Mapping usability: A critical research analysis of trends in software usability research, theory, and practice
- School: Purdue University (0183)
- Degree: Ph.D.
- Date: 2009 pp: 216
- Advisor: Sullivan, Patricia
- Subjects: Information Technology (0489), Technical Communication (0643), Computer Science (0984)
- ProQuest Document Number: 366672854
- ISBN: 9781109769166
- UMI Number: 3403408
The impetus for this project stemmed from a curiosity about two particular areas in the history of usability research. For one, I began research for this project with a desire to learn about patterns in the theory, practice, attitude, and perception about usability work, both in academic contexts and in corporate contexts, with a focus on the rhetorical demands and considerations of each unique usability situation. And secondly, I aimed to position the analysis of each sphere in such a way that the meta -analysis would help bridge the gap separating the two contexts and help foster better communication and collaboration between them.^ This project reports on data gathered from thirty-six studies published between 1980 through 2008 to understand trends in academic usability research. It also presents information gathered through primary and secondary research into IBM’s usability practices. Using this information, this project assesses trends in usability theory and practice, including the purpose(s) for conducting usability, perceptions of and philosophies about usability, types and numbers of participants, backgrounds of the usability researchers, usability methods and methodologies, time of testing, data collected, physical site of testing, description of the context surrounding the usability testing situation, challenges faced, and avenues identified for future work.^ Next, the project interrogates the rhetorical situation that surrounds the development of these studies as well as the production of this paper. It explores relationships between the trends discussed, noting particularly the areas where academic and corporate usability research overlap and diverge, and it discusses the impact of these relationships on the history and direction of usability studies as a field. This section draws heavily from Sullivan and Porter’s post-critical theory and also from postmodern theory. Finally, this paper offers final predictions about the future of usability research, and it identifies areas that warrant further work.