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I was asked today by Alistair what I meant by the usability of online photos?

It’s interesting to consider that in reality photographers will always be thinking about how their photos will be perceived and what impact they want them to have, but they will never articulate this using terms such as ‘usability’ or 'user experience’.

A photographer will take a photo in a particular way to illicit a particular response. We design digital products in a certain way to illicit a particular response. It seems fitting and appropriate that we could then share a common vocabulary as we regularly use the output of the photographers craft in our work.

So let’s coin a phrase, what is a usable photo?

A usable photo is one that has a positive impact upon someone that views it. It may help them with their task, make them happy, trigger a memory, remind them of something, help them to choose or to illustrate a point.

A usable photo is easy to interpret, has a positive impact upon the overall experience of using something.

But of course usability is only part of user experience design.

ISO 9241-210[1] defines user experience as “a person’s perceptions and responses that result from the use or anticipated use of a product, system or service”. 

Given this definition it becomes immediately apparent just how powerful photos can be in terms of influencing peoples 'perceptions and responses’.

This is why I believe photos are so important and we should be doing more as a community to improve the usability of online photos.

If you agree, why not join my new Linkedin photoUX group to share your knowledge and experience.

A blog celebrating photos, the unsung heroes of great user experience design, by James Chudley (@chudders)

My 60 page 'Usability of web photos' ebook is for sale on Amazon for the price of a coffee.

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