Best Usability Quotations

A general principle for all user interface design is to go through all of your design elements and remove them one at a time. If the design works as well without a certain design element, kill it.   -- Jakob Nielsen, author and consultant on user interfaces

A good website should have at least the usability and usefulness of a good book. But, although rarely fully exploited, it has the potential to be far more usable, largely because of the availability of hyperlinking.   -- a Bellevue Linux Users Group member, August 2005

A well-designed and humane interface does not need to be split into beginner and expert subsystems.   -- Jef Raskin, human-computer interface expert and a designer of the first Macintosh

Computer science departments have always considered 'user interface' research to be sissy work.   -- Nicholas Negroponte, founder and director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Laboratory

Computing has gone from something tiny and specialized to something that affects every walk of life. It doesn't make sense anymore to think of it as just one discipline. I expect to see separate departments of user interface, for example, to start emerging at universities.   -- Nathan Myhrvold, former Microsoft executive

Don't make me think.   -- Steve Krug, usability expert

If the user can't use it, it doesn't work.   -- Susan Dray, usability consultant

Most websites today fail basic tests of usability.   -- Forrester Research

No matter how good your backend systems are, the users will only remember your front end. Fail there and you will fail, period.   -- Tristan Louis, writer about the Internet

The Interface is the system.   -- unknown

The only 'intuitive' interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.   -- unknown (but often attributed to a Bruce Ediger)

Usability cost-benefit data shows that including usability in product development actually cuts the time to market and increases sales because usability and ease of use build quality into products and catch many expensive problems early on in the cycle when they can be addressed at lower cost. Finally, working with users from the beginning of a product cycle ensures that the product is being designed so that users will be satisfied.   -- Claire Marie Karat, human-computer interface researcher at IBM

Usability is critical for any application, but for mass-market software, usability spells success or failure more clearly than any other feature.   -- Jerrold Grochow, Chief Technology Officer, American Management Systems

Usability really just means making sure that something works well: that a person of average (or even below average) ability and experience can use the thing - whether it's a web site, remote control, or revolving door - for its intended purpose without getting hopelessly frustrated.   -- Steve Krug

Usability rules the Web. Simply stated, if the customer can't find a product, then he or she will not buy it.   -- Jakob Nielsen

User interfaces have to do with people, and computer scientists don't like to work on problems involving people. The classic work on user interfaces that sets the current paradigm was invented outside of universities in industrial research laboratories and government-funded institutes.   -- Stuart Card, interface researcher at Xerox PARC

... when folks read news online, their eyes go for text first, particularly captions and summaries, and graphics only later.   -- Bryan & Jeff Eisenberg, usability consultants and authors

For quotations about computers in general, see Best Computer Quotations, and for quotations about Linux, see Best Linux Quotations.

Created August 17, 2005.
Copyright © 2005 The Linux Information Project. All Rights Reserved.