Usability is an important aspect of software quality and – next to technical criteria like functionality, reliability and performance – a decisive competitive factor.
Large companies have long understood the benefits of focusing on usability and integrated usability engineering in their development processes. The German software industry is dominated by small and medium enterprises. And their specific competitive advantages, such as flexibility, customer orientation, diversity of projects and high innovation rate, make it difficult for them to implement the existing usability engineering standards.
In the "Simply Usable." project we worked to solve this problem. Fraunhofer FIT built a process model that is based on a detailed analysis of the development processes in some 40 small and medium-sized German software companies. At the center of the model are some 20 usability engineering methods, all proven and tested in real-life projects, tailored to the needs of small and medium-sized software companies and explained in really usable documentation. Using a sort of process template, companies can find those usability engineering methods that are best suited to their well-established development processes. Thus they can retain their existing processes while at the same time improving them with steps that increase their products' usability.
In addition, the project created a comprehensive usability training program that includes intensive seminars and realistic lab courses. This program is aimed at the experts who design, maintain or market digital applications.
The "Simply Usable." project was partially funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) as part of their program "Einfach intuitiv – Usability für den Mittelstand". Our partners in the project were i22 internetagentur GmbH and sunzinet AG.
The project results are available free of charge at www.simply-usable.de.