Learnability vs usabiity


Here’s an interesting topic that came up in work recently.

We build a lot of things for the .GOV platform which means things must be very learnable and usable by everyone, first time. This can mean slightly longer interactions; the .GOV framework doesn’t lend itself well to expert users who will find the various ways of doing things slow.

This is the trade-off between something that’s highly learnable but not usable once it’s learned.

A project I’ve recently worked on focuses more on building around the expert use case since we know the system will be used many times; using the highly learnable .GOV framework will not work and will likely slow expert users down.

We’ve sacrificed some learnability in order to make it much more usable

Just sharing a few thoughts.



Interesting challenge – and also one that we face in designing this product. New users are used to traditional forum platforms so Discourse can be a bit of a surprise and you need some support. Once you’ve used it for a while that support would become annoying.

We handle this using Trust Levels and sandboxes. Brand new users (TL0) can choose to go through a learning tutorial, can only complete limited functions and get a lot of just-in-time messaging. As they move up through the TL ranks they are granted more functionality and the messaging goes away.

Could you do something similar?



No. We’re limited by development time.

So it’s content.