Try holding your breath for as long as it takes your homepage to load. - Tony Karp, Art and the Zen of Web Sites

What is usability?

There is an evolution that takes place whenever people use something.

Imagine the world passing a brick around from hand to hand. Over time, its edges soften until it's a smooth, rounded stone. An optimal shape has formed by being used and the brick has now "adapted" to an ideal shape for further travel among human hands.

Usability is all about harnessing this evolutionary process.

Another example - imagine you're an architect. You've got to lay down some paths for the interior courtyard of an office block complex. In deciding where to put them, you may try to take into consideration a mass of human variables, such as:

It's a daunting task until you let the problem solve itself. A practical solution might be to lay