Monday, June 9, 2008

Book Report: Usability Engineering by Jakob Nielsen

One of the most useful takeaways from this book is the listing for “Discount Usability Engineering.” Nielsen bases this on four techniques – User and task observation, Scenarios, Simplified thinking aloud, and Heuristic evaluation. At the last IA Summit, while listening to a lecture on usability testing, the following information came to the fore. Apple did very little “standard” user testing for their iPhone, instead relying more heavily on user observation. They looked at how the user interacted with their system. And the product they came up with is notably user-friendly. This goes back to Nielsen’s “Discount Usability Engineering.” These methods have proven successful in Apple’s case and, more importantly, where the budget is lacking, i.e. in almost every other company.

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