Usability engineering is an approach to product development that is based on customer
data and feedback and direct observation and interactions with customers to provide
data than self-reporting techniques. Usability engineering begins in the conceptual
phase with field studies and contextual inquiries to understand the functionality and
design requirements of the product.
Too many products are difficult to learn, require manuals, or are simply counter-intuitive.
These problems increase support and maintenance costs, decrease sales, productivity, and
Usability engineering is iterative design and evaluation to provide customer feedback
on the usefulness and usability of a product's functionality and design throughout
the development cycle. This results in products that are developed to meet the customers'
Usability is comprised of six general attributes:
Usability Engineering is an approach to computer related design that incorporates many
features of other design processes. Although it does not maintain the consistent involvement
of users of the software or hardware that is being developed, it still ensures that the
user will have some say in the process. Often this is accomplished by having many steps
in the process that include evaluations, field studies, and whole phases that
deal with only design and prototyping. It is arguably more cost effective since there is less
involvement between the implementers and the users of the systems. Yet Usability Engineering
still has many tools for ensuring that the developers know their customers. Through
prototyping and observation, this objective is met.
Ultimately, Usability Engineering is a more cost-effective approach to engineering when
compared to Participatory Design. It incorporates many of the objectives set forth in
Participatory Design including designing for the user and focusing design on what the
user needs. Most companies find the Usability Engineering approach more attractive because
of the lower costs and quicker development time. There are distinct phases where users
are asked for feedback. In the other phases, developers may work on the specifications outlined
from the feedback. Compared to Participatory Design, this approach may risk implementing
too much in a phase and may not as readily produce a product that is what the