How We Started
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
What We've Contributed to the NZ
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
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
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