Introduction to Volume 3, Issue 2

Welcome to the second issue of volume 3 of JUS!
It seems that the field of usability has been around long enough for us to construct some historical perspectives and reflect on the evolvement and future of the field. In her invited essay, Effie Law takes us on such a journey which she titled: “A voyage to maturing usability”. While she tells us the story of a book on maturing usability, one cannot but wonder how much it reflects the ongoing evolution of usability as a discipline. Through the structure and models of the book, Effie is presenting us with some interesting and useful “big picture” perspectives on the field.
Virtual Reality Environments (VRE) develop rapidly and are used in a wide variety of applications. Can we still employ the standard and familiar usability studies approaches to evaluate the usability of VREs? In their articles titled: “A low-cost test environment for usability studies of head-mounted virtual reality systems”, Ahmed Seffah, Jonathan Benn, and Halima Habieb Mammar introduce some of the more unique challenges in the usability of VREs. In the article they present their methodological approach to some of those challenges and the technical setup that can able it.
While the use of ethnographic research approaches has been discussed in the past, the second peer-review article of this issue provides an excellent summary of such methods and their possible implementation in usability studies. In his article titled: “How may I help you? An ethnographic view of contact-center HCI”, Howard Kiewe reviews the major ethnographic approaches, and then presents a case study of call centers and how such methods were implemented in order to assess usability of call center applications.
Finally, the challenges of evaluating and testing mobile HCI are addressed again in the third article of this issue. Jurgen Kawalek, Annegret Stark, and Marcel Reibeck, in their article: “A new approach to analyse human-mobile computer interaction” , present an approach that is based primarily on objective and non-invasive method of data collection in mobile contexts. No less important is their approach to analyze usability problems based on the capture of user actions, an interesting challenge on its own for usability practitioners.