What Types of Projects Can Benefit from the Approach?
UCD can apply to the design of any projects, from toasters to nuclear power plant control rooms and on to computer systems. However, the techniques described in this book have been optimized for information technology and other computer-related products.
Although UCD can be applied to all project categories, computer technology is the area that has the greatest opportunity for improvement in usability (Landauer, 1996). The explosion of the investment in computer technology by businesses and individuals has not led to a significant increase in productivity. Landauer and others concluded that the reason is because computers are simply too difficult to use. UCD, therefore, focuses on this important area of ease of use. Within the broad category of computers, UCD is relevant to hardware, software, and services. Further, it is just as applicable to the development of mass-market so-called commercial software as it is to one-of-a-kind custom, or "bespoke," system development that is done within a company. The terms offering and product are used interchangeably throughout this book, to include all these various types of projects for which UCD is relevant.
UCD has been applied to everything from high-end mainframe computers used to run the major corporations around the world to a multimedia encyclopedia used in the home and at school. It has also been used to design industry-leading notebook, desktop, and server computers as well as application development, database, networking, and productivity software. In the area of custom development, we've used UCD to design solutions in sectors such as the aircraft, healthcare, financial, insurance, and automotive industries. Recently, a prime focus has been on Web-based or e-business applications (Vredenburg et al., 1998).