For consumer web properties, especially the free ones of the social network/social media variety, usability is king. I was employed by a company, Zude.com, that had a great online concept but poor execution when it came to usability. People couldn’t figure out how to use us.
I conducted some usability studies with college kids and found there are basically three types of users. Let’s call them: Know-hows, Diggers and See-yahs. Know-hows believe they know how to use any site and keep trying different things to get the answers, often bypassing the Help button. They scan the page overlooking instructional text boxes, assuming the answer is staring them in the face. Know-hows give up eventually, but rarely ask for help. Diggers are the most analytical and once confronted with a non-intuitive site look for help immediately. If they can’t find help, they keep digging – taking it as a challenge. “The answer has to be here somewhere.” Diggers are relentless and will find the answers, but will not come back if the experience was too stupid or goofy. And See-yahs, just have better things to do. They may try to figure you out two or three times but if they can’t, they leave. See-yahs want intuitive and easy and if they don’t get it, they go they are better understood. Peace!