Usability Engineering Methodologies Research

Usability Engineering (UE) results from the intersection of software engineering (SE) with human-computer interaction (HCI).

Usability Engineering Methodologies provide developers with methods and techniques for integrating user-centered development throughout the development life cycle of traditional software engineering.

USER Lab recognizes the importance of integrating HCI research and methods (including user centered development) within the SE frameworks that control real world development projects.

USER Lab is involved with the development of the Putting Usability First methodology.

This page includes information on:

The UEM project team includes:

Some major UEM insights from our team

Usability Engineering, like all forms of engineering, needs to be based on a solid foundation of requirements.Usability Engineering needs to take into account the different usability requirements of different groups of users, different tasks, different content chunks, and different existing tools. The inter-connectedness of these elements is illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Inputs into the Development of a successful computer application


Usability Engineering, like all forms of engineering, involves applying specialized processes throughout a systems development life cycle. Usability engineering needs to be highly iterative, as illustrated in Figure 2.

Figure 2 Iteration within and between usability engineering life cycle stages


The major Usability Engineering processes can be categorized based on the involvement of users and systems in the method, as Illustrated in Figure3.

User-based Methods
(with direct user involvement)
Developer-based Methods
(without direct user involvement)


Directly Involving a System

focusing on User-System Interactions

  • Prototyping
  • User testing
  • Observing users
  • Measuring performance

focusing on Developer-System Interactions

  • Expert evaluations
  • Certifications
  • Automated evaluations
Other Usability Methods

focusing on User-Developer Interactions

  • Interviews
  • Questionnaires
  • Collaborative methods

focusing on Developer-Documentation Interactions

  • Verification
  • Document examination
  • Model-based evaluation

Figure 3 Dimensions of major usability methods

Select publications by UEM members include:

F. Huang, J. Titus, A. Wolinski, K. Schneider, and J.A. Carter, 2008, XML-Based Tools For Creating, Mapping, and Transforming Usability Engineering Requirements, to appear in A. Seffah, J. Vanderdonckt, and M. Desmarais, Human-Centered Software Engineering: Architectures and Models-Driven Integration, Klewer/Springer.

J. Carter, J. Liu, K. Schneider, D. Fourney, 2005, Transforming User Requirements into Software Specifications, to appear in A. Seffath, J. Guliksen, and M.D. Desmarais, ed., Human-Centered Software Engineering: integrating Usability in the Development Process, Klewer/Springer.

J. Carter, 2002, A framework for the development of multimedia systems for use in engineering education, Computers & Education, 39:111-128.

J. Carter, 2002, Developing e-Commerce Systems, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ

J. Carter, 1999, "Incorporating Standards and Guidelines in an Approach that Balances Usability Concerns for Developers and End Users", Interacting With Computers, 12 (1999), pp. 179-206.

J.A. Carter, 1997, "Putting usability first in the design of Web sites", Proceeding of WebNet '97, November, Toronto ON, pp. 142-148.

W. E. Hefley, E. A. Buie, G. F. Lynch, M.J. Muller, D.G. Hoecker, J. Carter, and J.T. Roth, 1994, "Integrating Human Factors With Software Engineering", Proceedings of the 1994 Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, (Nashville, TN, October 24-28, 1994), pp. 315-319.

J.A. Carter, 1992, "Managing to Succeed with Rapid Prototyping", Proceedings of the 1992 Annual Meeting of the Human Factors Society, pp. 404-408.

J.A. Carter, 1991, "Combining Task Analysis with Software Engineering in a Methodology for Designing Interactive Systems", in J. Karat, ed., Taking Design Seriously: Practical Techniques for Human-Computer Interaction Design, Academic Press, Boston, MA, pp. 209-234.

J.A. Carter and J. Hancock, 1991, "A Context for Designing Adaptations: The Multi-Oriented Structured Task Analysis (MOST) Methodology", SIGCHI Bulletin, ACM, January, Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 25-29.

J.A. Carter, 1990, "Juggling Concern for Completeness and Consistency with Concerns for Flexibility and Adaptability Using MOST", Proceedings of the 1990 Annual Meeting of the Human Factors Society, pp. 341-345.

Classes we offer relating to UEM

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