by: James R. (Jim) Lewis
Senior Human Factors Engineer
IBM Software Group
The philosopher of science, J. W. Grove, once wrote, "There is, of course, nothing strange or scandalous about divisions of opinion among scientists. This is a condition for scientific progress." Over the past 30 years, usability, both as a practice and as an emerging science, has had its share of controversies. It has inherited some from its early roots in experimental psychology, measurement, and statistics. Others have emerged as the field of usability has matured and extended into user-centered design (UCD) and user experience (UX). In many ways, a field of inquiry is shaped by its controversies. In this keynote I will review some of the persistent controversies in the field of usability, starting with their history then assessing their current status from the perspective of a pragmatic practitioner. Put another way -- over the past three decades, what are some of the key lessons we have learned, and what remains to be learned?
James Lewis had been invited to publish his HCII 2014 keynote speech in the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction published by Taylor & Francis:
James R. (Jim) Lewis, PhD, has been a usability practitioner at IBM since 1981. In addition to his decades of applied work, he has published influential research on the measurement of usability satisfaction, use of confidence intervals, and sample size estimation for usability studies. His books include "Practical Speech User Interface Design" (2011) and "Quantifying the User Experience" (2012, with Jeff Sauro). He serves on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction and the Journal of Usability Studies, and is on the scientific advisory board of the Center for Research and Education on Aging and Technology Enhancement (CREATE). From 2004-2005 he chaired the Formative Usability Testing Metrics Workgroup for National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). He is a BCPE Certified Human Factors Professional, an IBM Master Inventor with over 80 US patents, and is the current president of the Association for Voice Interaction Design.