Usability research

December 29, 2008

Where to find (free) research into usability?

Pick your topics ++  (convincing)

..and other chapters of the-encyclopedia-of-human-computer-interaction-2nd-ed

Google for: Research-based guidelines for <keyword>

Search spiders
ACM Digital library (access via university library, not all are free)
Search field of

IEEE HCI? See Encyclopedia of HCI (link above) for more popular academic HCI research resources

CiteSeer(x)(Journals, periodicals, articles (…), (university) research groups, conference papers, special interest groups SIGCHI, theses, blog posts)


Research tools

How to organise your (online) research.

HCI Research bodies (Uni WI) (few broad articles by microsoft)


  • use it to gain buy-in power
  • beware of the applicability of usability research (Dutch)
  • Applicability of the research source (before+after reading sth):
  • – what can you do with the information? can you study/learn, derive or directly apply the research outcomes?
  • – is it relevant? User performance (user speed, efficiency and ergonomics) goal versus business conversions goal. Though related, a design that focussses on the most efficient may seem more ‘usable’ (less prone to error, faster completion, faster to learn) but might not necessarily be the most desirable design at first sight.
  • Context, audience and cultural differences

Will it make a difference? Asking the users (surveys) gives a skewed reality. Statistics can be damn lies. Usability research on prototypes gives you more confidence. But for the real truth, only getting it live (lean) can tell. Then do A/B, usability, heatmap and satisfaction testing – whatever data you need to get the job done.


The value and credibility of research

(coming up)

Cooper: break with convention only if…

A fruit juice may be healthy and good for you, but is it also ‘lekker’?

Research should adhere to these criteria:


Compared to a gut feeling, research is often a better representation of the truth. However, a research by found that using gut feel by an experienced usability practicioner about a given research question performed just as effective as full-on research.


It holds true for whatever you’re working on or trying to find out.


You can use CiteSeer, a cross-reference tool, to check how many times a certain publication has been cited by other publications. There are also ways/tools to find out how much a person is cited (userati) or paper referenced from blogs or the web.


The method of research, calculations and measurements involved are correct. There is adequete confirmation from a trusted source (of experts).

There are sufficient authors referencing or linking to the source, and few critiquing it.


Goal; Types of sites with research sources which are suitable for this; Actually URLs to sites to ‘raadplegen’ for reference


Best practice in business ;  Pattern sites  ;  Forrester

Improve Customer Support ; E-commerce/CRM software vendors ; (see ‘Research resources’), RightNow

…. ;  ….. ;…..