and Usability Validation
Ergolight Ltd., Haifa, Israel
Landauer ( 1995) argues that the average software program has 40 design flaws that impair employees' ability to use it. Usability validation is the process of confirming that the user is able to work with the product as designed. A common method of usability validation is to ask the user to provide feedback, either in free form or by filling in questionnaires. This method provides very low yield, since users do not report problems that they cannot repeat and because users tend to attribute unexpected product behavior to their own limitations rather than to deficiencies in the product design.
Another method of usability validation that provides higher yield is by testing. Usability testing is the process of identifying the reasons for the users' failure to accomplish tasks within reasonable time limits ( Rubin 1994). Common practices of usability testing target mainly the product learnability, namely, identifying design flaws that prevent new users from using the product at all. In order to expand the testing to target experienced users as well, one needs to test for user errors. An overview of user errors is provided by Reason ( 1990).
Automatic operation logging (also know as 'UI event tracking') is a set of techniques for recording the user actions in order to raise the product quality. Automatic operation logging is used for obtaining 'operation profiles' and for usability testing. For usability testing, it enables identification of user errors by presenting the sequence of user actions that are overlooked using regular testing practices.
Hilbert and Redmiles ( 1998) provide an overview of research and tools