Social negotiations in web usability engineering

Martin, Ian; Kear, Karen; Simpkins, Neil and Busvine, John (2013). Social negotiations in web usability engineering. In: Garcia-Ruiz, Miguel A. ed. Cases on Usability Engineering: Design and Development of Digital Products. IGI Global, pp. 26–56.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-4666-4046-7.ch002

Abstract

This study of a website development project for a university athletic club illustrates how negotiations between designers and users play a fundamental role in defining website usability. Whilst usability can be ‘objectively’ measured using formal scales (number of clicks required, user effort or error rate to achieve an aim etc.), it may also be subjectively defined as the extent to which a website serves its intended audience. Usability engineering is therefore a social process involving interactions between users and designers that determine what is appropriate for a given context. Our case demonstrates the value of a ‘heterogeneous’ approach to website usability that involves engineering this context by negotiating the social alongside the technical. A strong stepwise website methodology that promotes early and continual user engagement – including sign-off of staged prototypes – is seen to be an important facilitating structure that carries these social negotiations forward through the web usability engineering lifecycle to successful project conclusion.

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