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Chapter 39. Unusable You > Job Description

Job Description

In order to have usable software, the user interface has to be somebody's job. Without responsibility and accountability, better user interfaces don't happen. I've been saying this for years. Now I'm beginning to think that usability has to be everyone's job, that everyone on the development team has to be focused on end-product usability and take it seriously from first brainstorm to final box.

One way to develop this focus is through systematic usability inspections (Constantine 1994b). These resemble traditional design and code walkthroughs, but focus on the user interface and usability issues to identify usability defects. This gets developers thinking about users and issues of software usability. A single inspection just before freezing a final release is not enough. Developers and interface specialists should inspect work flow models, early paper prototypes, initial designs, and working prototypes, as well as alpha and beta versions of the software. With each successive inspection, usability improves, as Jacob Nielsen has shown (Nielsen 1993). With each inspection, developers also learn a little more about good user interface design and the defects to avoid.


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