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Anti - Usability Literature for a dissertation

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#1 racheyc


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Posted 22 February 2006 - 11:44 AM


I am in my last year of my degree course studying Business Information Systems. I am writing a dissertation on the importance of website usability and proving that a website can be usable as well as "pretty". However, I am having trouble finding some literature regarding those who are opposed to the use of usability (apart from usabilitymustdie.com). Does any body have any ideas? They would be greatly appreciated.

Kind regards


#2 rmccarley


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Posted 22 February 2006 - 01:37 PM

I don't know of any specific literature but there are reasons to ignore usability issues:

- Takes too long
- Isn't understood very well
- Added expense for labor in both time and finding someone qualified
- Not the target market
- Doesn't understand the target market
- Unclear standards
- Ignorance
- Apathy
- "Look good"

The reality is most businesses have no idea how usable their sites are, especially when it comes to support for the disabled. The web design/development community has done a pretty lousy job pushing the issue because a lot of usability issues are tasky instead of creative. And there is a misconception that disabled people don't use the internet.

Speaking in broad terms of usability testing the site itself and how it performs for a real audience costs money, sometimes as much as building the site itself. It just isn't worth the expense.

#3 kensplace


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Posted 22 February 2006 - 01:58 PM

Lets take one real life example.

I try to make my site as usable as possible but I would love to make it "more accessible", but problems arise when I do so, of the top of my head, heres a couple..

I want to test it with screen readers

Screen readers cost a LOT of money, and most if not all of the main commercial ones that I know of do not have any way for a developer/tester to get a free test copy to ensure compliance and compatibility with their product.

In the electronics industry for example, I can get free samples of many products, to test them with my designs or products - to ensure suitablility and compatibility. They dont charge because it benefits them in the long run. People get the free samples, and know for sure if they are suitable before placing a large order, or selling a design that uses the items.

There is no way at all I could afford to purchase the screen readers in order to test my site with them, to see what works and what doesnt work.. If I was a large corporation then yes, but most people are not large corporations...

To me, that makes me think the manufacturers of screen readers etc who fall in that boat are kindof opposed to usability, they could easily let people have a "domain specific" version, that only allows testing on the domain owned by the site doing the testing. It would benefit everyone, and improve usability on many sites.

I want to get my site properly audited by say, for example the RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind)

Again, a service that COSTS.
If it didnt cost, many more people would use it, and many more sites would be more usable for the RNIB target audience,

I want feedback from people affected by disablility issues or involved in that area, to improve the site.

Despite having a clear statement to that effect on site, I have not had one bit of feedback in that area, not one. Either the site is perfect, or people with disabilities are not using it, or cant use it....

#4 cre8pc


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Posted 22 February 2006 - 02:45 PM

Free accessibility feedback - Guidelines for Accessible and Usable Web Sites: Observing Users Who Work With Screen Readers

Web accessibility myths

Professional usability testing and return on investment as it applies to user interface design for web-based products and services

Recording Screen Activity During Usability Testing

There are simulators and companies who will do it for a fee. Other than that, there are so many basics that can be done to cover one's bases that also meet organic SEO needs.

Not needing usability? I agree. I don't get hired until somebody realizes something is broken or conversions are hideous. Only about 10% of my business is from those who want to start out with a user centered web site or application tested before launch. Even in software QA, user interface testing is often done AFTER the customer gets the product, not before. I've been in situations where the marketing department is selling software before it is even built, let alone tested or used by humans. (The reason, we are told, is because testing "takes too long", as pointed out earlier.)

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