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The Future of Usability: Podcast interview with Randolph Bias, associate professor, The University of Texas at Austin School of Information, and Scott Isensee, user interface architect at BMC Software, Inc.

 

 

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What is the future of usability? Whether it's software, hardware, or any other technology, one thing is for sure: it's all about ease of use. But, that's a vague term, a catch-all phrase that just muddies the waters. Just what does "usability" mean? What's the history behind the term, what's driving trends in product usability today, and what are the biggest challenges in finding usability nirvana? Dr. Randolph Bias and Scott Isensee give sometimes opposing views of these questions, and more.

Have you ever had a problem justifying the cost of usability? You're not alone. This, and problems like developers testing their own designs and the dangers of amateur usability, are discussed in this podcast. The field of usability has existed for at least half a century, but interfaces are still difficult to use. Will this situation get better, and if so, how? One point on which Randolph and Scott both agree is that usability experts need to have a good mix of academic knowledge and business experience to be truly successful.

Resources

Randolph Bias
Scott Isensee's Blog: User Interface Design and Usability
Cost-justifying usability: An update for the Internet age
Designing for the User with OVID
The Art of Rapid Prototyping: User Interface Design for Windows and Os/2
User-Centered Design: An Integrated Approach

 

Bios

Randolph Bias was a usability practitioner for 25 years before joining The University of Texas at Austin School of Information in 2003 to research human-computer interaction and teach usability. He has published over 50 technical and scientific articles and co-edited Cost-Justifying Usability, 2nd edition: An Update for the Information Age. Randolph led BMC Austin's first usability team before joining UT, and he holds a B.S. in psychology and a doctorate in cognitive psychology.

 

Scott Isensee designs user interfaces for systems management products and leads a team defining the common user interface for BMC Software products. In the past he designed the Netpliance i-opener information appliance, led the cross-company user interface architecture group that designed the Common Desktop Environment (CDE) GUI for UNIX, led the IBM user interface architecture group, served on ISO and ANSI committees writing HCI standards, and designed hardware and software for the banking industry. Scott holds 50 U.S. patents and is a coauthor of the books The Art of Rapid Prototyping, Designing for the User with OVID: Bridging User Interface Design and Software Engineering, Information Appliances and Beyond, Constructing Superior Software, and User-Centered Design: An Integrated Approach. Scott holds master's degrees in Computer Science and Industrial Psychology.