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This chapter is from the book

What's the Primary Target of UCD?

Customer delight is the primary target of UCD. A key aspect of this delight involves usability. Usability is typically defined as

The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve speci-fied goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use (ISO, 1999).

Users determine the usability within a typical context of use of the product. In other words, the extent to which a product has the characteristic of usability is determined by the effectiveness of the product in allowing users to achieve their goals, the efficiency in carrying out their tasks, and the satisfaction the user experiences in interacting with the product. In our approach, usability is further broken down into subcomponents such as ease of acquisition, ease of installation, ease of learning, ease of use, ease of getting help, ease of getting support, and ease of removing the product.

To the user, usability is simply the quality of interaction with a product or system. In fact, most attributes of products such as capability, performance, reliability, installation, maintenance, documentation, and service are all correlated with usability. That is, when customers are asked in surveys to rate their satisfaction with any of these attributes, their ratings are highly influ-enced by their satisfaction with the product's usability.


  • Business professionals identify usability as an important attribute of e-business applications.

  • Surveys can be used to tap into the wants, needs, and opinions of the target audience.

  • Automated survey tools can facilitate survey creation, administration, and data analysis.

To determine the relative importance of usability in the new and emerging area of e-business, the IBM Corporate UCD Team ran a study that yielded 142 responses from various business professionals. Respondents were asked to rate and rank various attributes of e-business applications. An e-business application was defined as follows:

e-business applications improve business processes using Internet technologies. Examples of e-business applications include: communicating with other people via e-mail or groupware, Web site s where you can buy, sell, or complete other transactions, and connecting to corporate applications via the Web.

The study was conducted using the UCD Workbench tools, which will be described in Chapter 5. UCDSurvey was used to create a survey, post it to the Web, get responses, and then summarize the data. Figure 2.2 shows the survey.

Figure 2.2Figure 2.2 A user survey to determine the importance of usability in e-business. (Courtesy of IBM.)

The most interesting results of the survey concerned the importance of rankings. Respondents were asked to select the three most important e-business attributes. As shown in Figure 2.3, the item usability ranked 3 out of 10, both in terms of top priority and the weighted average of the top three priorities. The numbers in the table represent the number selecting each attribute. The weighted total was calculated as follows:


Point Assignment

First priority

1.0 point

Second priority

.66 points

Third priority

.33 points

Figure 2.3Figure 2.3 Importance ranking for an e-business survey. (Courtesy of IBM.)

These results show that security and reliability are the most important attributes to address on the Internet. However, it is critically important that usability came in third, right behind these major factors. In traditional product development, usability is often the most important attribute. In the e-business world, however, it is also

important, but security and reliability are added concerns that are sometimes seen as eing more pressing.

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