CN11 - Usability & Product Development: An Introductory Usability Course For Management

Jon Meads, Usability Architects, Inc.

Attendees will obtain a better understanding of why usability engineering is needed – why something that seems so simple is so difficult to achieve in practice.

They will learn what the various usability engineering techniques and methods provide and how to integrate them into the development process (both standard and Agile).

Finally they will understand the strategic value of usability engineering, how to estimate ROI and how to include the usability engineering function in their organization.

Usability is deceptively simple as a concept but, as is evident by the lack of usability in many Web sites and software systems, it is hard to achieve in practice. Even companies such as Microsoft, which employs numerous usability professionals, have problems getting usability right.

All managers agree that usability is essential to the success of interactive products, systems, or web sites. But many, especially those with no formal usability training, will focus on testing when incorporating usability engineering efforts in their product development plans. While usability testing is essential, it is not the most valuable technique for improving product usability or the user experience. Achieving the full benefits of usability engineering requires that appropriate techniques and practices be properly integrated into the full product development process and into the corporate development culture.

Proper integration of usability engineering into the development process can often shorten product development time and reduce development costs while producing a better product. Overall, the ROI for usability is estimated at 10 to 100 times investment. This seminar will explain what is needed to make that come true.

This is a product development course that focuses on what to do – it is not a course on user interface guidelines or on the “how to do” usability engineering. It is targeted towards mid-level management and product managers with no formal usability training. It will describe how to integrate usability engineering into both standard and agile development processes

This course has been presented at STC 2005, CHI 2006, CHI 2007, and as a summer course for the Oregon Graduate Institute. It is revised for improvement with each presentation. Additional case studies are planned for CHI 2008.


  • Explains why usability engineering is needed;
  • Relates and integrates usability engineering to the product development lifecycle;
  • Reviews major usability engineering techniques, their value and use;
  • Explains how to justify usability engineering by ROI and strategic advantage.

Managers and project leaders responsible for developing usable products who have little or no knowledge of usability engineering techniques and methods.

A lecture presentation with mini-exercises to allow attendees to bring up issues and concerns relative to their projects. Also, additional case studies will be introduced.

Instructor background:
Jon Meads is a principal consultant with Usability Architects, Inc. and has over 40 years experience in developing interactive and usable systems.

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