Introduction to Usability …
and a whole lot more
Eric F. Shaver, Ph.D.
May 24, 2010
Overview of Human Factors & Ergonomics
What is Usability?
UX, UE, & UCD - How Do They Fit Together?
Who am I?
• University of Idaho
B.S. – Psychology
M.S. – Human Factors Psychology
– Risk compensation and personality differences: Identifying differences
between risk compensators and non-risk compensators.
• North Carolina State University
Ph.D. – Ergonomics Psychology
– Evaluating the influence of presentation modality on the
communication of pharmaceutical risk information in direct-to-
consumer (DTC) television commercials
• Affiliate Assistant Professor of Psychology (U of I)
Who am I?, cont.
Benchmark Research & Safety (BRS)
Founded in 2000
Locations: Moscow, Boise, Portland, & Grand Junction
Human Factors & Ergonomics
• Computer Science
BRS – Work We Do
Human Factors & Ergonomics
Usability & User Experience
Product & Occupational Safety
Litigation Support & Expert Testimony
Training & Education
What is HFE?
HFE is a unique scientific discipline that systematically
applies the knowledge of human abilities and limitations
to the design of systems with the goal of optimizing the
interaction between people and other system elements
to enhance safety, performance, and satisfaction.
In simpler terms, HFE focuses on designing the world to
better accommodate people.
Origins of HFE
Industries Benefiting from HFE
Aerospace Health care
Consumer products Petroleum
What Value Does HFE Add?
• User experience & • Development costs
engagement • Need for redesign & recall
• Ease of learning & use • Support & services costs
• Satisfaction, trust & loyalty • Training time
• Repeat purchases • Maintenance costs
• Sales & market share • Accidents, injuries &
• Stock value illnesses
• Productivity & quality • Lost workdays
• Safety & health • Error rates
• Absenteeism & turnover
• Labor costs
• Equipment damages
• Insurance rates
“Extent to which a product can be used by specified
users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness,
efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of
• “Guidance for Usability” - ISO 9241-11 (1998)
Usability Defined, cont.
“Usability is an approach to product development that
incorporates direct user feedback throughout the
development cycle in order to reduce costs and create
products and tools that meet user needs.”
• Usability Professionals' Association
But … is a “usable” website sufficient???
User Experience (UX)
“UX is about technology that fulfills more than just
instrumental needs in a way that acknowledges its use
as a subjective, situation, complex and dynamic
encounter. UX is a consequence of a user’s internal
states (e.g., predispositions, expectations, needs,
motivation, mood, etc.), the characteristics of the design
system (e.g., complexity, purpose, usability,
functionality, etc.), and the context (or the environment)
within which interaction occurs (e.g., organizational /
social setting, meaningfulness of the activity,
voluntariness of use, etc.).” (Hassenzahl & Tractinsky, 2006, p.
User Experience (UX), cont.
User engagement is one aspect of UX
User Engagement (UE)
It’s a category of user experience characterized by
• positive affect,
• aesthetic and sensory appeal,
• interactivity, and
• perceived user control.
The Way …
Employ a user-centered design (UCD) approach,
which incorporates human factors and ergonomics
(HFE) principles, to facilitate the creation of an optimal
user experience (UX) to maximize user engagement
(UE) when interacting with a given technology.
Phase 1 – Planning
Identify key stakeholders
Assemble a multidisciplinary team
Identify the questions that need answering
Phase 2 – Analysis
• Identify target audience
• Create user profiles / personas
• User requirements analysis
• Task analysis
• Develop user scenarios
• Where & how will the technology be implemented?
At a high level you have …
Two types of data
Two ways to collect it
UX Engagement Metrics
• Page views
• Unique views
• Returning visitors
• Registered users
• Time on site
• Daily active users
A HFE / usability expert reviews the technology to
Other names: heuristic evaluation; usability inspection
• Cost effective
• Identifies the “low-hanging fruit” to fix
• Relies on the knowledge and expertise of the evaluator
• Often doesn’t identify missing functionality
Expert Evaluations – Examples
Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics
• Visibility of system status
• Match between system and the real world
• User control and freedom
• Consistency and standards
• Error prevention
• Recognition rather than recall
• Flexibility and efficiency of use
• Aesthetic and minimalist design
• Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors
• Help and documentation
Expert Evaluations – Examples, cont.
Shneiderman’s 8 Golden Rules of Interface Design
• Strive for consistency
• Enable frequent users to use shortcuts
• Offer informative feedback
• Design dialog to yield closure
• Offer simple error handling
• Permit easy reversal of actions
• Support internal locus of control
• Reduce short-term memory load
A method to evaluate a product by having individuals
Questions to ask:
• What do you want to know?
• What do you want the users to do?
• How many users will be needed? Recruitment? Payment?
• Where will the testing be performed? Lab, field, or remote?
Ten Steps to Usability Test (Hansen)
Do your homework
Write the test plan
Design the test
Arrange a test location and equipment
Conduct a dry run
Set up the test room
Conduct the test
Compile and analyze the results
Hansen, M. (1991). Ten steps to usability testing. Proceedings of the 9th
Annual International Conference on Systems Documentation, p. 135-139.
Top Ten Myths About Usability (Tullis)
Usability is just common sense.
Usability is just about making things look nice.
Usability can’t be measured.
Usability means usability for the “average” person.
Usability doesn’t have any real impact on our world.
Usability costs too much.
This must be usable because we built it in Flash, Ajax, etc.
Usability is a fad. This too shall pass.
Usability doesn’t impact the bottom line.
Usability is only applies to computers and web sites.
Eric F. Shaver, Ph.D.
Benchmark Research & Safety, Inc.
3355 N. Five Mile Road, #277
Boise, ID 83713
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