Metrics for Usability Standards in Computing


MUSiC - 5429

Keywords software engineering, software system usability, metrics, software certification


Start Date: 12-NOV-90 / Duration: 36 months

[ contact / participants ]


Objectives and Approach

"Usability" is a prime factor in determining the quality and user acceptance of a system. The measurement of usability will provide the concept with a concrete basis, enabling software engineers, users and human factors personnel to collaborate more effectively and to create truly usable systems in the future.

The objective of the MUSiC project has been to develop a set of metrics based methods that can be used individually and together to both specify formal requirements for the usability of a product, and to assess whether a product meets those requirements. The project has defined usability in terms of the quality of use of a product, and developed tools and procedures for measuring usability. These tools include:

Progress and Results

The metrics, methods and tools have been evaluated both by the industrial partners of the project and external industrial organisations.

The consortium is now planning to establish a number of MUSiC Service Centres around Europe which will provide training, consultancy and evaluation services to software system developers and users based on the common MUSiC approach. It is intended that this will eventually provide European industry with a de facto standard for usability evaluation as well as a European-wide method for assessing compliance with the user interface requirements of the European Directive on the use of Display Screen Equipment (90/270/EEC).

Exploitation

Another major objective has been the dissemination of MUSiC results and the exploitation of the tools and techniques in industry. These activities have and continue to be actively pursued by all partners, with the result that a number of external organisations are already using project outputs to assess their products, and a number of other organisations around Europe and the USA have also requested tools and techniques for help in improving the Quality of Use of their products and the effectiveness of their evaluation processes.

The project has already made inputs to the relevant standards groups, in particular it has harmonised its definition of usability with ISO/TC 159/SC4/WG5, which is producing a Usability Assurance standard for usability specification and measurement. The project has also contributed to ISO JTC1/SC7, which has defined software quality characteristics, including usability.

The project intends to act as a focus for usability work in Europe through its strong connections with other projects working in the usability area (eg INUSE) as well as with regular events such as the NPL Usability Forum in the UK.


CONTACT POINT

Mr Michael Kelly
VERIDATAS-BRAMEUR
Clark House, 2 Kings Road
UK - Fleet, HANTS GU13 9AD
tel: + 44/ 252-812252
fax: + 44/ 252-815702

Participants

VERIDATAS-BRAMEUR - UK - C
DATA MANAGEMENT SPA - I - P
SEMA GROUP SAE. - E - P
NATIONAL PHYSICAL LABORATORY - UK - P
ACit/WESTFÄLISCHE WILHELMS-
UNIVERSITÄT MÜNSTER - D - P
HUSAT RESEARCH CENTER - UK - A
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE CORK - IRL - A
TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITEIT DELFT - NL - A


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MUSiC - 5429, December 1993


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html version of synopsis by Nick Cook