Usability planning provides an important means of managing
individual usability activities as well as the overall role
played by usability input within a software engineering programme.
It defines the scope of usability work required to produce
a user- interface design that is efficient, effective and
satisfying in use.
Usability planning involves defining and managing user-centred
design activities that will take place during the development
of a product. A usability plan report is created, which details
the scope of selected usability activities and defines actions
and time-scales required to implement them. Usability planning
should be carried out for all development projects, but in
particular development projects purporting a high degree of
Cost benefit analyses of user-centred design activities may
be carried out and its results summarised in the first part
of the usability plan. Wherever an investment in user-centred
design activities is made during development, one or more
tasks will be identified. A task manager is appointed for
each task, an appropriate activity is selected and a schedule
specified. The usability plan is a living document, and undergoes
regular reviews as the project progresses.
- Ensures that usability work is co-ordinated and not performed
in a piecemeal fashion.
- Provides clear visibility of what usability work is going
on and what its overall aims are.
- Enables priorities to be assessed, and facilitates the
efficient allocation of resources.
However, it is important to remember that usability plans
may not be stable because of continually changing project
plans. Also, usability plans are constrained by the need to
schedule the delivery of results in sufficient time for them
to be acted upon by designers and implementers.
As a part of the usability planning exercise a cost-benefit
analysis may be required to indicate that it is worth
making an investment in further user-centred design activities.
Also note that the output from a context
analysis meeting can provide a valuable input to any usability
Become familiar with the features for which cost benefit
analysis has indicated it is worthwhile making a user-centred
All relevant parties should be consulted when constructing
a usability plan and their backing should be secured. The
plan will need to be sufficiently flexible to accommodate
changing development schedules.
Hold a meeting with the key project personnel who have an
interest in the usability of the product. For each selected
feature or aspect of the system discuss what sort of usability
targets could be set, the work that needs to be done to achieve
those targets, and the most appropriate methods to assess
the developing system. Following this create the usability
plan. For each selected feature specify a programme of work
which will deliver the desired target. If a detailed target
has yet to be defined, create a task to do so. A person who
is responsible for carrying out the usability work should
be identified along with the resources that will be required,
and a schedule with milestones. Get agreement to each part
of the plan with the relevant people.
A usability plan report is created in which details of the
scope of the intended usability activities It defines the
actions and timescales required to implement them. Implement
the plan as specified and update where necessary.
- ISO 13407 Human centred design
processes for interactive systems
The information required for usability planning may also
be collected as part of a more comprehensive stakeholder
Usability Engineering Lifecycle: A Practitioner's Handbook
for User Interface Design. Deborah J. Mayhew. Morgan Kaufmann