Hix and Hartson: Developing User Interfaces: Chapter 1

by Carson Reynolds

The definition of usability provided by Hix and Hartson at the beginning of chapter 1 borrows from Shneiderman:

* Ease of learning
* High speed of user task performance
* Low user error rate
* Subjective user satisfaction
* User retention over time

These are less a definition so much as attributes. The authors note that “usability is related to the effectiveness and efficiency of the user interface and user’s reaction to that interface”.

A list of attributes commonly encountered in systems that are poorly usable follows.

The authors prescribe a distinction between the development of interaction and the development of interface software. This distinction is also called a division between the “behavioral and constructional domains” where behavior has to do with user and construction with interface software.

Integrated team work between domain experts, software developers, and interaction developers is suggested. The authors see development as encompassing design. A maxim concludes:

“communication is at least as important as computation”