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Usability in web life cycle

Users should be considered throughout the website design process. Usability should not be an afterthought. Testing and fixing a website after it has been built is inefficient and unlikely to produce good results. The best approach to take is to incorporate a model of "pervasive usability" into your design and production process.

The benefits of planning usability into your project are:

  • Increased end-user satisfaction
  • Increased end-user productivity, success, and completion
  • Reduced long-term development costs (costs incurred from fixing poorly designed products)
  • Reduced training and support costs
  • Return business to improve your competitiveness

The idea is that, no matter what you're doing, there's a user-centered way of doing it.

A Model of "Usability" in Web life cycle

1. Requirements Analysis
  • Determine the goals for the website from the perspective of the user and the business.
  • Determine the user needs and target usability requirements.
  • Evaluate existing versions of the site.
  • Perform a competitive analysis.
  • Perform user interviews and surveys.
2. Conceptual Design
  • Sketch out a site design and architecture at an abstract level.
  • Conduct a task analysis to find critical features.
3. Mockups / Protoypes
  • Rapidly create visual representations (mockups) or interactive representations (prototypes) of the site.
  • Evaluate usability through focus groups, user tests, and walkthroughs.
  • Use the evaluation results to create more mockups or improve the prototypes.
  • Repeat this process (design iteration) until the design and usability goals are met
4. Production
  • Create the final product.
  • Evaluate functionality through testing, quality assurance, usability testing, and field testing.
  • Use the evaluation results to improve the product.
  • Repeat this process (production iteration) until the business goals are met.
5. Launch and Maintenance
  • Launch the website.
  • Maintain and refine with user feedback.
  • Use the feedback to create new requirements, and begin major design improvements (system iteration).

Evaluation occurs at every stage of the process. Similar types of evaluation can occur at different stages of the design process to keep in mind the goals of the project and the users' needs. And if it comes down to a choice, reduce the scope of the project rather than the usability.

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Last modified on 27 june 2004

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