cope with a few Website usability niggles because the main bulk of my concern is always with the delivery problem and what happens next.

If delivery and return were that simple for all online shopping, I’d be doing it a lot more. Congratulations to Hug for delivering great usability for online shoppers.

Let me reassure you that I have nothing to do with this company, other than being a customer who was really impressed by their vision for a usable online shopping experience.

Written by cath

November 21, 2006 at 8:14 am

About Usability

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If you want to know more about usability, this will give you a start:

Usability is about designing and making something which fits the purpose it was meant for. It’s usually all about making sure the people who will want or need to use it, can do so, learning quickly how to use it and remembering how (whether or not it is frequently used).

In terms of design, that means thinking about: who will be using it? what will they use it for? where will they be using it? how will they control it? is it efficient? does it work? do the people using it find the experience pleasing?

If you smile every time you use your Nokia mobile phone, there must be a reason for that – is it the fact that you can wander around pretty much anywhere and still chat to your family and friends? or is it something special about this particular phone design that makes it a better experience than something else?

And if you tear your hair out in frustration every time you get to work on your very important, long document in MS Word, is it because you’re struggling with the content of your work? or is their something about this particular tool you are using that although it is supposed to help you create the document, it is actually getting in the way of your writing instead?

If you’ve had experiences like these, good or bad (hopefully both), then you’ve experienced usability in action, and you may enjoy my rants on good design, bad design, possible solutions and the documenting of usability issues that really need to be fixed!

Finally, you may also be interested in my Usability Links, where other people are also trying to get the message out there, each in our own way doing our bit to get designs working for real people.

Thanks for reading!

Written by cath

November 8, 2006 at 1:08 pm

Posted in information, usability


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Welcome to theNightLight blog.

This is a diary of common real-world usability issues and design ideas that could improve our lives.

Our mission at theNightLight is to see the world through the eyes of everyday people going about their daily lives. We aim to make a positive difference and help improve their experiences with everything…design, technology, architecture, transport, and much, much more.

For information on our usability services please see theNightLight webspace.

Written by cath

November 6, 2006 at 10:37 am

Posted in information, usability