Hi, welcome to my blog – Usability Friction! My name is Ashley Towers and I’m a Software Engineer/Project Manager based in Sheffield, UK. My blog is about how to improve the design of physical products and software user interfaces. The name comes from a measurement of how much an interface “gets in the way” and slows you down. For example, if an interface throws up a load of unnecessary confirmation boxes – these increase the interface’s friction by slowing you down in reaching your goal (strictly speaking, the term is “interface friction” but I think usability friction is a better name for a blog!).

Usability is something I’m passionate about, badly designed products frustrate me. There’s no excuse! Your customer’s experience should be one of the most important things you focus on. Most of the problems I see could easily be resolved by applying good practices (or even a little common sense)! Improving your product’s usability increases customer satisfaction, cuts down the number of support calls and makes them more likely to recommend your products.

The majority of my career has been in software development. However, I spent a number of years working as Project Office Manager for Sheffield City Council. Starting in this job was an eye opener – when you are immersed in a technical environment every day you just assume everyone knows about computers – but in the real world it’s amazing how basic some people’s grasp of IT is! There’s nothing wrong with this – my new colleagues were all intelligent people – IT is just not of interest to them – it’s a means to an end; but it drove home how important the interaction design and user experience are. A good product should never make a user feel stupid!

So, in my blog I try to explain some of the principles of good design; give examples of good and bad design (then say *why* they are good or bad!) and write tutorials on how you can apply these to your products. And just do my best to try and make the world a little less frustrating!