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Institutionalization of Usability: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Institutionalization of Usability: A Step-by-Step Guide


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  • Copyright 2004
  • Dimensions: 7" x 9-1/4"
  • Pages: 304
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-321-17934-X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-321-17934-0

"Some argue the big advances in our impact on design and usability will come from better methods. Some argue they will come from earlier involvement in the development process. The biggest impact, however, will come as more and more companies realize the benefits of user-centered design and embrace it. Eric offers a practical road map to get there."—Arnie Lund, Director of Design and Usability, Microsoft Corporation

"This book is a great how-to manual for people who want to bring the benefits of improved usability to their companies. It's thorough yet still accessible for the smart businessperson. I've been working with user-centered design for almost 20 years and I found myself circling tips and tricks."—Harley Manning, Research Director, Forrester Research

"This book should be required reading for all executive champions of change. It does an excellent job in laying the foundation for incorporating usability engineering concepts and best practices into corporations. Business success in the new economy will greatly depend on instituting the changes in design methods and thinking that are so clearly and simply put forth in this very practical and useful book."—Ed Israelski, Program Manager—Human Factors, Abbott Laboratories

"For those of us who have evangelized usability for so many years, we finally have a book that offers meaningful insights that can only come from years of practical experience in the real world. Here is a wonderful guide for all who wish to make usability a 'way of life' for their companies."—Felica Selenko, Principal Technical Staff Member, AT&T

"Dr. Schaffer's mantra is that the main differentiator for companies of the future will be the ability to build practical, useful, usable, and satisfying applications and sites. This is a book that provides the road map necessary to allow your organization to achieve these goals." —Colin Hynes, Director of Site Usability, Staples, Inc.

"Eric's methodology helped RBC Royal Bank's online banking complete a new user interface, and provided a blueprint for making usable designs a routine part of our development process. The site became successful in making money, saving money, and increasing customer satisfaction—evidencing the effectiveness of his approach."—Carolyn Burke, Senior Manager, e-Commerce and Payments Strategy, RBC Royal Bank of Canada

"If you're tasked with bringing usability to a large organization, this book is for you (and your boss). Informed by years of case studies and consulting experience, Eric provides the long view, clearly describing what to expect, what to avoid, and how to succeed in establishing user-centered principles at your company."—Pat Malecek, User Experience Manager, AVP, CUA, A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc.

"Usability issues are a key challenge for user-interface development of increasingly complex products and services. This book provides much-needed insights to help managers achieve their key objectives and to develop more successful solutions."—Aaron Marcus, President, Aaron Marcus and Associates

At one time, computer hardware was the key differentiator in information technology—what gave an organization its competitive edge. Then, as hardware prices fell, software took center stage. Today, software has become a broadly shared commodity, and a new differentiator has emerged—usability. Applications, including Web sites, are usable if they are practical, useful, easy to work with, and satisfying. Usability is now the factor likeliest to give an organization a distinct advantage.

Institutionalization of Usability shows how to make user-centered design and development a routine practice within an enterprise. Other excellent books explain precisely how to make software usable; this book builds on that foundation, and focuses instead on how to get usability recognized and incorporated into an organization's values and culture. Based on author Eric Schaffer's extensive experience, the book provides a solid methodology for institutionalizing usability, guiding readers step by step with practical advice on topics like organizational change, milestones, toolsets, infrastructure, and staffing requirements needed to achieve fully mature usability engineering.

Learn how to:

  • Educate your organization about the importance of usability
  • Hire and coordinate usability staff and consultants
  • Plan the standards, design, and implementation phases
  • Retrofit a method that has added user-centered activities
  • Recruit participants for usability interviews and testing
  • Select the right staff and project to showcase—by timeline, user impact, and visibility
  • Evangelize, train and mentor staff, and support the community

Whether you are an executive leading the institutionalization process, a manager supporting the transition, or an engineer working on usability issues, Institutionalization of Usability will help you to build usability into your software practices.


Related Article

Developing Accessible User Interfaces

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Software Usability Tools, Templates, and Testing Facilities

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Table of Contents


The Organization of This Book.

The Audience for This Book.


1. The Deep Changes.

Changing the Feature Mindset.

Changing the Technology Mindset.

Changing Management Values.

Sidebar: Advice for Those Considering an Investment in Usability by Harley Manning, Forrester Research.

Changing the Process for Interface Design.

Sidebar: Usability within Government by Janice Nall, National Cancer Institute.

The Step-by-Step Process for Institutionalizing Usability.

The Startup Phase.

The Setup Phase.

The Organization Phase.

The Long-Term Operations Phase.


2. Wake-up Calls and Common Reactions.

The Value of Usability.

Reducing Design Cycles.

Avoiding Building Unnecessary Functions.

Expediting Decision Making.

Increasing Sales.

Avoiding “Reinventing the Wheel”.

Avoiding Disasters.

Sidebar: Usability within the Medical Industry by Ed Israelski, Abbott Laboratories.

Types of Wake-up Calls.

Train Wrecks.

Executive Insights.

New Staff.

Education and Training.

Expert Reviews.

Sidebar: Experiencing the Wake-up Call and Beginning aUsability Process by Pat Malecek, A. G. Edwards & Sons, Inc..

Usability Testing.

New Technologies.

Common Responses to Wake-up Calls.

Relying on Good Intentions.

Sidebar: Being an Advocate for the Process by Dana Griffith, American Electric Power.

Relying on Testing.

Relying on Training.

Relying on Repair Jobs.

Relying on Projects by Ad Agencies.

Hiring Usability Consultants.

Hiring New Usability Staff.

Sidebar: Seeing the Real Numbers Creates a Call to Action Too by Harley Manning, Forrester Research.

3. Executive Champion.

The Role of the Executive Champion.

Sidebar: Why Support from Senior Management Is Crucial by Harley Manning, Forrester Research.

Deciding to Innovate.

Making the Change.

Educating the Executives.

Keeping It Moving Long Term.

Sidebar: Getting Middle Management on Board with Usability by Janice Nall, National Cancer Institute.

Becoming a CXO.

4. Selecting a Usability Consultant.


Completeness of Solution.

Domain Expertise.


Tools and Templates.

Size and Stability.

Corporate Cultural Match.


Organizational Structure.

Change Management Ability.

Quality Control and Feedback.

Ongoing Training for the Consultancy's Staff.


5: Strategy.

What to Consider When Developing the Strategic Plan.

A Proactive Organization.

Coordinating Internal Staff and Consultants.

Sidebar: Consultant and Internal Group Mix by Todd Gross, Medtronic MiniMed.

The Importance of Sequence.

Reacting to Past Events.

Targets of Opportunity.

Slower Can Be Better.

Phasing in Design Standards.

Key Groups for Support or Resistance.

Sidebar: Executive Support for Usability within AT&T by Felica Selenko, AT&T.


Methodology and Infrastructure.

The Project Path.

Levels of Investment.

6. Training.

Types of Training.

Sidebar: The Difference between Knowledge and Skills Training by Phil Goddard, Human Factors International

Knowledge Training.

Who Should Get Knowledge Training?

Skills Training.

Who Should Get Skills Training?


ATypical Training Plan.


7. Methodology.

What to Look for in a User-Centered Methodology.

Sidebar: Integrating Usability into the Development Cycle, by Janice Nall, National Cancer Institute.

An Outline of The Schaffer Method.

The Plan Evaluation and Structure Phase.

Know What the Organization Wants.

Know What the Users Want.

The Plan Standards Phase.

The Plan Design and Implementation Phase.

The Plan Evaluations Phase.

Sidebar: A. G. Edwards' Usability Process and Methodology by Pat Malecek, A. G. Edwards & Sons, Inc..

The Plan Localization Phase.

A Quick Check of Your Methodology.

The Challenges of Retrofitting a Development Life Cycle.

Using Classic Methodologies.

Retrofitting a Method That Has Added User-Centered Activities.

Retrofitting a Development Process That Has Only Usability Testing.

8. Tools, Templates, and Testing Facilities.

Introduction to Your Toolkit.

Testing Facilities.

Recording of Testing Sessions.

Modeling Tools and Software.

Data Gathering and Testing Techniques.

The Special Needs of International Testing.

Sidebar: The Bollywood Method by Apala Lahiri Chavan, Human Factors International.

Recruiting Interview and Testing Participants.

9. Interface Design Standards.

What Is an Interface Design Standard?

Screen Design Templates.

Other Contents of a Design Standard.

The Scope of Design Standards.

The Value of Design Standards.

The Process and Cost of Developing Standards.

Disseminating, Supporting, and Enforcing Standards.

10. Showcase Projects.

The Value of a Showcase Project.

Sidebar: Gaining Acceptance for the Usability Team by Arnie Lund, Microsoft.

Selecting the Right Staff and Project.

The Right Staff.

The Right Project.



11. Organizational Structure.

Organizational Structures for Usability Teams.

Decentralized Structure.

Matrix Structure.

Centralized Structure.

Sidebar: Being on Projects by Colin Hynes, Staples.

Placement of a Central Team in the Overall Organization.

Placement within Quality Assurance.

Placement within IT.

Placement within Marketing.

Placement under a CXO.

Sidebar: An Executive Must Champion Usability by Harley Manning, Forrester Research.

Escalation of Problems.

Graphic Artists, Writers, and Other Usability-Oriented Staff.

12. Staffing.

The Chief User Experience Executive.

The Central Usability Organization Manager.

The Central Usability Organization Staff.

The Internal Consultant.

The Documenter.

The Specialist.

The Researcher.

The Usability Manager and Practitioners.

The Creative Director and the Graphic Designer.

Outside Consultants.

Sidebar: The Social Security Administration's Usability Team by Sean Wheeler, The Social Security Administration.

What to Look for When Hiring.

Usability Skills for a General Practitioner.



Usability Background That Includes Design.

Specialist vs. Generalist.

Real Skills and Knowledge.

Interpersonal Skills and Level of Expertise.


An Offshore Model.

The Challenges and Success Factors of Offshore Staffing.

The Limits of Offshore Usability.

13. Projects.

Doing It Right.

Managing by Project Importance.

Who Will Do the Usability Work?

Different Strategies for Practitioner Involvement.

Working Smart.

Efficient Project Planning.

Sidebar: Organizational Support for Usability by Dana Griffith, American Electric Power.

Estimating Usability Work.


14. Activities of the Established Usability Group.

Maintaining Respect and Negotiating Effectively.

Sidebar: The Value of a Research-Based Approach to Usability by Janice Nall, National Cancer Institute.

Sidebar: Roadblocks in the Path to Good Usability-The IT Department by Harley Manning, Forrester Research.

Maintaining Momentum.


Sidebar: The Role of the Central Usability Team by Arnie Lund, Microsoft.



Supporting Standards.

Sidebar: Advocating Usability through a Strong Sense of Community by Felica Selenko, AT&T.

Supporting the Community.

Performing Usability Testing.

Focusing on Metrics.

Having Responsibility.

Reporting to Executives.

Sidebar: My Nine Principles to Keep Institutionalization Motivated by Colin Hynes, Staples.

15. The Future.

Symptoms of Leaping the Chasm.

Sidebar: Usability Trends by Harley Manning, Forrester Research.


Sidebar: The Future of Usability within a Government Agency by Sean Wheeler, The Social Security Administration.

Your Organization's Maturity.

Level 0: Clueless.

Level 1: Piecemeal Usability.

Level 2: Managed Usability.

Level 3: Infrastructure.

Level 4: Staffing.

Level 5: Routine Usability.

Sidebar: A Vision of the Future of Usability by Aaron Marcus, Aaron Marcus and Associates.

New Technologies.



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