This web site provides a guide for how to specify
and test usability requirements as part of a contractual relationship
between a supplier and acquirer.
It includes case studies of four trials carried out in Europe
by the EU-funded PRUE project.
Common Industry Format for usability test reports
A new Common Industry Format for documenting usability
results has been developed by a US-based group of companies coordinated
by NIST. (For more information see the IUSR
web site.). The format
has been approved as an American standard (ANSI/NCITS-354-2001),
and is intended to be submitted to ISO.
The EU-funded PRUE
project demonstrated the value of using the Common Industry
Format in four case studies applied to different situations: public
and private contracts for development of a web site, and acquisition
of a travel management system and travel agency software.
Serco worked with the Italian Ministry of Justice
to introduce usability requirements into in the acquisition of a
new legal information web site, and SUA worked with Ericsson to
introduce usability requirements in the procurement of an office
Loughborough University and SIEM used the CIF to
evaluate the effectiveness of an existing system to assess its acceptability
and the need for improvements as part of a contractual relationship
with a supplier. Loughborough
assessed an online shopping website, and SIEM assessed travel agency
Incorporating usability requirements in the procurement
process can reduce the risk of failure when implementing a newly
acquired system and increase ease of use and thus productivity and/or
- Lack of user performance requirements was a
fundamental reason for the expensive costs and delays incurred
when new passport issuing software developed by Siemens was installed
in the UK .
- Two studies have shown that the user success
rate in purchasing from current ecommerce web sites is in the
range of 25-60% [9,12].
Small improvements in user performance could lead to substantial
increases in revenue.
Defining requirements for user performance and
satisfaction is not difficult to do, and involves three related
activities: analysing the context of use, defining task scenarios,
and specifying testable requirements for effectiveness, efficiency
and satisfaction for each scenario. Evaluating usability requirements
needs a carefully designed usability test with at least 8 representative
users carrying out realistic tasks.