This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Usability Engineering. The user interface to an interactive product such as software can be defined as the languages through which the user and the product communicate with one another. In the case of software applications, this usually means the way displays and feedback are designed (the application-to-user language) and the way users indicate to the application what they want to do next through interactions with display elements via input devices such as a mouse or keyboard (the user-to-application language). As far as users are concerned, the user interface is the product. Just about their entire experience with the product is their experience with its user interface. Usability is a measurable characteristic of a product user interface that is present to a greater or lesser degree. One broad dimension of usability is how easy to learn the user interface is for novice and casual users. Another is how easy to use (efficient, flexible, powerful) the user interface is for frequent and proficient users, after they have mastered the initial learning of the interface. The user interface consists of the languages through which the user and product communicate To achieve usability, the design of the user interface to any interactive product, including software, needs to take into account and be tailored around a number of factors, including: Cognitive, perceptual, and motor capabilities and constraints of people in general Special and unique characteristics of the intended user population in particular Unique characteristics of the users' physical and social work environment Unique characteristics and requirements of the users' tasks, which are being supported by the product Unique capabilities and constraints of the chosen software and/or hardware and platform for the product In the words of Karat and Dayton (1995), "A usable software system is one that supports the effective and efficient completion of tasks in a given work context." The bottom-line benefits of more usable, or user-friendly, products to business users include Increased productivity Decreased user training time and cost Decreased user errors Increased accuracy of data input and data interpretation Decreased need for ongoing technical support The bottom-line benefits of usability to development organizations (including internal development organizations, vendors of commercial products, and contract development organizations) include Greater profits due to more competitive products/services Decreased overall development and maintenance costs Decreased customer support costs More follow-on business due to satisfied customers (See Chapter 20 for a complete cost-benefit analysis of Usability Engineering.) Usability Engineering is a discipline that provides structured methods for achieving usability in user interface design during product development. It is a discipline with roots in several other basic disciplines, including cognitive psychology, experimental psychology, ethnography, and software engineering. Usability Engineering provides structured methods for optimizing user interface design during product development Cognitive psychology is the study of human perception (vision, hearing, etc.) and cognition (human memory, learning, problem solving, decision making, reasoning, language, etc.). From cognitive psychology, Usability Engineering draws knowledge about these aspects of human information processing and applies it to the design
or what techniques to apply. Development organizations also need structured methods for achieving usability in their products. so this general accumulated knowledge will find its way into their products.of the user interfaces to interactive products in such a way as to exploit the strengths and support the weaknesses of human information processing. usability is not dealt with at the same level as other aspects of software engineering (e. Usability Engineering adapts these general components of software engineering to provide an engineering-like process for the design and development of usable product user interfaces. and describe unfamiliar cultures. applying structured methods without also drawing upon well established design principles and guidelines is inefficient at best and may simply fail at worst. An early reference to a Usability Engineering methodology was offered by Gould and Lewis (1985). Optimal design cannot be accomplished by the application of generic guidelines alone. such as generic business software. Design is complex. resources for appropriate activities are not given priority by project management). a particular project with its limited resources may never stumble upon a design approach that works. clear usability objectives are not set. they all have this basic approach in common. While there are many different methods of software engineering. a science used by social and cultural anthropologists to investigate. Methodological approaches to Usability Engineering have been evolving since the 1970s. and designing and testing in iterative cycles until goals are met. Conversely. interpret. They described a very general approach to Usability Engineering involving three global strategies: Early focus on users and tasks Empirical measurement Iterative design Although Gould and Lewis did not specify exactly how these global usability strategies could be integrated into an overall software development lifecycle. their ideas were quite revolutionary at the . applying structured methods without also following well-established design guidelines may fail Either of these two things alone is necessary but not sufficient. Optimal design cannot be achieved with generic principles alone every product and its users are unique. Experimental psychology uses empirical methods to measure and study human behavior. needs at least two things: Knowledge and application of known user interface design principles and guidelines Knowledge and application of structured methods for achieving usability For some types of interactive products. lends itself to studying users and determining user and usability requirements for product design. analyze. Design guidelines must be tailored for and validated against the unique product requirements. Usability Engineering draws upon these methods to measure user performance and satisfaction with product user interfaces. any development organization that produces interactive products (software or other kinds). "In most cases of the design and development of commercial software. and there is no cookbook approach that can rely on general principles and guidelines alone.. Basing user interface design on what we know about human cognition helps us to design interfaces that will be easier to learn. Development organizations need staff who are fluent in these design guidelines to participate in design efforts. Ethnography. study. and this is what the structured methods accomplish. easier to use. According to Karat and Dayton (1995). Just having a design guru on board does not guarantee that design principles and guidelines will find their way into products. and has an interest in and motivation to produce usable interactive products. there are well-established design principles and guidelines available that are based on objective research and reported in the literature. Software engineering is an approach to software development that involves defining application requirements. Conversely. Without the benefit of the initial guidance of sound design principles during first passes at design. setting goals.g." However. because every product and its intended set of users are unique. and otherwise tailored to optimally support the specific target users doing the specific work tasks a product is intended to support.
and scoped. time frame and budget. Since Gould and Lewis's classic article. as opposed to reworkings of existing projects. which make incorporating their usability approach difficult. and. medical technology. however. complexity. the field has been evolving through three distinct approaches to introducing Usability Engineering into product development organizations: 1. Shneiderman 1992. as opposed. to projects intended to complete reengineer a business ly and identify opportunities for new products. it is equally applicable to projects developing more specialized and unique software-based products based on very different hardware and software platforms. as is the focus in Beyer and Holtzblatt (1998). and a fairly simple product. commercial. planned.Redesigning the whole development process around Usability Engineering expertise. and contract development projects of any size. They also cited all the many obstacles present in larger. written work products into the existing development process 3. it is equally applicable to projects developing any kind of interactive product The lifecycle can be adapted to support internal development proj ects. and techniques The Usability Engineering Lifecycle described in this book represents the spirit of Button and Dourish's third approach above. time frame. but it involved a small project team.Adding cognitive scientists to design teams to provide input on design 2.time. It can also be adapted to projects varying in size. Web sites and applications. scientific datagathering instruments.Inserting Usability Engineering methods and techniques with specific. They offered a case study in which they applied their approach. others have offered general frameworks for Usability Engineering (Mantei and Teorey 1988. The lifecycle can be adapted to support internal. more complex development projects and project team organizations. commercial development projects. the lifecycle is oriented towards development projects that have already been defined. and contract development projects. Although it is described mostly in the context of developing typical office software applications. heavily populated with usability experts. in fact. methods. The orientation is also towards projects creating fairly new products. any kind of interactive product. such as factory equipment. Wixon and Wilson 1997). Button and Dourish (1996) point out that. As described in this book. for example. and budget . complexity. you can draw upon the tasks and techniques of the lifecycle as it is described in this book to support these other kinds of projects as well. Nielsen 1992. With a little imagination. Although the lifecycle is described mostly in the context of developing typical office software applications. historically.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.