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A Collaborative Model of Usability

Usability is commonly evaluated in terms of how quickly and effectively the interaction between user and application satisfies the user's goals. For traditional software products, this view serves well enough. However, when we consider today's network-based products and services, this model of usability is too simplistic.

Most web applications require a model of usability that takes into account the goals of the application provider as well as the goals of the user. Once the goals of the application provider are made explicit, it becomes possible to identify user behaviors that will satisfy these goals. For example, an application provider may have the goal of gathering name and address information for potential customers and thus may create a web site that includes a registration feature. For the application provider, the web site will be a success only if potential customers visit the site and make use of the registration feature.

The traditional model of usability would view registration as a task and evaluate the registration feature based on time, errors, and subjective satisfaction as the user navigates from the web site's home page and completes the steps necessary for registration. While these aspects of usability cannot be ignored, the more important and deeper question that must first be addressed is whether the registration feature is integrated into the site in a way that simultaneously serves the goals of both the user and the application provider. A design is unlikely to succeed if it treats the user's goals and the provider's goals as unrelated. An even more certain recipe for failure is a design that embodies an adversarial view of the relationship between user and provider. Deep problems of this type can be avoided by applying a collaborative model of usability.

Applications designed to support teamwork, facilitate communication, or foster community also require a collaborative model of usability. In such cases, the model must consider the intersecting goals of multiple users as well as those of the application provider.

To learn more about how a collaborative model of usability can be applied to your application or service, please contact us to arrange a complimentary telephone consultation.


The web is going mobile. Should your web site be re-designed to work with mobile devices? How can you create a site that will be appealing and usable across a range of platforms? Usability testing can be the key to success.

To learn more about how CollabTech's usability testing services can be applied to your mobile web application, please contact us to arrange a complimentary telephone consultation.

If you have a transactional web site, chances are you provide one or more feedback channels. The problem with most of these feedback channels, however, is that they don't provide the immediate response that most users desire.

To learn more about how conversational agents can improve usability and reduce costs, please contact us to arrange a complimentary telephone consultation.


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