The European Usability Support Centres have contributed to the development of a complementary set of techniques for assuring the usability of interactive systems and web sites by:
- Measuring the usability of a system
- Assessing whether a system conforms to ergonomic guidelines
- Assessing whether a human centred development process was used
- Assessing the human centredness of an organisation (on a 6 point scale)
- Assessing the capability of an organisation to perform human-centred design
- Accrediting usability support providers
1. Measuring usability
Usability can be measured as part of a usability test. Robust metrics for measuring the effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction were developed by the MUSiC project. (Further details on effectiveness and efficiency can be found in a paper on The MUSiC Performance Measurement Method.) Satisfaction can be measured by a questionnaire such as SUMI.
The Common Industry Format for usability test reports can be used to report usability metrics.
2. Assessing whether a product conforms to ergonomic guidelines
ISO 9241 parts 12 to 17 contain detailed guidance on user interface features, with checklists which can be used to assess compliance with the guidelines. A number of organisations (including Lloyds Register in the UK) have developed schemes for structuring, simplifying and certifying the assessment process.
3. Assessing whether a human centred development process was used
The ISO 13407Gconformity assessment scheme provides a procedure and a set of criteria which can be used to assess how closely a development process has followed the principles of ISO 13407, Human Centred Process for Interactive Systems. The assessment procedure is based on a review of the human centred information produced during a product development lifecycle.
4. Assessing the human centredness of an organisation
The Usability Maturity Attitude Scaleprovides a checklist of practices which enable an organisation to be placed on a 6 point usability maturity scale. The levels on the scale are summarised as "usability is: unrecognised, recognised, considered, implemented, integrated, institutionalised".
5. Assessing the capability of an organisation to perform human-centred design
The Usability Maturity Modelin ISO TR 18529 can be used to assess the degree of capability of an organisation to perform human-centred processes. It defines 7 processes which can be used as part of a SPICE or CMM assessment: ensure human centred design content in system strategy, plan the human centred design process, specify the user and organisational requirements, understand and specify the context of use, produce design solutions, evaluate designs against requirements, and facilitate the human-system implementation.
6. Accrediting usability support providers
The Usability Support Provider Accreditation Schemeprovides criteria for assessing whether a usability support provider possesses core competencies in: usability consultancy, planning user centred design, and evaluation and testing, and optional competencies in requirements engineering, product design support, training and technology transfer. Organisations wishing to be accredited are either visited by an auditor, or provide an auditor with examples of their work which demonstrate their competency.
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