A Pattern Language Approach to Usability Knowledge Management

Peer-reviewed Article

pp. 76-90Download full article (PDF)


Knowledge gained from usability testing is often applied merely to the immediate product under test and then forgotten—at least at an organizational level. This article describes a usability knowledge management system (KMS) based on principles of pattern language and use-case writing that offers a way to turn lessons learned from usability testing into organizational knowledge that can be leveraged across different projects and different design teams.

Practitioner’s Take Away

  • Usability Knowledge Management System does not have to be complicated; it just has to be useful for informing design decisions.
  • Patterns are a practical way to abstract usability findings so they can be generalized across other projects and other teams.
  • Use-case and scenario names can provide useful metadata structures for retrieving usability patterns.
  • My KMS is not your KMS: Patterns and metadata that make my knowledge useful in the kinds of applications I design might not be the same patterns that make your knowledge useful. Create patterns that work for your design needs.