Whether they use the word "usability" or not, these quotes from experts in the technology and other industries are good examples of the problem that usability solves.
"Usability is about human behavior. It recognizes that humans are lazy, get emotional, are not interested in putting a lot of effort into, say, getting a credit card and generally prefer things that are easy to do vs. those that are hard to do."
"Try moving usability thinking into our buildings, call centers, forms and products. It's common sense: If your business is easier to use than your competitor's, people will be more likely to do business with you. A usable business is a more competitive business."
--David McQuillen in "Taking Usability Offline" Darwin Magazine, June 2003
"People want less information, they don't want more information. They want it to be easier for them to use. Easier for them to get what they want. Easier for them to do what they want to do. The next big breakthrough, in my mind, is going to come from the usability standpoint... A lot of the technology is there right now. The pieces are there... [Technology] is ahead of the software curve... ahead of people's and companies' ability to integrate the technology and to support the technology."
--Ted Waitt, chairman, CEO and founder, Gateway, Inc. ("Charlie Rose", PBS, 5/27/98)
"The impact of new software and technologies on employees is rapidly becoming a competitiveness issue to companies... There's a lot of traps if we're not careful as we deploy new technologies. We could field a product that ends up injuring people. That's why ergonomics has got to become part of a company's corporate culture."
--Hank Austin, manager/Safety and Environmental Affairs,
U.S. Automobile Association [USAA] (Computerworld, 4/27/98)
"One reason so many large, important systems are not being used, or that users have to work around the system to get the work done, is that the programmers didn't understand what the users were doing. They develop the application according to their own interpretation."
--Finn Kensing, Roskilde University, Denmark (CIO, 10/15/96)
The trouble with software is... it sucks. That's not a nice thing to say... but it is a fundamental truth. Software customers -- you, me, CIOs of multibillion-dollar companies...have learned to live with mediocre software. We do not count on software to be intuitively easy to understand or to work consistently. Instead, we make do.
--Stewart Alsop ("The Problem with Software" Fortune, 6/16/96)