Usability Vs Usefulness – Which is more important for a startup?
Nowadays, usability is often considered as one of the most important aspect while developing an application. Every company, whether it’s small or big, is striving hard to develop software products having outstanding usability. Everyday, you may land on at least one new article with a title almost like this: ‘how to build a highly usable app’. The flourishing startup industry also takes extreme care in building apps that can be easily usable for their target audience. Unfortunately, amidst this brouhaha over usability, we have overlooked another important factor, that is, ‘usefulness’. However, it can be seen that discussions about the significance of usefulness has started emerging recently.
We would like to give you very simple definitions of the two concepts before entering into the details of the debate over ‘usefulness vs usability.
To put it simply, usability is the Ease of Use. It measures the easiness a user can experience while he tries to complete a desired task with your product.
Usefulness indicates the ‘value’ of solution ascribed to it by users. How much useful are the features, function and data of your product to a user determines the usefulness of that product.
Why usefulness is so crucial?
Even though you can build a product with great usability, it may not be received well by your potential customers due to the lack of usefulness. A lot of features and easy functionality cannot themselves determine the success of the product unless the users can find it valuable or useful. The core objective of the product should be accepted by the users first. That core purpose should be able to improve their life or work in a new way. If users can find such a value in your product, they will consider it useful and accept it.
How can you measure the usefulness?
An early step in this aspect was a study conducted by Fred Davis the founder of Technology Acceptance Model (TAM, in the beginning of 1990s. He believed that assessing the usefulness of an existing product will help predicting the usefulness of a new product. You can get insights into the criteria that customers use to value a product. He created a questionnaire that consisted of two sections; first one is to measure usefulness and the second one is to measure usability or ease of use. The result of the study was so striking. According to the results he got, usefulness scores were about 1.5 times more crucial than usability scores in predicting the actual usage by the customers. This indicates the importance of usefulness when you plan to launch a new product in the market. It will help you understand whether customers will accept or reject your product.
Now you can adopt many methods to measure usefulness. You can merge different methods judiciously to attain more accurate results. Surveys, interviews, focus group studies, etc. can be used to collect data for analysis. Another highly effective method is introducing the prototypes of your products to users and analyzing how they respond to it.
Startups and Usefulness
The flourishing startup sector is major fuel in the global economic growth. Many extremely talented youngsters jump on to the challenges of entrepreneurship instead of seeking jobs in well-established companies. They have great passion, skillset, creativity and courage to make their own mark in the industry. However, at the same time we can see that most of the startups fail to achieve success in a long run. Some studies found out that 9 out of 10 startups fail in the US.
We can see that most of the startups do not consider the element of usefulness, when we try to analyze the reasons for their failures. Instead of thinking from their customers’ point of view, they look at things from their perspective. They try really hard to produce a beautiful, flawless, and ‘easy to use’ app with a lot of good features. But they don’t understand the fact that customers actually need a highly useful app. That’s their first priority. So startups should stick on to usefulness even from the ideation stage of a product.