Useful not Usable
Useful speaks of key early design decisions. It speaks of simplicity and core functionality.
Usable speaks of after the fact thinking. A tool can be made usable that is not useful to anyone. Usable is an add on … a nice to have. It sets a low bar. We want to be involved with products that people actually love…. they must be useful.
If we are interested in positive technology we need to focus on Useful.
So how to make tools useful?
First we need to find out how they are useful. If we have a product worth its salt find those true fans who love it. Why is it valuable to them? If we are just starting out then look at their competitors and find some of there fans. Find them and ask them in their own context.
Secondly we need to share that knowledge. Tools are only useful if we know how to use them well. Build a community of users around your product. Get them to share how they use it. Reward them for being part of that community. Build relationships … once you have a critical mass it will take on a shape of its own.
Thirdly guard your usefulness carefully… a poor redesign can kill “useful”.