Designing for Usability: Key Principles and What Designers Think

John D. Gould and Clayton Lewis, “Designing for Usability: Key Principles and What Designers Think” (pdf) (1985)

We recommend three principles of design.

Early Focus on Users and Tasks
First, designers must understand who the users will be. This understanding is arrived at in part by directly studying their cognitive, behavioral, anthropometric, and attitudinal characteristics, and in part by studying the nature of the work expected to be accomplished.

Empirical Measurement
Second, early in the development process, intended users should actually use simulations and prototypes to carry out real work, and their performance and reactions should be observed, recorded, and analyzed.

Iterative Design
Third, when problems are found in user testing, as they will be, they must be fixed. This means design must be iterative: There must be a cycle of design, test and measure, and redesign, repeated as often as necessary.

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