Introduction to Volume 3, Issue 1

Welcome to the first issue of volume 3 of JUS!

The ability to extract practical information from research articles still remains a challenge for any practitioner, particularly for usability practitioners. Caroline Jarrett, an associate editor in JUS, addresses this problem in her editorial: “On the problems and joys of reading research papers for practitioner purposes”. Caroline offers a personal, yet experienced, perspective on the problems associated with getting some useful and practical material out of articles. Caroline concludes that inapplicable research still has its value and it all depends on what the objective of the research is.
The challenge of sifting through the data we collect in usability studies and sorting out what are the issues we need or can deal with has always been a challenge to usability practitioners. In the first peer-reviewed article “A Structured Process for Transforming Usability Data into Usability Information”, Jonathan Howarth, Terence S. Andre, and Rex Hartson suggest that raw usability problems can be viewed as instances of usability problems. They present a structured process to extract usability problems from their instances.

Can we simply take the findings of a comparative usability study based on questionnaires and make a decision with respect to the alternatives? Young Sam Ryu, Kari Babski-Reeves, Tonya L. Smith-Jackson, and Maury A. Nussbaum, in their article: “Decision Models for Comparative Usability Evaluation of Mobile Phones Using the Mobile Phone Usability Questionnaire (MPUQ)” suggest that such a decision can be influenced by the questionnaire used. They compared usability of mobile phones and found that the questionnaire used and the method of computing the final scores can influence the decision making among the tested phones.

One of the objectives of empirical usability testing with real participants is to be cost-effective. This often entails reducing costs due to the participants. Juan E. Gilbert, Andrea Williams, and Cheryl D. Seals, in their article: “Clustering for Usability Participant Selection” addressed this issue. They suggest a method and describe a tool that can help decide on a smaller sub-set of participants that can still prove to be cost-effective for the objectives of the test.