Integrating Usability Techniques in the Development Process

Integrating usability techniques in the development process it is not straightforward. Things have to be well planned so that it doesn’t cause the project to get out of budget and/or delayed. So it’s necessary to take into account the several phases of the development process and apply the techniques that best fit each phase.

So the first thing I did was divide the usability techniques into 3 types of activities:

  1. Analysis activities: the techniques of this type are related to analysis of users needs and expectations. These techniques require a strong interaction with users to better understand what they really want.
  2. Design activities: the techniques of this type are concerned with the development of user interfaces taking into account usability principles and user requirements defined by the analysis activities.
  3. Evaluation activities: the techniques of this type are concerned with the evaluation of user interfaces taking into account usability principles and user needs.

Next, considering these types of activities and software development phases, the usability activities were mapped to development phases taking into account their characteristics. The obtained result can be seen on the figure below.

Types of usability activities mapped to software development phases

Types of usability activities mapped to software development phases

Having mapped usability activities to software development phases it’s now easier to map usability techniques to the development phases. All that it’s necessary it’s group usability techniques by each defined type of activity. It’s important to notice that one usability technique doesn’t need to belong only to one type of activity. For example, prototyping, a well-known usability technique, can be useful as a design or evaluation activity.

Now the task of dividing usability activities by type can be a very exhaustive task. On my thesis I only made a sample with some of the most used usability techniques and I got the result on the figure below.

Usability techniques mapped to software development phases

Usability techniques mapped to software development phases

I must say that I find this mapping arguable as I find that mapping usability techniques to development phases also depends on the scope of the project and the users involved. This subject about user involvment in the software development process will be discussed further.

Hoped it was useful :).

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One Response

  1. uxarchitecture

    Thanks for sharing this crisp analysis. A critical question for me is the authority of the usability practitioner as perceived by the development stream. I see process as having two dimensions: 1) methodology (correctly mapping the outputs of one activity to the inputs of another) and 2) governanc (ensuring the right people have the authority and influence and signoff the deliverables of others)

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