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Usability refers to the efficiency, comfort, safety and satisfaction with which a wide range of people and under a variety of conditions can perform their tasks with a product (i.e., a good or a service). It is much more than a measure of how easily a thing can be used, and it encompasses all aspects of the product and its use, including the hardware and software interfaces, the documentation, the packaging and even the services associated with the product. The meaning is similar to that of the term user-friendliness.

Usability is generally not something that can be merely added on as an afterthought during the final stages of product development or production. Rather, it usually must be considered from the very first stages of product planning and design and through final delivery and servicing.


Ergonomics and Cognitive Ergonomics:
the word comes from the Greek "ergon", work, action, and "nomos", law, rule, introduced in 1949 by wales psycologist K.F.H. Murrell.  
Ergonomics is sometimes described as "fitting the system to the human," meaning that through informed decisions; equipment, tools, environments and tasks can be selected and designed to fit unique human abilities and limitations. Typical examples in the "physical ergonomics" arena include designing a lifting job to occur at or near waist height, selecting a tool shape that reduces awkward postures, and reducing unnecessary tasks and movements to increase production or reduce errors and waste. "Cognitive ergonomics," on the other hand, focuses on the fit between human cognitive abilities and limitations and the machine, task, environment, etc. Example cognitive ergonomics applications include designing a software interface to be "easy to use," designing a sign so that the majority of people will understand and act in the intended manner, designing an airplane cockpit or nuclear power plant control system so that the operators will not make catastrophic errors.


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