Introduction to Volume 2, Issue 3

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Welcome to the third issue of volume 2 of JUS!

Ginny Redish, one of the first in our discipline to co-author a classic book on “mainstream” usability testing, is now drawing our attention to other important areas of usability testing that are off the “mainstream”. In her essay, “Expanding Usability Testing to Evaluate Complex Systems”, she discusses many of the different aspects and considerations when approaching the usability testing of complex systems, such as in medicine, transportation, project management, and others. The essay is very practical and offers many take-aways to practitioners engaged in the testing of such systems.

Agile software development methods are becoming more and more pervasive. How can we incorporate User Centered Design approaches into such methods? Desiree Sy offers a first-hand account of “Adapting Usability Investigations for Agile User-Centered Design” in the first peer-review article of this issue. Through her case study, Desiree Sy describes how one can successfully implement UCD methods and usability testing even in the seemingly coding-oriented method of developing software.

Another peer-reviewed article in this issue also points to a usability testing method that is off the traditional, “mainstream” approaches. Laura Downey, in her article, “Group Usability Testing: Evolution in Usability Techniques”, presents a case study in which a group of users performs test tasks and is being observed by a group of evaluators. She suggests that within certain circumstances, group usability testing can turn out to be more efficacious than individual testing.

Finally, Ritch Macefield in his article “Usability studies and the Hawthorne Effect” addresses the interesting issue of potential “Hawthorne Effect” taking place in usability studies. Ritch discusses several interpretations of the original Hawthorne Effect, how it may relate to usability studies, and offers some ideas of how to reduce the possibility of such effects.