article (Sun Nov 18 2012)

Usability Evaluation Shall and Will Evolve

  • #designthinking
  • #usability
  • #cognitivescience

This week, I read a wonderful, paper on usability. "Usability Evaluation Considered Harmful (Some of the Time)" by Saul Greenberg and Bill Buxton "Wow". That was the first word that came to my mind after reading this paper. Beautifully written, the authors tried to balance the two perspectives on usability quite well, justifying the pros and cons of both.It is not surprising that the author talks about the supression of innovation when following the norms set by usability guidelines. I believe, almost each of us have had this feeling even during the intial lessons of this class. And the same is not only true about a usability guidelines. In fact, in every situation, wherever rules and guidelines are involved, there are a lot of people who feel that these rules and guidelines are restricting their creative freedom.And that is why, every once in a while, there is someone who breaks the rules, creating someting new.... but then... what happens? New rules are formed. There are new standards, new guidelines.The way I see it, usability evaluation, just like any other process has to be treated as a subject that needs to be evolved. If there are 10 rules, it should be ok for a system to break 2 or 3 of those rules. This would let people make misakes. Only when mistakes were made, did we have life changing drugs like penicillin, and lovely things like chcolate chip cookies, potato chips many other things that we just take for granted in our everyday life, and assume that they were a result of scientific research[Reference]. Just like any other invention, usability has to diversify. It has to cater to different products in different ways. And although the fundamentals would always remain the same .i.e. to make systems more intuitive to human beings, usability techniques themselves need to be adaptive as our culture continues to grow and evolve over time.