Good usability is often seen as optional – something we can include in a system if we have the time and the resources for it. But sometimes, bad usability can cause economic damage. A couple of years ago, here in Denmark, a large, well-respected organization had to write manual checks for months to avoid having their phones cut off. The reason: Their new ERP system was so hard to use that invoices were not getting entered or approved. Consequently, no money went out.
But the citizens of Dallas, Texas are about to experience that bad usability can actually be dangerous. Because of their new records management system, police officers are unable to complete the necessary paperwork in time. And of course the state cannot hold people incarcerated without the proper paperwork. So after three days, the judge has to release dangerous criminals back on the street, because charges have not been entered into the IT system.
Good usability is not optional.