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Making Usability Recommendations Useful and Usable

Rolf Molich, Robin Jeffries, Joseph Dumas

Journal of Usability Studies, Volume 2, Issue 4, August 2007, pp. 162-179


This paper evaluates the quality of recommendations for improving a user interface resulting from a usability evaluation. The study compares usability comments written by different authors, but describing similar usability issues. The usability comments were provided by 17 professional teams who independently evaluated the usability of the website for the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York. The study finds that only 14 of the 84 studied comments (17%) addressing six usability problems contained recommendations that were both useful and usable. Fourteen recommendations were not useful at all. Sixteen recommendations were not usable at all. Quality problems include recommendations that are vague or not actionable, and ones that may not improve the overall usability of the application. The paper suggests characteristics for "useful and usable recommendations," that is, recommendations for solving usability problems that lead to changes that efficiently improve the usability of a product.

Practitioner's Take Away

Do as you preach. Show a good example by making your usability recommendations useful and usable.

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Making Usability Recommendations Useful and Usable