In research and in practice,usability specialists commonly target the technology user-interfaces and help as the main arena for bringing about usability improvements. However, usability improvements depend on more than innovative and user-centered technical designs and implementations. Equally important for creating useful and usable software are the social and political forces that shape the development context. These forces give rise to leadership conflicts, factional disputes, renegade efforts, alliances and betrayals, all of which profoundly influence whether usability improvements will be supported and sustained within and across projects. This essay presents and analyzes a case history of a software start-up company in which usability achieved a Pyrrhic victory, triumphing only in the short run because of social and political forces.
ACM Journal of Computer Documentation (JCD) – Association for Computing Machinery
Published: Nov 20, 2000