Introduction to Volume 1, Issue 1

Welcome to the inaugural issue of the Journal of Usability Studies.

This journal was born in response to a growing need in the community of usability practitioners and researchers. Have you ever you looked for the most recent findings of usability studies that you can learn from or wondered where to publish interesting results from your own usability studies? Until now, there was no available forum for usability practitioners and applied researchers to share and disseminate many of their findings and experiences that are of general interest to this community. To meet this need and to fill the gap between academic research and business case studies, the Journal of Usability Studies was born. This publication will be a peer-reviewed, on-line journal dedicated to promoting and enhancing the practice, research, and education of usability engineering.

In this issue:

What are the challenges that face us as usability practitioners and researchers? More than ten years after introducing the notions of discount and guerrilla usability, Jakob Nielsen revisits them and offers interesting and thought-provoking ideas in his short essay on: “Usability for the Masses”.

We are in a period when mobile devices and applications are rapidly becoming more and more pervasive. One of the challenges that this trend introduces to usability practitioners is how to test the usability of mobile devices and applications with high ecological validity. In their article: “Usability Testing of Mobile Applications: A Comparison between a Laboratory and Field Tests”, Anne Kaikkonen from Nokia and others suggest that testing mobile applications in the laboratory may not be much different than field testing.

The benefits of performing iterative usability tests are probably familiar to most usability practitioners. Alex Genov, in his article “Iterative Usability Testing as Continuous Feedback: A Control Systems Perspective”, proposes to adopt a different framework for iterative usability testing. The framework of Systems Control Theory (aka Cybernetics) can be beneficial in understanding and extracting the benefits of iterative testing.

And on a similar note, iterative testing is very often equated with formative testing. Mary Theofanos and Whitney Quesenbery, in their article “Towards the Design of Effective Formative Test Reports”, describe the international efforts to develop a common report format for the results of formative usability tests. It should be noted that a previous such effort sponsored primarily by NIST has led to the formulation of an international standard for reporting summative usability tests. Finally, we are at an age were we do most of our travel arrangements ourselves via our favorite travel web site. Are there any new and unique challenges to the design of travel web sites? Deborah Carstens and Pauline Patterson have examined this issue as part of a multi-phase project, and are presenting their findings in their article: “Usability testing of Travel Websites.”