User action framework: a reliable foundation for usability engineering support tools

  • Andre T
  • Rex Hartson H
  • Belz S
 et al. 
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Although various methods exist for performing usability evaluation, they lack a systematic framework for guiding and structuring the assessment and reporting activities. Consequently, analysis and reporting of usability data are ad hoc and do not live up to their potential in cost effectiveness, and usability engineering support tools are not well integrated. We developed the User Action Framework, a structured knowledge base of usability concepts and issues, as a framework on which to build a broad suite of usability engineering support tools. The User Action Framework helps to guide the development of each tool and to integrate the set of tools in the practitioner's working environment. An important characteristic of the User Action Framework is its own reliability in term of consistent use by practitioners. Consistent understanding and reporting of the underlying causes of usability problems are requirements for cost-effective analysis and redesign. Thus, high reliability in terms of agreement by users on what the User Action Framework means and how it is used is essential for its role as a common foundation for the tools. Here we describe how we achieved high reliability in the User Action Framework, and we support the claim with strongly positive results of a summative reliability study conducted to measure agreement among 10 usability experts in classifying 15 different usability problems. Reliability data from the User Action Framework are also compared to data collected from nine of the same usability experts using a classic heuristic evaluation technique.

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  • Terence S. Andre

  • H. Rex Hartson

  • Steven M. Belz

  • Faith A. McCreary

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