Sunday, June 04, 2006

Usability maturity

Thanks to Richard Wakeford for sending me an interview with web usability guru Jakob Nielsen, which appeared in the Guardian. It reminded me to revisit his website where I read about a couple of recent-ish surveys on how users use and scan web pages.However, it was the two short articles on the 8 stages of Usability Maturity that particularly caught my eye (these are in the Alertbox entries for April 24 and May 1st 2006). We used to use Nielsen’s usability heuristics as an exercise in the information literacy class at Strathclyde, as part of evaluating a website from different perspectives (see

The 8 stages of Usability Maturity are: Stage 1: Hostility Toward Usability, Stage 2: Developer-Centered Usability; Stage 3: Skunkworks Usability (“What distinguishes this stage from higher levels is that there's no official recognition of usability, nor is there an approved budget allocated in advance. All usability activities are ad hoc and driven by user advocates who want a bit more data to improve the quality of the one thing they're working on at the moment.”); Stage 4: Dedicated Usability Budget (but management still “mainly views usability as a magic potion that's sprinkled sparsely over a user interface to shine it up”); Stage 5: Managed Usability; Stage 6: Systematic Usability Process (by this stage there is a more holistic approach to usability, and attention to usability is better integrated into business processes); Stage 7: Integrated User-Centered Design; and Stage 8: User-Driven Corporation.
Anyway, I thought that some of the elements could be applied to “information literacy” maturity as well. This ties up a bit to some work I did after my trip to Australia in the summer of 2002, when I used information and observation from interviews with Australian librarians to start developing stages towards the Information Literate University mentioned in my previous post.

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