Perspective-based Usability Inspection: An Empirical Validation of Efficacy

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Inspection is a fundamental means of achieving software usability. Past research showed that the current usability inspection techniques were rather ineffective. We developed perspective-based usability inspection, which divides the large variety of usability issues along different perspectives and focuses each inspection session on one perspective. We conducted a controlled experiment to study its effectiveness, using a post- test only control group experimental design, with 24 professionals as subjects. The control group used heuristic evaluation, which is the most popular technique for usability inspection. The experimental design and the results are presented, which show that inspectors applying perspective-based inspection not only found more usability problems related to their assigned perspectives, but also found more overall problems. Perspective-based inspection was shown to be more effective for the aggregated results of multiple inspectors, finding about 30% more usability problems for 3 inspectors. A management implication of this study is that assigning inspectors more specific responsibilities leads to higher performance. Internal and external threats to validity are discussed to help better interpret the results and to guide future empirical studies. (Also cross-referenced as HCIL 99-33) (Also cross-referenced as UMIACS-TR-2000-72)