Usability Cost-Benefit Analysis: How Usability Became a Curse Word?

  • Mikko Rajanen
  • Netta Iivari
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 4663)


Usability is an important quality characteristic of software (SW) products and systems. Usability cost-benefit analysis models outline the potential benefits and costs of usability. This paper contrasts usability cost-benefit analysis literature with an empirical case in industrial setting, in which usability cost-benefit considerations (along with other usability activities) resulted in usability becoming a curse word. An interpretive case study was carried out in a SW development organization. Empirical analysis reveals that clearly divergent meanings and motives were attached to usability and its cost-benefit analysis in the organization. Increased sales and reduced development costs were strongly emphasized as benefits of better usability. However, very surprising meanings were attached to them both. Furthermore, the increased development costs associated with better usability were the main failure factor of the whole usability improvement effort. Implications both for theory and practice are discussed.


Usability Activity Field Note Usability Cost Development Cost Good Usability 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mikko Rajanen
    • 1
  • Netta Iivari
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Information Processing Science, University of Oulu, P.O. BOX 3000, 90014 OuluFinland

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