A Structured Process for Transforming Usability Data into Usability Information

Peer-reviewed Article

pp. 7-23

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Much research has been devoted to developing usability evaluation methods that are used in evaluating interaction designs. More recently, however, research has shifted away from evaluation methods and comparisons of evaluation methods to issues of how to use the raw usability data generated by these methods. Associated with this focus is the assumption that the transformation of the raw usability data into usability information is relatively straightforward. We would argue that this assumption is incorrect, especially for novice usability practitioners. In this article, we present a structured process for transforming raw usability data into usability information that is based on a new way of thinking about usability problem data. The results of a study of this structured process indicate that it helps improve the effectiveness of novice usability practitioners.

Practitioner’s Take Away

  • There is a need for a more structured approach to transforming raw usability data generated by usability evaluation methods into usability information. Currently, this transformation is more of an art than a process and is highly dependent on the skill and experience of the usability practitioner.
  • Usability problem instances serve as a bridge between raw usability data and usability problems. Each occurrence of a usability problem as encountered by a participant and observed by the evaluator is a usability problem instance. The same usability problem may be experienced by multiple participants or multiple times by one participant.
    For transforming usability data into usability information, a structured process based on usability problem instances can improve the effectiveness of novice usability practitioners.
  • Existing usability engineering tool support helps to improve the efficiency of experts, but does little to improve the effectiveness of novices. To continue to grow the usability engineering profession, it is important to improve usability engineering tools, so that they better support novices.