Measuring software usability

2015-07-15T11:06:24Z (GMT) by Hanan Hayat Russell Lock Ian Murray
In recent years the increasingly competitive nature of the software industry has led to greater emphasis on software quality, causing software developing organizations to shift their attention towards usability, which is recognized as one of the key characteristics of software quality. The growing importance attached to software usability has resulted in a plethora of different usability conceptualisations that have led to considerable variation in testing methods throughout industry. These organizations, however, are struggling with usability testing due to the difficulties they face in choosing appropriate usability evaluation methods. This is in part due to the diversity of these testing methods and the increasingly distinctive types of software and software development life cycles. This paper will critically explore the commonly used standardized survey-based usability evaluation methods: SUMI (Software Usability Measurement Inventory), WAMMI (Website Analysis and Measurement Inventory) and TAM (Technology Acceptance Model). Additionally, a contrasting usability evaluation method ‘Think Aloud’ will be discussed, which is a laboratory based rather than field based usability test. The paper will then outline a possible route to ensuring organisations apply the right evaluation process for their individual development context. Finally, the paper will provide recommendations for future research areas, including the formal definition of usability concepts, existing usability evaluation methods and application to common software development lifecycles.