Usability in Practice: The Human Face Of Software

“In the past, user experience was not a high priority for most development projects, but that's changed. Today, end users have a lot of experience with the Web and with software. They want design that's easy to learn and use and that fits their workflow. This column will show you how to deliver such designs.

“User experience design is comprised of a number of subfields. Most UX designers have skills in all the core areas, but some are more specialized. The key areas are interaction design (IxD), information architecture (IA), user research, visual design, and usability testing.

“Usability testing ideally involves the actual user audience to validate early and often (iteratively) in order to ensure that the software being created has the fewest possible usability bugs. Practically speaking, there is a lot of synergy with Agile. Both are essentially iterative. Both require regular collaboration with the people (ideally, the actual users) for whom the software is being built.

“In future installments of this column, we'll be exploring more concrete examples for incorporating the knowledge, techniques, and tools of User-centered design (UCD) into your software development practice.

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