London software testing news UK

Usability and untangling technology

Posted in Software testing by testing in London on July 8, 2007

From NY Times

There can be a huge disconnect between the people who make a product and the people who use it. The creator of a Web site may assume too much knowledge on the part of users, leading to confusion. Software designers may not anticipate user behaviour that can unintentionally destroy an entire database. Manufacturers can make equipment that inadvertently increases the likelihood of repetitive stress injuries.

Enter the usability professional, whose work has recently developed into a solid career track, driven mostly by advancements in technology. Jobs in the usability industry are varied, as are the backgrounds of the people who hold them. The work can involve testing products in a laboratory, watching people use products in the field or developing testing methods.

Dr. Redish, whose background is in linguistics, is a usability consultant specializing in Web sites and software interfaces. In 1979, she founded the Document Design Center for the American Institutes for Research to examine how the government could make its documents more understandable. By 1985, she had established an independent usability laboratory and was testing software interfaces and documentation for companies like I.B.M. and Sony.

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