Projects of the Experimental Software Engineering Group at the University of Maryland

A Perspective-based Technique for Usability Inspection


Inspection has been a major approach to achieving usability, along with other approaches such as usability testing and using guidelines when designing user interfaces. Usability inspection has been adopted by many organizations, despite the fact that the effectiveness of current usability inspection techniques still has a lot to be desired.


  • To devise a usability inspection technique by inspecting from one particular perspective at a time.
  • To understand the feasibility, effectiveness, and scope of perspective-based usability inspection.


We believe that by applying some of the results from software inspection research to usability inspection, a more effective usability inspection technique can be achieved. The proposed perspective-based technique for usability inspection integrates the following ideas:
  • Inspect from three perspectives. Each inspection session focuses on one of the three defined perspectives: novice use, expert use, and error handling.
  • Use task scenarios. This ensures that the inspection is from the user's point of view, which is usability all about. A set of well defined task scenarios will provide coverage of the inspection.
  • Achieve predictable inspection results through well-defined inspection process. Each task is decomposed into a canonical set of steps. Each canonical step is associated with a set of predefined inspection criteria.
  • Tailor and evolve the inspection criteria. The criteria are tailored to fit the user interface domain (e.g. the Web). They could also evolve according to the experience of the organization.

Project Status

Three experiments have been conducted with promising results. We are in the process of summarizing the results, planning for future research, and building lab and application packages.


usability inspection, inspection technique, human-computer interaction, perspective-based inspection, experimental software engineering


Vic Basili, Ben Shneiderman, Zhijun Zhang


"An empirical study of perspective-based usability inspection", by Zhijun Zhang, Victor Basili, and Ben Shneiderman. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Soceity 42nd Annual Meeting. pp. 1346-1350. Chicago, 1998.
"Perspective-based usability inspection", by Zhijun Zhang, Victor Basili, and Ben Shneiderman. Proceedings of the Usability Professionals' Association Conference. pp. 281-282. Washington DC., 1998.

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