Hello World! – Experiencing Usability Methods without Usability Expertise

  • Elina Eriksson
  • Åsa Cajander
  • Jan Gulliksen
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 5727)


How do you do usability work when no usability expertise is available? What happens in an organization when system developers, with no previous HCI knowledge, after a 3-day course, start applying usability methods, and particularly field studies? In order to answer these questions qualitative data were gathered through participatory observations, a feed back survey, field study documentation and interviews from 47 system developers from a public authority. Our results suggest that field studies enhance the developer’s understanding of the user perspective, and provide a more holistic overview of the use situation, but that some developers were unable to interpret their observations and see solutions to the users’ problems. The field study method was very much appreciated and has now become standard operating procedure within the organization. However, although field studies may be useful, it does not replace the need for usability pro fes sion als, as their knowledge is essential for more complex observations, analysis and for keeping the focus on usability.


Field studies ethnography usability user centered systems design case study public authority sense making 


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Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elina Eriksson
    • 1
  • Åsa Cajander
    • 1
  • Jan Gulliksen
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of IT/HCIUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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