Usability Engineering Approach to Software Quality

Article

Scerbo, Mark W.   (1991, ASQC)   Old Dominion University, Department of Psychology, Norfolk, VA

Annual Quality Congress, Milwaukee WI    Vol. 45    No. 0
QICID: 9732    May 1991    pp. 726-733
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Article Abstract

This paper introduces a method called usability engineering, which permits organizations to objectively measure and establish goals for software usability. It explores the difference between principles of engineering and psychology, and it explains the consequences of the trend to eliminate end users from the development process.

Usability engineering techniques provide engineers and psychologists with common terminology and establish user performance specifications. J.D. Gould (1985) and colleagues at IBM defined four principles for building a usable system: (1) early focus on users, (b) early and continual user testing, (3) integrated design, and (4) iterative design. Whiteside, Bennett, and Holtzblatt (1988) identified units called usability attributes; for each attribute, a measuring concept and measuring method are identified, and four criteria are established.An embellished pareto diagram is a useful tool for analyzing the data and identifying potential solutions. Pareto diagrams generated for usability analysis often have more categories than those developed for traditional quality improvement exercises. When the desired levels for an attribute are achieved, efforts should be directed toward the attributes that fail to meet the criteria. Determine whether there is another way for users to perform the function, what can be added to improve performance, and what can be eliminated to facilitate performance. There may be many potential solutions.

Keywords

Attributes control charts,Computers,Software,Quality improvement (QI),Engineering


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