User Needs

Interface Design

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Usability Testing

One of the most important parts of a software system development project is testing the usability of the system. Usability often gets confused with "usefulness (whether a product helps the user achieve their goals) and "utility" (whether the product has the functionality that the user needs to attain their goals). The most accepted definition for usability is found in the ergonomics standard ISO 9241-11: 1998 [Ergonomic requirements for office work with visual display terminals (VDTs) - Guidance on usability]. ISO 9241-11 defines usability as "a concept comprising the effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction with which specific users can achieve specified goals in a particular environment."

Setting "usability objectives" is a critical first step in performing usability testing. Usability objectives are typically developed on the basis of data collected during user needs analysis. These objectives must be stated in measurable terms so that the results of usability testing can be used to clearly establish whether the system met these objectives.

Usability testing includes the develop of a test plan (specifying the usability objectives, test procedures and reporting requirements), the development of test senarios, conducting the testing according to the plan, and reporting test results.

Synergetic Applications has considerable experience in the development of test plans and performing usability testing. Please contact Dr. Williams ( for more information on how we might help you.