Human-Computer Interaction: Ergonomics and User Interfaces - Vol. 1

By Hans-Jörg Bullinger; Jürgen Ziegler | Go to book overview

Effects of the Internet marketplace on the
usability practice
Masako Itoh
HIT (Human Interface Assessment and Design) Center
NTT Advanced Technology Corporation,
12-1 Ekimae-honcho, Kawasaki-ku, Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa, 210-0007, Japan
Introduction
Traditionally, usability practice meant usability testing. Testing was almost at the end of the product development process, and the purpose of testing was to find problems in using the products for practical tasks. Though usability problems were found, there was no established route to give feedback to the development teams. Generally speaking, usability was not considered as a quality of the product but as a time and cost consuming constraint. Many companies were concerned more about increasing productivity and reducing cost than in improving usability. They strictly managed qualities such as reliability and safety but they did not consider the optimum interaction between user's goal-oriented behavior and products in real situations.Recently, the situation has changed as the electronic marketplace developed on the Internet. With the rapid increase in the number of on-line users, growing numbers of companies have set up their Web presence in order to market their products and services. These companies have become serious about usability.
1
Reasons for the change
There are several reasons why usability awareness is increasing.
1. Web sites offer "friction-free capitalism( Gates, Myhrvold, Sheridan & Rinearson, 1995)" where buyers and sellers are directly connected. It is easy for users to write and send their opinions and requirements to sellers and providers.
2. As Rao, Salam & DosSantos ( 1998) say, users and consumers on the Internet are likely to be better educated, more demanding, and have greater control of the using and purchasing process from initiation to selection. They want to enjoy the site and efficiently find information they need. If they do not experience comfortable interaction with the site, they are reluctant to access

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