The Usability Laboratory

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About Us

Our Journey


How We Started

The Department of Computer Science (where The Usability Laboratory is located) has offered courses in human computer interaction since before The Usability Laboratory was established 2001.  Members of the University of Waikato Human Computer Interaction Research Group have been researching the human side of technology for many many years.  The depth of knowledge and experience in the Department, was and still is, significant. 

The Usability Laboratory was initially developed as a research resource.  It has been used for a wide range of research and student projects - from single user to group user applications; web-based and desk-top applications; and large, and small (including mobile technology) hardware devices .

Soon after being established ICT companies in NZ began to approach us for consultation with their ICT developments.  Our first official client was INTAZ - we helped develop a look-and-feel design for their SafeTNet system (this system is widely used by NZ industry today) - and then by IPLS to help test their online learning application.

Although the initial goal was to provide a research facility, today, The Usability Laboratory has grown to become:

  • A reputable usability engineering consultancy serving a growing list of ICT companies in New Zealand.

  • A practice that develops and builds on long term relationships with its clients and research partners.

  • An organisation that is continually dedicated to improving the design and direction of today's technologies.

What We've Contributed to the NZ Usability Industry

We believe NZ ICT products and services can be world class and exciting and that  innovation and quality are key elements to success.

This is part of the reason we championed the Department to:

We have also championed the HCI Group to become a part of the HITLabNZ consortium.


Further we were instrumental in making the 2004 APCHI (held in Rotorua) conference a success.  This brought together more NZ and international human computer interaction academics and industry practitioners than ever before seen in New Zealand.  We were supported in our quest by Don Norman (NN/group) and Susan Dray (Dray & Associates) who were our keynote speakers.  We also toured NZ with Don Norman, bringing the usability message to many people who had not heard it before.


Kirsten Thomas, our former Usability Lab manager, was instrumental in founding a Usability Professionals' Assocation New Zealand Chapter.


We continue to look for ways to contribute to the NZ usability industry. 

Our Future Role in the NZ ICT Industry

We strongly believe that there is a significant advantage when ICT developers and providers partner with academic organisations during product development.  After all, academic research is all about discovering far reaching innovations while industry is about bringing those innovations to people in a way that makes sense and succeeds commercially.

We readily admit that consulting with industry has been and continues to be a learning experience for us.  Part of this experience has been to manage the differences in academic and industry goals and tactics.   

Today, the Usability Laboratory is beginning to play a significant role in developing academic - industry relationships by helping ensure the people - technology gap is bridged through knowledge and practices that are useful, practical, and cost effective.



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