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A Comparison of Usage Evaluation and Inspection Methods for Assessing Groupware Usability

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Association for Computing Machinery


Many researchers believe that groupware can only be evaluated by studying real collaborators in their real contexts, a process that tends to be expensive and time-consuming. Others believe that it is more practical to evaluate groupware through usability inspection methods. Deciding between these two approaches is difficult, because it is unclear how they compare in a real evaluation situation. To address this problem, we carried out a dual evaluation of a groupware system, with one evaluation applying user-based techniques, and the other using inspection methods. We compared the results from the two evaluations and concluded that, while the two methods have their own strengths, weaknesses, and trade-offs, they are complementary. Because the two methods found overlapping problems, we expect that they can be used in tandem to good effect, e.g., applying the discount method prior to a field study, with the expectation that the system deployed in the more expensive field study has a better chance of doing well because some pertinent usability problems will have already been addressed.


Steves, Michelle Potts; Morse, Emile; Gutwin, Carl; Greenberg, Saul (2001): A Comparison of Usage Evaluation and Inspection Methods for Assessing Groupware Usability. Proceedings of the 2001 ACM International Conference on Supporting Group Work. DOI: 10.1145/500286.500306. New York, NY, USA: Association for Computing Machinery. pp. 125–134. Boulder, Colorado, USA