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Iterative Usability Testing as Continuous Feedback: A Control Systems Perspective

Alex Genov

Journal of Usability Studies, Issue 1, Volume 1, November 2005, pp. 18-27

Abstract

This paper argues that in the field of usability, debates about number of users, the use of statistics, etc. in the abstract are pointless and even counter-productive. We propose that the answers depend on the research questions and business objectives of each project and thus cannot be discussed in absolute terms. Sometimes usability testing is done with an implicit or explicit hypothesis in mind. At other times the purpose of testing is to guide iterative design. These two approaches call for different study designs and treatment of data. We apply control systems theory to the topic of usability to highlight and frame the value of iterative usability testing in the design lifecycle. Within this new metaphor, iterative testing is a form of feedback which is most effective and resource-efficient if done as often as practically possible with project resources and timelines in mind.

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Iterative Usability Testing as Continuous Feedback: A Control Systems Perspective