Don’t you just hate it when it isn’t possible to try out certain (not cheap) things before you buy them and take them home, only to discover that they are unusable once you get there? Cell phones for instance. You seldom see any usability reviews of them, yet usability (as far as I am concerned anyway) is one of my prime reasons for liking or disliking a phone. I have long suffered with hi-fi’s, and of course, we all know that video recorders are the worst.
I’m a long-term user of PDAs, and consequently I’ve been through several models in the search for usability. I am now moderately happy; my previous one was slightly more usable than my current one, but the larger screen of this one was a determining factor in changing. It is now, however, beginning to show its age, and so I am on the lookout for something to replace it. Frankly, I have yet to find anything that matches its usability, and so I keep looking.
When I discover that a new device I have bought has usability flaws, my initial reaction is often “Didn’t they even test this thing?” But I guess that the answer may well be “They never had the chance.” Product timescales may well mean that by the time the hardware is in their hands, it is too late to make major changes in the current product iteration. And if the product fails in the marketplace (because of bad usability for instance), they will never have the chance at another iteration.
This issue features an article on how a group tackled this problem, and how it led them to discover usability errors earlier in the cycle. Let’s hope it gets noticed…
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