Deploying CogTool: Integrating Quantitative Usability Assessment into Real-World Software Development

Rachel Bellamy, Bonnie John, and Sandra Kogan
IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, USA; Carnegie Mellon University, USA; IBM Software Group, USA

Usability concerns are often difficult to integrate into real-world software development processes. To remedy this situation, IBM research and development, partnering with Carnegie Mellon University, has begun to employ a repeatable and quantifiable usability analysis method, embodied in CogTool, in its development practice. CogTool analyzes tasks performed on an interactive system from a storyboard and a demonstration of tasks on that storyboard, and predicts the time a skilled user will take to perform those tasks. We discuss how IBM designers and UX professionals used CogTool in their existing practice for contract compliance, communication within a product team and between a product team and its customer, assigning appropriate personnel to fix customer complaints, and quantitatively assessing design ideas before a line of code is written. We then reflect on the lessons learned by both the development organizations and the researchers attempting this technology transfer from academic research to integration into real-world practice, and we point to future research to even better serve the needs of practice.