Usability evaluation

The International Standards Office (ISO) standard 9241 (ISO 1994), provides a statement that provides some explanation of what is usability: “The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a specified context of use.” This matches the aspirations of a Universal design approach to AT product and service development.

Although often associated with human Computer Interaction and service design, this term of evaluation is an umbrella term for under which a mixed methods approach may be applied. It is a user-centred approach that matches to design thinking and an evidence-based design process.

Key elements of usability evaluation include the review of:

  • Effective intuitive use
  • Enhanced performance
  • Reduction in error
  • End user satisfaction

Key methods to be used under this umbrella term that have been found to be useful in AT product and service design are:

  • Needs requirement analysis
  • Task analysis
  • Focus groups
  • Interview
  • Questionnaire
  • Paired comparison
  • Ranking or benchmarking
  • Persona

Useful links

Cohen, L., L.Mannion, and K.Morrison 2007. Research methods in education. 6th ed. London, New York: Routledge.

Creswell, J.W. and Plano-Clark, V.L., 2006. Designing and conducting mixed methods research. Sage, London.

Langford, J., McDonagh, D., 2003. Focus groups supporting effective product development. Taylor & Francis, London.

Lidwell, W., Holden, K., Butler, J., 2003. Universal principles of design: 100 ways to enhance usability, influence perception, increase appeal, make better design decisions, and teach through design, Rockport, Gloucester.

Martin, B., Hanington, B., 2012. Universal methods of design: 100 ways to research complex problems, develop innovative ideas, and design effective solutions, Rockport, Beverly.

Poulson D, Ashby M and Richardson SJ (eds.) (1996) USERfit. A practical handbook on user centred design for assistive technology. HUSAT Research Institute for the European Commission. Available from: ( Accessed: [23/09/2015]

Torrens, GE (2011) Universal Design: empathy and affinity. In Karwowski, W, Soares, M, M, Stanton, A, N, Eds, (ed) Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics in Consumer Products, CRC Press, pp.233-248 Available at: (, Accessed: [23/09/015]

Torrens, GE and Black, K (2011) Equipment design in inclusive physical activity and disability sport. In Riobas, AC, Stamatakis, E, Black, K (ed) Design for Sport, Gower, pp.153-178, Available at: (, Accessed: [23/09/2015]

Wilson, J. R., and E. N. Corlett. 1995. Evaluation of human work: A practical ergonomics methodology. 2nd ed. London: Taylor & Francis.